Dashboards help to assess performance fast

February 1, 2008

You know it's important to keep a pulse on the business performance of your practice, but how do you do it when time is never on your side?

The dashboard is a metric reporting tool that makes it easy to look at business performance so you know when the practice is doing well and when something is wrong. Dashboards provide a layered interface that conforms to the way you work. When performance dashboards are aligned with the practice's operations, finances, and strategic plan, managers and physicians begin to work more efficiently and effectively toward achieving shared objectives.

Data revealed on the dashboard should be based per full-time physician and compared to the performance of other urologists around the country. Typical indicators include financial, human resource, and patient satisfaction measures. However, the power of the dashboard can be extended to include other data. For example, if a new provider was added recently or you opened a new satellite clinic, monitoring growth and financial progress of this entity can be added to the dashboard.

The manager of a busy urology practice doesn't need to spend a lot of time preparing and updating the dashboard. A number of resources are available to help compile the data that are already stored on the computer system and design a meaningful dashboard that reflects the key components to monitor the health of the practice.

Most likely the practice already relies on someone with information technology expertise to assist you with managing technology in the practice. This person can be an excellent resource to guide the creation of the practice's dashboard or you may want to go online and check out some of the firms that specialize in dashboard reporting, such as http://www.visualmining.com/ or http://www.idashboards.com/.

The dashboard can be designed to compare internal performance from the prior year. To look at how you compare to your colleagues across the nation, the Medical Group Management Association ( http://www.mgma.com/) has conveniently packaged a set of dashboard metrics with its cost survey on disk. This enables the user to create a dashboard based on six indicators that are benchmarked against other urology practices in a few short minutes. The spreadsheet used to prepare the dashboard shows your ranking when compared to the MGMA database.

If you find yourself on information overload with management and financial reports screaming for attention, think about implementing dashboard technology to keep track of business performance. Some applications can update information automatically with web-embedded technology, eliminating the need to repopulate the spreadsheets. Charts and tables can be configured to support drill-down capabilities. Keep in mind that dashboards are only as good as the data that support them, so you need a good, organized basis to make them work. The performance management capabilities of dashboard technology require someone in the practice to decide which indicators to monitor, define acceptable ranges, and respond to what the dashboard reveals.

Performance management requires taking action when red flags emerge. It's just like the dashboard on your car; if you fail to respond when you are running on empty, you will run out of gas.

Judy Capko is a health care consultant and the author of Secrets of the Best Run Practices. She can be reached at 805-499-9203 or judy@capko.com
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