19 Patient Access Metrics to Track in 2019

Are you looking to improve the performance at your practice? We compiled 19 metrics we think you should track in 2019 to help you stay at the top of your game.

  1. Average hold time: the apps that we use are training us to expect faster service and health care is not immune to this trend. Track your average hold times carefully and look for opportunities to reduce it. Unless you have an incredibly short hold time, it might not be enough to create a one-time decrease. Consider the hold time for scheduling an appointment with your competitor or a practice you admire.

  2. Average handle time: how long does it take to successfully schedule an appointment with a patient? Track this metric and look for variations over time. Consider whether there might be opportunities to use training or technology to enable schedulers to book appointments across specialities, physicians, and locations, and to minimize the number of transfers..

  3. Number of reviews: measure how many reviews are you getting each week. You can take steps to make it more likely for patients to write a review, such as by placing a reminder in the waiting room, including a link in an email following the appointment, or by simply making reviews more prominent on your website or social media site.

  4. Quality of reviews: identify one or two social channels in which you wish to dominate and pay close attention to the quality of reviews you are receiving there. If you are just beginning to focus on reputation management, start with just one platform, since focusing on several may simply dilute your effort without producing tangible results. If you notice consistent themes, plan to address them or talk around them. Even a “bad” review online is an opportunity for service recovery (see #15 below) and to show prospective patients you’re listening.

  5. Number of people engaging in self-service: track how many people are booking appointments online and observe any variation carefully. For most practices, you’d want to see this number increase so you can optimize staffing and team productivity. If you don’t already enable online booking, you can start by creating a form on your website for patients to request a call-back.

  6. Online traffic: monitor how your online traffic is changing at least on a monthly basis. If you are tech savvy you may want to install a tool like Google Analytics and play around with some views and dashboards yourself. More likely, you want to hire a consultant to help you learn about what this means for you. One note of caution: before you convince yourself that you need a complete redesign, think about small changes that you can make in small 2-week sprints. As you learn what works or doesn’t work, you will be better prepared for a full redesign should you actually need it.

  7. Search result rank: where do you show up in the search results rankings? Use Firefox’s Private Mode or Google’s Incognito mode to search for terms patients might use to look for an appointment. See if you are in the top 3 and if your competitor is doing better. Do this regularly and keep track of how it changes as you make other changes.

  8. Broken links and outdated information: do you have broken links or outdated information on your website or on sites that link to your content such as Yelp or Google Maps? Bad information and broken links negatively impact your website ranking and provide a poor consumer experience. We recommend that you regularly audit them. Some might take longer to fix than others and you can either find a consultant to help you with this or use a tech-savvy intern!

  9. Number of physicians without recent pictures: most speciality practices display pictures of their physicians and frequently also display pictures of mid-level providers. This allows patients to feel like they know the provider. On the other hand it makes it look awkward if a handful of providers do not have pictures while most of their colleagues do. Make picture-taking a part of your onboarding process, and update these at least every two years.

  10. Survey Responses: monitor the number of responses that you receive and see if you can draw any insights by segmenting that data. Create experiments to see if small interventions such as placing a notice informing people of the importance of surveys, or reminding patients of that in the check-out process, increase response rates. Pace yourself so you can constantly learn and iterate.

  11. No-show rate: monitor your no-show rates and see if there are patterns that explain times or patient-types that are more likely to no-show. If you can find patterns, test small interventions, like double-booking certain time-slots that have more cancellations than others, or measure the impact of patient reminders. Create small experiments to see what works, including trying different messages. If something doesn’t work, stop it. You might be surprised to see what works.

  12. Cancellation rate: try to understand from your patients why they are canceling appointments. Be tactful while doing this, since they might not always want to tell you. And remember, the point is to be able to understand whether there’s something you can do to change the cancellation rate, not to simply force patients to fill out a form. If you don’t think you’ll have time or bandwidth to take action on the data, remove it from your survey or appointment-cancellation protocol.

  13. Wait-list: track how long your waitlist is and if it varies by segment. If you are a part of a large system you may have room to see patients faster by asking them to go to another location. If your wait-list is extremely long while you are not operating close to capacity, you’ll know you can quickly add revenue without adding clinical resources by optimizing our wait-list system. If your waitlist is too short, you likely have room to increase advertising and increase market-share.

  14. Referral volume: track how many referrals you are getting from your top referring providers and ensure that you close the loop with them. Physicians who know that their referrals to you receive prompt attention are likely to continue to send patients your way. If you receive an unexpected referral see what you can do to turn that into a regular source of patient volume. If you experience a decrease in referral volume, try to stop the bleed before it gets too late.

  15. Service recoveries: if someone drops the call while waiting, or leaves a poor review, you can often find a way for service recovery. By fixing a mistake or correcting a perceived slight you can create loyalty and repair your brand. Schedule a conversation with your leadership team about creating moments of service recovery that resonate with your brand and mission.

  16. Time to appointment: track how long it typically takes to schedule an appointment with a doctor at your location and compare that with that of your biggest or savviest competitor.

  17. POS collections: if you follow HFMA, you’ll be familiar with this metric in their MAP Keys.

  18. Capacity utilization: if you follow HFMA, you’ll be familiar with Percentage of Patient Schedule Occupied in their MAP Keys.

  19. Employee engagement. This might not seem like a patient access issue but if your employees are unhappy, it shows quickly in the experience they create for your patients. You can use internal surveys or use a partner for measuring satisfaction. However, if you don’t think you can act upon feedback, it’s better to not conduct a survey, since a survey that’s not acted upon can be worse than no survey at all.