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Evaluating Staff Efficiency and How to Make It Better

If your medical practice always seems behind on work and payroll is always over budget, you might have a problem with your capacity or staffing plan. One of the key behaviors that separates good optometric practices from great optometric practices is a good staffing plan. If you need help getting your budget under control, it might be time to consider hiring accounting and advisory services.

A good medical staffing plan covers three key areas: workload expected, turnaround time, and employee behavior. In balance, these three buckets can help ensure the fastest response time at the lowest expense. Missing targets in these areas results in long patient waiting times, overspending, and poor performance results.

Workload Expectations

You can’t show improvement without measuring expectations. A good staffing plan begins with trying to estimate the daily, weekly, or monthly expected workload. This data can come from historical figures and should be adjusted based on seasonality or your practice's initiatives. The basics of workload are as follows:

            Transactions * Processing Time = Workload

We use the generic term "transactions" because it can cover a wide range of work to complete. Transactions might include attending to patients, answering phone calls, or any other task. Each employee should have a specific transaction they must complete.

"Processing time" is also another generic term that can vary based on the nature of your optometric practice. This measure considers how long each transaction takes to complete and averages it per day or hour.

Measuring Employee Efficiency

Think of an individual member of your optometric as a cup and transactions as coffee beans. Each cup can fit a certain number of beans. If you have more beans, then you'll fill the cups up and need more of them. Similarly, if you have more transactions, there might not be enough staff to handle the work. This is why measuring transactions is essential.

Let’s continue the analogy and turn the coffee beans into grapes that are larger than your coffee beans. If you have the same number of grapes as beans, you'll need more cups to fit all of the grapes. Think of the size difference as an increase in processing time. You may have the same number of transactions, but if they grow in processing time, they'll overwhelm the capabilities of your existing staff. This is why measuring processing time is necessary.

Staff productivity measurements should start with an expected workload and measure against the actual workload. Without this, all other capacity planning becomes flawed.

Work Has a Shelf Life

The second part of capacity planning involves determining the shelf life of your work. Going back to the analogy of grapes and beans, consider that a coffee bean might last a lot longer than a grape.

How long are your patients waiting for attention? How many patients do you have to reschedule appointments with due to issues regularly backing up the queue? Your office should identify the amount of work that can roll over to the next day and which tasks require immediate attention. Medical eye-care emergencies, for example, require prompt attention, whereas patients coming in for routine eye examinations or consultation sessions can wait. Make sure to set clear goals as part of your staffing and capacity plans.

Don’t Overfill your Cups

The final measure of staff efficiency involves expected employee behavior. The first behavior is occupancy, which refers to how much time each of your staff spends working and how much time they spend waiting for more work to arrive.

Each office should determine the expected amount of time staff should engage in work. The rest of that time should involve waiting for new tasks to arrive. Using the cup analogy again, this is like making sure you don't overfill your cups to make room for unanticipated situations that might cause the cup to overflow.

The second measure of employee efficiency is shrinkage. This metric should examine the percentage of the time that employees engage in unproductive activities based on benefits or personal issues. Factors that impact shrinkage include absenteeism, paid time off, regular breaks, and development time. Returning to the cup analogy, you need margin to wash your cups, or you'll need a replacement if a cup falls and breaks.

Counting the Costs

Capacity and staffing plans require top-notch reporting and planning to operate successfully. From payroll management to monitoring employee efficiency, accounting services can help identify opportunities to drive your optometry practice toward maximum growth.

Accounting is complicated work, and your focus needs to be on meeting key performance indicators, such as the ones covered in this free white paper, that can help your practice grow. Outsourcing accounting and payroll duties allows you to keep your staff at the right size based on your office's unique needs, and if you feel that's what you need, contact us today for an obligation-free discussion about how our innovative reports help you maximize profits and empower you to grow your business.

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