Using KPIs: An ENT Case Study

Analyze Your Practice’s Operational and Financial Performance With KPIs

Fuel Medical works with ENT and audiology practices nationwide, providing custom insights, tools and actionable solutions that enhance practice performance and impact patient outcomes. We improve practice performance by analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs). This article answers this practical question surrounding KPIs: How have KPIs helped ENT practices in the past?

The Discovery

David Sweet, the regional manager for Pennsylvania and New Jersey, discovered that XYZ ENT had a two-prong problem. The first was concerning an issue where they weren’t capturing “qualified” patients for their audiology department. They identified qualified patients as those who were ready to move forward with a treatment plan involving amplification once the audiologist made the recommendation.

Secondly, XYZ ENT was experiencing “bottlenecks” within its scheduling process, which was a result of the practice’s policy that every patient who called into the practice seeking help must see a physician first. The problem was that their physicians were booked out for five to eight weeks. So, patients who called in seeking help with a hearing difficulty had to wait until there was an opening in a physician’s schedule. Many of these patients, out of frustration, understandably went elsewhere for their hearing health care.

The Assessment

David knew that an initial screening by a physician was a common scheduling protocol within an ENT practice as they believe that physicians must rule out any serious problems before referring the patient to an audiologist, who then addresses age-related or sensorineural hearing loss.

After a discussion with the practice administrator and managing partner (also a physician) at XYZ ENT, David recommended that the front office staff be trained to handle patients calling into the practice with hearing difficulties differently. Scheduling directly with the audiology department and skipping the physician’s appointment first would significantly cut down on the time between scheduling the appointment and the actual appointment date. This would also require a change of perspective from the practice’s 10 physicians. They’d need to understand that allowing the audiologist to refer patients with more serious issues contributing to their hearing difficulties to a physician for further examinationwas within the audiologist’s scope of practice.

The Execution

XYZ ENT accepted David’s recommendation and implemented the new process of scheduling appointments. It was almost immediately clear that there was a change in “qualified” audiology patients once the scheduling policy was changed. But why? When patients with hearing loss are directed to an audiologist first, they not only receive a diagnosis of their hearing health sooner but are also given the opportunity to discuss treatment with the audiologist at that same appointment. With that same positive momentum, the audiologist is able to prepare patients for the next appointment, where they’re fitted with hearing devices. After several months, it seemed that the solution was working, but David wanted to know what the data showed as a result of this change in process.

Looking at the KPI reporting, the results with the same four audiologists were as follows: 

January through May 2023 (old scheduling policy)

The audiologists averaged:

  • 47 units per month
  • $112,800 in net hearing aid (HA) revenue

June through September 2023 (new scheduling policy per Fuel Medical’s recommendation)

The audiologists averaged:

  • 69 units per month
  • $171,484 in net HA revenue

The practice had an average monthly increase of $58,684—a 52% increase in monthly net HA revenue! Annualized, that’s an additional $704,208 in net HA revenue per year generated by XYZ ENT’s audiology department, which is HUGE!

Big Changes With Minimal Effort

By simply making this easy change in office scheduling protocols with a little retraining of staff, the practice was able to:

  • Schedule appointments with patients who have a self-acknowledged hearing problem and are ready to address their hearing health and move forward with treatment.
  • Dramatically reduce the audiology scheduling bottleneck, enabling the practice to improve the patient experience, making it more likely that patients would refer friends and family to the practice—a bit of a multiplier effect.
  • Dramatically increase their net HA revenue monthly/annually.

Using KPIs, David was able to confirm that his recommendation and the practice’s subsequent shift in scheduling protocols was more than just effective—it was dramatically successful.

*XYZ ENT is a fictional name to protect our member’s identity. The rest of the story is based on real events.

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