Measuring Exam Performance

by | Aug 31, 2020 | Business Management, Metrics

Understanding and Tracking Your Exam KPIs in EDGEPro

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) describe the basic performance of your practice in quantified (expressed in numbers) terms. We are all familiar with the most common KPIs, like capture rates, AR percentages, and Patient Owned Frame Sales. Here’s a little KPI that can be very useful in analyzing your marketing strategies and recall systems: Patient Exams, and its little sister, Patient Mix.

To start with, let’s understand what we mean when we say “Patient Exams.” There are multiple ways to think about and measure patient activity. A patient encounter is any instance when a patient interacts with a practice, regardless of products sold or services provided. An encounter can be as in-depth as a Comprehensive New Patient Exam, or as little as a patient stopping by to pick up their eyewear or pay their bill. A patient appointment is any scheduled (or walk-in) interaction that involves the dispensing staff (ophthalmic technicians or opticians) or provider (doctor). A patient who stops in by appointment for an eyewear adjustment or fitting in the dispensary, or comes in for a contact lens fitting qualifies as an appointment, too, as does a patient who receives a full eye health exam.

For purposes of our analysis and tracking system, EDGEPro defines an exam as “any patient encounter that results in a refractive service.” Why do we define it that way? Primarily because it is completely clear. There is no room for interpretation or variations in this measurement. Was a refraction performed? If yes, then we count it as an exam. This ensures a standardized metric that can be consistently calculated in any practice, and reliably compared to others.

Exam Statistics We Like to Track

The most basic exam KPI is really simple – the number of exams performed. At the end of the day, most of your other Key Performance Indicators will use the number of exams as part of their calculations. It’s a foundational number that establishes your most fundamental profitability measurements. If we found that our complete eyewear capture rate was up 15% from last year, we’d be over the moon, right? What if we found that our capture rate was up 15%, but the number of exams had dropped by 30%? Not quite as great. At the end of the day, we must be performing enough exams to generate and maintain a profitable practice.

You can find the number of exams (with refraction) in several of the dashboard reports in EDGEPro. The Sales Summary Report is a great place to check this metric frequently. Besides being an easy, quick-check statistic overview, it also does a side-by-side comparison (automatically!) with the same time period last year. You can instantly see if you’re on track to beat your previous number or not. The number of exams is one of those KPIs that you want to keep a very close eye on. We recommend tracking it weekly, monthly and quarterly.

 Tracking Exams in EDGEPro

Next up, let’s look at your patient mix. This is the “mix” of existing-to-new patients. What proportion of your refractive exams are obtained by new patients, as opposed to those who are returning patients. It may not be perfectly obvious why this matters much, and, to be honest, it can really vary. So why worry about it? You have two priorities regarding patient mix as a practitioner: 1) Retain existing patients; 2) Find new patients. Generally speaking, it costs a lot less in terms of marketing and effort to retain the patients you have, so you want to make sure that your returning patient rates are healthy. However, all practices lose some patients. They move away, they change their providers, they change their health plans. Stuff happens. So we need to be sure that we are also acquiring new patients to keep our total exam numbers moving in the right direction, and keep the practice growing.

Most practices should be looking at somewhere between 25% and 33% of exams being new patients. However, your patient mix will vary depending on your practice demographics. Practices located near universities or military bases likely have a more transient patient base that changes frequently. If this is you, your new patient ratio will be higher than most, and that’s both expected and healthy. If, on the other hand, your patient base is primarily older, and more established patients who own their homes, you shouldn’t be looking at super-high ratios of new patients.

What’s it Mean?

If your new patient ratios are too low, it’s time to double-check your marketing effectiveness. Review social media platforms, print ads, and check your website content to make sure it’s engaging for prospective patients. If your returning patient ratios are too low, you may want to review your recall system for effectiveness and consistency.

We recommend that you give your patient mix and exam numbers a check about once a month. If you see any serious trends, upwards or downwards, you may want to review it more frequently as you make adjustments in your patient outreach.

By Evan Kestenbaum

Co-founder and COO of GPN Technologies, Evan spends his days finding ways to "make things better."


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