Balancing Your Patient Load: What to do with NPU?

A big part of being productive and successful over a long period of time is knowing how to strike the right balance — of not going so hard and so long without breaking up or burning out. Your body needs the proper proportions and nutrients along with a healthy dose of exercise and rest. It’s the same in business.

And with all the challenges practices, surgery centers, and health systems face today — like increased workloads and patient demands along with decreased resources and revenue, just to name a few — something’s got to be done to flip the equation and give relief to providers or they’ll continue to struggle.

When visiting with physicians, office managers, and schedulers alike, one of the recurring issues we inevitably run across is that of workflow inequity. Doctor A seems to have too many patients while Doctor B isn’t getting enough. Consequently, Doctor A is being run ragged, getting stressed out and his clinic is running behind, while Doctor B is wondering why he hasn’t had a new patient in a while. With most practices desiring to strike a fair and equitable balance, the issue of assigning new patients to practice providers is getting to be more of a challenge.

While many practices don’t even have a system of dispersing new clients, others at least attempt a method but often find it lacking in feasibility and effectiveness and even causing additional problems. Still others might employ a rotating schedule where one physician may get all the new patients for a given period of time but that doesn’t ensure equity since patient activity changes from season to season. And many schedulers simply assign new patients to a favored physician or the more persistent physician or the one who is simply available.

Let’s face it: not having a system or having one that is preferential or merely convenient doesn’t accomplish your goals of practice equity, fairness, and balance. It also doesn’t make sure patients always receive the optimal care.

Opargo has created a solution: our New Patient Unassigned (NPU) feature. NPU is specifically intended for providers who have patients who are referred to a practice but do not have a specific physician assigned to them. It serves to equally distribute those patents amongst the physicians who can see them so that everyone is getting their equitable share and practice workflow equity is accomplished.

Here’s how it works:
What we do first is determine what groups of providers accept the same types of patients. All doctors who see shoulders go in one group. Those who specialize in knees go in another. Those who just work on spines are in still another. In this way, we find out how many different groups there are, based on specific needs, and then assign providers to each group.

Then we assign a quota so that Opargo can equally distribute patients to physicians. We don’t provide a one-to-one relationship because we want Opargo to be able to use its tools to optimize within the practice. We set those quotas a little higher so we can first look at the visit as an individual entity and optimize what’s best for the practice as well as for the patient receiving care.

In the end, Opargo uses its optimization engine to do what it does best: patient access improvement and practice efficiency gains, so that providers do what they do best: work with people and administer quality healthcare.

Achieving that optimal practice workflow equity ensures that every physician is getting his fair share of patients and that no one is overloaded, overworked, or underappreciated.