Practice Notes

Q&A: How to get the most from medical group benchmarking

by Maria Restuccio, Ken Wallace, and Rachel Woods

This year, the Medical Group Strategy Council (MGSC) collected data from over 40 medical groups—representing more than 15,000 providers—to build a national dataset of financial and performance benchmarks. Through collecting this data and working with medical group financial and operational leaders, we uncovered several exciting new trends. We sat down with our data expert to get her take.

Get national benchmarks on medical group performance metrics

Question: What excites you most about Advisory Boards' medical group benchmarking initiative?

Maria Restuccio: Our benchmarking process is exciting because it is designed specifically for health system integrated medical groups. This ensures an apples-to-apples comparison of organizations with similar goals and strategy and can be refined by individual group characteristics, like size and location. That level of granularity in the data is what makes this tool special.

Q: What is different about this year's tool than in years past?

Restuccio: There are two things. First, the new benchmarks are broken out in a way that matches the shift from a physician-centric lens to a provider-centric lens, so the data looks at things like distinct advanced practice provider (APP) panels and medical group net investment by provider. Second, we now have a downloadable net investment calculator that allows organizations—including those who did not participate in our initiative—to calculate this figure and compare against the national average. 

Q: What are the most common benchmarks that medical group leaders ask for?

Restuccio: The most common question I am getting is, "How do I better use my care team to bolster provider productivity, improve access, and achieve population health goals?" The second most common question is, "How do I align my provider compensation models to achieve my goals, as provider types like APPs play a larger role in organizational success?"

Q: What questions do you wish were being asked more?

Restuccio: While I love having strategic conversations with medical group leaders around this data, I want to see service line directors, practice managers, and other on-the-ground folks get involved. A great way to do so is by using our "generate report function," which allows users to select from more than 150 metrics and filter by specialties. If an executive is focused on primary care in a given year, they could have their director of primary care look at net investment, care team ratios, and compensation for provider type across internal medicine, for instance.

Q: Once someone has this tool in their hands, what is the first step they should take?

Restuccio: After you start exploring the benchmarks, you want to identify areas of strength and opportunity and share that with the larger team. Think, "Where could I better support my providers?" Or, "Where do I have the opportunity to renegotiate reimbursement contracts?" When you have identified areas of opportunity, make the most of your MGSC membership and let us help you act on those insights.

Q: After a group has the benchmarks they need, what should they do next?

Restuccio: We always recommend groups pair the quantitative benchmarks with our best practice research. An example from the last benchmarking initiative I want to point out is a medical group that was in the 90th percentile of medical assistant (MA)-to-physician staffing ratio. Because the data showed their group significantly above benchmark, the executive's first reaction was that they were overstaffed. We quickly jumped in to ask how the MAs were being deployed. This group's staffing ratios, while less common than the cohort, were a vital part of their workflow strategy. The high care team ratios were being used to ensure that providers were operating at top-of-license while preventing burnout—in other words, this was an area where the medical group was actually ahead of the curve.

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