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By: Stephen O'Connor

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July 15th, 2015

10 Statistics Every Physician Needs to Know

Healthcare Advice

shutterstock_235530919Like all other people of science, physicians are accustomed to dealing with cold, hard facts. They cannot provide the best care possible to patients if they don’t understand the numbers behind the treatments, such as success rates of one procedure over another or how long it typically takes for a patient to progress from one stage of illness to becoming completely healed.

Statistics also shed light on local demographics of patients as well as the business conditions under which physicians do their work. With that in mind, here are 10 statistics that every physician needs to know.

1. Malpractice Lawsuits

It’s an unpleasant topic to consider, but it’s a fact of life that patients sometimes sue doctors when they don’t get the results they were expecting. Physicians would be well advised to have an idea of the statistics on malpractice lawsuits in their state, and a sense of how many are legitimate and how many are nuisance suits with no merit.

2. Data Breaches

Learn the facts about data breaches in the medical industry. The sobering details on how many criminals steal people’s identities should make you sit up straight and double-check that your medical practice software is robust, uses encryption and safeguards patients’ sensitive information.

3.  Local Demographics

Get a handle on the birth and death rates in your community. Obviously, obstetricians will be more concerned about local birth stats, but there are plenty of other details to learn about. 

Is your medical practice located in a poor, high-crime area? The statistics can indicate levels of poverty-induced malnutrition cases, for example, or the rate of injuries from muggings and other assaults.

4. Patients Not Paying Bills

Physicians should have an idea of how many patients will not or cannot pay their bills on time. While this doesn’t directly affect how you treat them, it may influence you to implement a new revenue cycle management software solution and get better control over the pay cycle.

5. Number of Patients Who Get Insurance Through Medicaid or Medicare

When you are aware of how many people are getting medical help through the government in your community, it will influence how many new patients you are open to seeing. You might have a mandate to add more physicians to treat a growing population of Medicaid users, for example.

6. How Long to Obtain Laboratory Results

Do you know how long it typically takes for your in-house laboratory to process test results? How do these statistics compare to any third-party labs you use in terms of processing results and delivering the data? 

This is particularly useful when it comes to the urgent, stat requests you make for tests.

7. Local Incident Rates for Diseases and Injuries

Knowledge is power, and it pays to know details about your city. For example, you serve a community with a heavy industrial base where many workers deal with dangerous equipment, resulting in higher than usual injury rates. 

There might be high levels of pollution that cause more incidents of disease as well. Being aware of local stats can help you predict the number of patients who will need treatment for various conditions.

8. The Number of Codes in ICD-10 Compared to ICD-9

The deadline for switching to ICD-10 from the International Classification of Diseases code version 9 is October 1, 2015.

Be aware that there are 68,000 codes in ICD-10 compared to 13,000 in ICD-9, according to Medicaid. The added codes will allow medical providers to document their work much more precisely.

9. How Many Visits for General Doctors and Specialists at Your Facility

If you’re seeing more patients coming in for one specialty over another, it might be time to review how you are marketing your services. In a medical facility with multiple specialties grouped under one roof, you might see more people coming to the podiatrist than to the endocrinologist, for example.

10. Average Time Doctors See Patients in a Given Period

Do you have a good idea of how many patients each of your physicians sees each day or week? When you keep track of these figures, the statistics will show you whether you might be working too hard and are approaching burnout. 

If you are seeing four patients per hour but know you would get better outcomes by only seeing three per hour, the statistics can help support your case to see fewer patients each day or to bring on additional staff.

Physicians who know such statistical information about their chosen profession will have a keener insight into the local demographics of the patients they serve, giving them an edge over doctors who are not so interested in the numbers. You can put numbers into action, using them to make a case to expand your practice, for example, or to change the way you handle certain processes, from getting lab results to improving your revenue cycle going forward.

Key Takeaway

  • Doctors, like other professionals in the hard sciences, are accustomed to looking at data to help them determine the proper course of action.
  • Knowing details about how many patients sue doctors for malpractice in your state can influence whether you will stay put or adjust how you treat patients.
  • You should stay on top of the statistics concerning billing, so you can then see what changes you might need to make to speed up the revenue cycle.
  • It’s a good idea to monitor how quickly your in-house lab processes tests and compare it to third-party labs.
  • Being aware of how many patients you and your colleagues see in a given period may cause you to make changes so you can provide more comprehensive care.

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About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.

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