Staffing costs are responsible for the largest share of a house call program’s expenses, so it is essential that staffing is appropriate to meet the needs of patients in the service area without sacrificing productivity. To enhance sustainability, a house call program should be evaluating its staffing on a regular basis. Some questions to consider:
- Are schedules full? Are patients able to schedule timely appointments?
- Are patients experiencing long hold times or abandoned phone calls?
- What is the average wait time for a new patient?
- Does schedule allow for prompt post-acute follow up?
- Are patients able to obtain timely RX refills, prior authorizations, and referrals or do you receive complaints often?
- Are all team members working to the top of their scope or burdened with administrative tasks?
- Are in-basket (EHR) or incoming messages addressed or reviewed by end of the day or do several remain unopened and/or unaddressed for the next day?
- Are lab and diagnostic test results reviewed and responses provided to patients in a timely manner?
Also, don’t forget that your practice can leverage a variety of data and metrics to evaluate if the staffing is appropriate. For example:
- Incoming call volume
- Average messages per day addressed by clinical staff and provider team
- Productivity per providers and practice as a whole
- Average increase of new referrals and referral source
- Days from referral to first visit and days to transitional care visits from discharge
- Annual patient, provider, and employee satisfaction surveys
Remember, there is no “one size fits all” staffing model. Consider your program’s mission, business plan, and patient population to determine what’s best for your practice, and then capture and regularly review meaningful practice metrics. By keeping a regular focus on these critical data, you will be able to ensure your program’s staffing is aligned with productivity targets and is appropriate to meet needs within the service area.