Improve Clinical Performance With Data In Audiology


How to Improve Clinical Performance Using Your Data

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every audiologist performed exceptionally well? In reality, some providers are more skilled and compassionate than others. Since your clinic wants to employ the best of the best, track clinical performance using your data. This blog explains how to accomplish this.

Clinical performance measures the quality of care provided by practitioners, focusing on both the process and the outcomes. For instance, your clinic will want to determine whether each audiologist is consistently following the proper clinical workflows, making the right diagnoses, and recommending the most appropriate solutions to meet each patient’s specific needs.

  • Are they efficient – with good time management skills – or do they keep patients waiting?  
  • Are they kind, professional, and likable?  
  • Do patients keep returning to see your audiologists, or are you experiencing high patient turnover, with dissatisfied patients switching to other practices?  
  • Are your audiologists consistently following proper workflows and protocols in their exams (e.g., using the gold standard Real Ear Measurement when fitting patients)?

Since clinical performance impacts a variety of important metrics in hearing practices, it’s important to use data to measure it properly, regularly, accurately, and objectively.

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Suppose you have a top-performing audiologist with ample experience and a friendly bedside manner. This top performer follows best practice protocols during every hearing exam, provides accurate diagnoses, and recommends the most appropriate solutions based on each patient’s hearing loss, needs, lifestyle, and budget.

They use gold standard practices – such as using Real Ear Measurement to improve hearing aid fittings – and empower each patient to care for – and maintain – their devices. This audiologist consistently demonstrates they have the “soft skills” necessary for success, like good communication, patience, time management, and compassion. They answer each patient’s questions, reassure them if they’re nervous, and provide personalized support. While they spend quality time with each customer, they’re also efficient and able to stay on schedule. As a result, they have high sales rates, low return rates, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). 

Now, imagine that you have an underperforming practitioner, who lacks time management skills, is always running behind, and keeps patients waiting. This practitioner doesn’t follow proper clinical workflows, often missing (or forgetting) steps in the exam process. Sometimes, they get a patient’s diagnosis wrong, or recommend hearing aids that are suboptimal for the patient’s needs. Maybe they lack “people skills” and appear gruff, impatient, uncaring, or rude.

They might take a “one-size-fits-all” approach, rather than providing personalized care.  Patients are unimpressed, give negative feedback, post poor online reviews, switch to another hearing clinic, and tell their family and friends to stay away. This practitioner undoubtedly has higher consistency issues, missing frequencies, lower sales rates, higher return rates, and other disappointing KPIs. 

As you can see, tracking clinical performance is important, using data to get key insights. This should be part of your clinic’s regular, ongoing activities. This way, if you’re seeing negative clinical performance indicators such as missing frequencies, consistency issues, low sales rates, high return rates or high patient turnover, you can take immediate action to improve the situation, either with increased training for the underperforming practitioner, conversations about how they’re not meeting your expectations or, in more severe cases, termination. 

Tech Tools Are Essential to Measure Clinical Performance 

Clinical Performance Audiology

Technology is invaluable in helping hearing clinics collect and analyze data. When using tech tools for clinical performance analytics, clinic leaders can make smarter, data-driven decisions to improve business and clinical outcomes.  

In the examples above, your hearing clinic could look at patterns in adverse events – such as high hearing aid return rates, negative patient reviews, lack of customer referrals, low sales rates – and use data to pinpoint a cause. In this case, the cause for these poor metrics was clearly an underperforming audiologist. 

The flip side is also true: positive KPIs – increased sales, higher profits, many incoming referrals, high patient satisfaction and loyalty, etc. – can indicate a high-performing audiologist. 

By looking at the data and identifying trends and patterns, clinic leaders can determine when (and where) they need to focus quality improvement efforts. The answer could be as simple as providing increased training or continuing education for underperformers.  

Tracking performance data will be an ongoing effort so you can measure results over time. For instance, after providing support and training, is the underperforming audiologist showing signs of improvement, based on data? Or, if ongoing results show no improvements, data can help drive your decision to terminate them and hire a high performer instead. Moreover, you can A-B split test the workflows and see which ones work the best. 

Using advanced tech solutions like Auditdata Measure will provide data-driven insights that you simply can’t get from manual methods or disjointed tech stacks. This holistic approach provides comprehensive data about your clinical practice that is invaluable, helping your clinic’s leadership make more informed decisions to drive both clinical and business outcomes. 

If you have a large, multi-unit practice, you produce tremendous volumes of data across all locations. It can feel overwhelming to try and centralize data, distill specific information, pinpoint problems, and spot trends. However, if you use software with analytics capabilities, you can better understand what the data is showing, and clearly identify trends, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities in clinical performance and other business areas.  

Luckily, more audiology clinics are transitioning to innovative, integrated tech tools and software, using these solutions to extract key information from the data. By collecting, managing, organizing, and tracking data in a way that’s useful and impactful, clinic leadership can make smarter, more informed decisions to optimize all aspects of business operations. 

Clinical Performance Drives Other KPIs 

Kpis Hearing Clinic

As you can imagine from the examples above, clinical performance impacts a variety of key metrics. A competent, skilled, personable clinician will drive positive business and clinical outcomes, which benefits your clinic and your patients. Conversely, if a clinician’s performance is not up to par, it can be detrimental to your business. 

Consider how clinical performance is impacting your:  

Testing and fitting
Is your clinic using reminders and nudging to drive positive decisions during testing and fitting? It’s wise to use software that offers this feature, which maximizes quality and consistency in every exam, and ensures that audiologists don’t get thrown off track during appointments.

It’s important to have clinical workflows in place, of course, but it’s possible that practitioners can deviate from the predetermined workflows for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they’re distracted by a talkative patient who has many questions. Or they’re new to your practice and still getting used to your preferred workflows. Maybe they were interrupted by another staff member who had a question or an emergency and lost track of where they were in the exam. Sometimes a practitioner isn’t feeling well or is distracted by personal issues, such as a crisis at home. Regardless of the reason, it’s good practice to establish clinical workflows plus reminders and nudging to automatically guide (and remind) the practitioner to do the next proper step in the exam. For instance, during a fitting, the audiologist will be directed and reminded to perform Real Ear Measurement (REM), widely considered to be the gold standard for hearing aid fitting.  

Patient outcomes
Clinical performance directly impacts patient satisfaction and care outcomes. Audiologists should be measured on a variety of metrics, including patient satisfaction surveys. Keep in mind that even something as seemingly “basic” as practitioners chronically running late for their appointments can frustrate patients and decrease satisfaction and referral rates.

Some practitioners get waylaid by talkative patients, patients with multiple issues to discuss, inefficient scheduling, and more. (It’s important to note that patients rank long wait times as one of their biggest frustrations with visiting medical professionals.) Audiologists must examine and diagnose patients accurately and efficiently, and not keep the next patient waiting. They need to find the most appropriate solutions for each patient’s specific diagnosis, needs, lifestyle and budget. They must also nurture and strengthen patient relationships, making each patient feel comfortable, valued, and supported. This includes answering patients’ questions, reassuring them, and making them feel like they’re getting customized treatment – not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. 

Quality of services
This metric focuses on the services provided by the entire office staff, not just the audiologist. This measures how well your staff is doing, starting with a patient’s first phone call to your office and following the entire patient journey, including follow-up care and support.

Is the receptionist friendly and willing to answer patients’ questions? Is it easy to get an appointment? Is the front desk staff warm and welcoming? When a patient is having a problem, can they get immediate support and solutions? Quality of services KPIs evaluate how easy it is to talk to office staff, how quickly and easily patients can get office appointments, appointment wait times, overall professionalism and friendliness of the clinic team, etc.   

Sales rates
This KPI is typically measured by month, quarter, and year, and determines whether your clinic is meeting sales goals and other set metrics. Clinical performance directly impacts KPIs, including sales numbers, return rates, and profits. Proper diagnosis, device recommendations, and fittings will lead to increased sales rates. Conversely, if your practitioners are underperforming, not making proper diagnoses, not fitting hearing aids well, and not considering each patient’s specific needs, budget, and severity of hearing loss, your sales numbers will likely suffer. By tracking sales numbers by practitioner, you’ll get important insights into clinical performance. 

Most people (92%) trust referrals from people they know. In fact, 65% of new business opportunities come from referrals and recommendations, and people referred by their friends and family have a 37% higher retention rate. It’s clearly important to maximize referrals to your clinic! Practitioner performance can dramatically drive referrals when patients have positive experiences at your hearing practice. On the other hand, a poor experience can cause word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals to plummet. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to track clinician performance, and proactively fix any performance issues immediately.

An Invaluable Tool to Assess Clinical Performance 

Discover White Background

Auditdata Discover, an analytics platform that makes your business transparent by providing you with metrics from key areas of your business, is invaluable in assessing clinical performance.  

Discover’s reports provide helpful insights on how your audiologists and staff members are performing. For instance, you can calculate their productivity to determine how many patients they see each day, and whether they’re hitting pre-determined benchmarks for success. You can also measure staff performance and KPIs, such as their sales and conversion numbers, return rates, and more. This information can help you calculate bonuses and other metrics-based financial incentives. 

Using Discover, clinic leaders can see comprehensive, integrated data across the organization and/or drill down by location or provider. This data also helps you identify any lower-performing staff members, so you can provide additional training and support, or take other actions, as necessary, to boost their performance. 

Discover is a critical tool for audiology shops and clinics, and it works seamlessly with Auditdata’s other solutions, including Manage, our Practice Management System, and Measure, our portfolio of audiological equipment run by advanced software.

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