This episode of the Member Spotlight podcast features Martin Shehan, vice president of Mercer Health Medical Group in Coldwater, OH. Mercer Health, with 43 providers and 17 locations, is an MGMA Better Performer for the second year in a row.
Shehan speaks on transparency, benchmarking, and unwillingness to settle for mediocrity. If you'd like to hear Shehan share the many ways that Mercer Health is continuously improving processes, please consider giving the full episode a listen.
Editor’s note: The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: You must be wearing many hats at any given time. Give us an idea, then. What’s your primary focus? What does your day-to-day look like?
A: We have been very fortunate; we've had continual growth year to year over the last five years that I've been here with the organization. In addition to those numbers, we strive to focus on customer service. And … my philosophy about this is, your customer is anybody you look at, except the person in the mirror; it's your co-workers, it's your providers, it's your patients, their family members. And we really focus on providing the best customer service we can. We focus on our employees and our providers and try our best to make it the best working environment that it can be. We spend a lot of time at work and with each other. So we try to touch base with our folks; I do rounding every month, try to visit each of our practices, talk to our providers, talk to staff, make sure their needs are met. Do they have the training and resources and equipment to do their jobs? Because if they're not happy, they're not going to provide quality service to our patients.
One of the other things that we do is, I meet with each practice on a monthly basis, and go over their dashboard, or their key performance indicator reports. And we review everything there from quality and our HEDIS and patient satisfaction measures to revenue cycle management. An example on that one is we're in the top percentile with MGMA in our performance and revenue cycle management. And I emphasize to everyone the importance that everyone's important, from the receptionist, to the clinical staff, to the providers, to the leadership team, to our care managers, to the billing department. If everyone in that cycle isn't doing their role and doing it timely, we wouldn't have 57%, gross collection rate, 99% net collection rate.
Q: When you got your benchmarking results back what are some of the themes that emerged for you and your team? Where is your team excelling?
A: We review these statistics monthly, so it wasn't a surprise. But we've talked about the good, the bad and the ugly, again - total transparency. Revenue cycle management (is) one of the easiest discussions I've ever had in an organization because our numbers have always been top tier. But a couple of years ago, I set an initiative. Unfortunately, like many practices, our bottom line is a negative number. And I said, ‘Folks, I want to set a goal of achieving X this year, X loss per provider, reducing our losses to this number.’ And as you can imagine, I had some deer in the headlight looks from the providers (who) said, ‘Well, how are you going to do that?’ … And instead of saying, ‘I need you to produce this many more wRVUs, or I need you to do this,’ I broke it down and said, ‘I need your office to see one more patient a day, 1.5 patients a day.’ And by doing that, they were able to say, ‘That's all you need. That's all we have to do to achieve that goal.’ And we did it. But it's breaking it down to what they can associate with.
(Speaking about physicians) Those quality measures and HEDIS reporting speaks their language, and they were very engaged. And I have tried to subtly emphasize (that) we don't want to be mediocre, and so I intentionally have (provided a) full display of each provider by office, (and) how they're performing compared to the others in their office. But then also, we have a quarterly all-provider meeting, and I throw all the providers up on that slide by the same specialty, and show how they compare to each other. And let me assure you, there's some deep breaths, and some competitive juices start flowing.
Q: You mentioned not settling for mediocrity, and so you’re always looking to improve. What are the ways that you’re looking at taking that success to a higher level?
A: I am a process improvement person. I like to know how things work, why they work the way they do, why things have to happen. And so we're constantly in a process … of always looking at what we could do better. We have a culture of anything's open for review and consideration. Unless we can come up with a hard stop of why we shouldn't try it, we try it. Because we can always go back to the old way. But if we don't try something new, we don't know if it's going to work or not. …
One of the creative things that we’ve done is we’ve partnered with one of the local school systems to provide virtual visits in the school. So if Johnny is coming in to see the pediatrician for a med check, or for a counseling session or something like that, we actually schedule it as a virtual visit, we have a room that's dedicated at the school, we have a nurse that goes to the school to triage as the patient gets the parent on the phone, or on the virtual visit, and then connects with the provider. And we facilitate the visit right there.
Q: For practices who are considering becoming a better performer next year, what advice would you give?
A: I can't emphasize enough, it is an investment of time, but participate in the (MGMA) data surveys. Submit your data to the surveys, participate in the surveys, just going through that. If you're not already organized, it'll seem like you're pulling teeth because it is so detail oriented, but it gives you such a great insight to the depth and knowledge of data and information that's available to you.
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