Patients Over Estimated Completion Date
The impact the pandemic and its restrictions has made a huge increase in the number of patients over estimated completion date for many offices. This includes the closure, reduced number of patients in the office, patients that are not comfortable coming into the office as well as many other factors. The goal for offices is to have the number of patients over treatment time under 8% of active patients in treatment. A great way to measure and monitor your practice is to implement Gaidge Data Analytics. They streamline the process of measuring your data into charts to help you identify areas for improvement.
Using Gaidge as a tool for accurate reporting, this is comparison data for January 2020 vs January 2021.
In January 2020 US offices reported an average of 25.14% or 311 total patients beyond estimated completion date with 172 of them 180+ days over and 71 over 1 – 59 days over.
January 2021 these same offices reported an average of 29.85% or 383 total patients beyond estimated completion date with 206 of them over 180+ days and 94 patients 1 – 59 days over.
With the gain in the number of patients over 180 days past treatment time, it is filling your schedule with more appointments than planned for or your schedule can handle. Getting this number reduced will ease the schedule and allow for more growth and production over the summer months. Additional starts added without reducing the number of overdue patients will compound an already challenging schedule.
The first step in addressing a higher that desired number is to run the report in your practice management software. After running the report review the data to confirm numbers are accurate. I often find this report includes patients not in treatment or inaccurate data. Also, confirm your status changes are set up properly to move patients into their correct status when a code is posted. The clinical team must understand the importance of posting the correct code and which codes have triggers attached ~ changing status, progress reports, charges, etc.
Running your reports and not implementing tools to address the high number is wasting time. Run your reports but then do something about them. For offices with a high number of patients over treatment time I would include the team in reducing this number. Implementing three positions into the process will help address the number as well as tools to understand what got you there in the first place. Even if you clean up the numbers today, they will continue to reappear without understanding how these patients got over treatment time. Whether it is compliance, multiple doctors, or inaccurate treatment time estimates, it can only get reduced with determining the cause and make changes accordingly.
Implementing these three positions will get you on the path of reduction:
#1 Managing patients that are over ECD.
- Run the monthly report of patient over ECD.
- Clean up statuses - confirm patients are in correct status.
- Report at monthly staff meeting any trends that are observed.
- Analyze coding is used accurately and status changes are in place.
#2 Daily manager
- Run the weekly report beyond ECD with an appointment scheduled in the upcoming week.
- Prioritize these patients and move some into open slots.
- Manage use of upcoming appointment openings.
- Report at the morning huddle all patients beyond ECD
#3 Treatment efficiency manager
- Complete the treatment efficiency monitor for all patients that are debanded in that month.
- Report on the trends of each completed treatment.
- Work with Dr(s). to give accurate treatment times in the exam
With summer coming and hopefully an increase in production, a focus on reducing the number of patients over treatment time now will free up appointments in your schedule. Having more active patients without adjusting/increasing the number of available appointments will cause overriding and over booking of appointments. Wishing you all a production and manageable summer.