Why does a hospital need a time tracking platform?
Healthcare professionals are under a lot of stress because of their daily tasks and less-than-perfect organization. A lot of time is wasted on administrative and non-essential tasks. While all industries are aiming to utilize their time better and increase their profits, the medical field also deals with urgent cases, where wasted time can mean the difference between life and death.
In other words, inadequate time utilization doesn’t only result in loss of profit. It also causes stress, fatigue, and mental and physical problems for your staff. A time tracking program is a solution that can alleviate a large portion of stress and help your staff achieve a more balanced work routine.
Time Analytics measures the performance of hospitals, hospices, and medical offices by measuring key performance indicators (otherwise known as KPIs). KPIs are quantitative indicators of the state of your organization ad are determined by the data the time tracking software collects. They can help you make informed business decisions that will lead to an improvement to your team’s performance and overall well-being.
Time tracking data easily identify top and low performers and information about profit and loss accounts. It also helps managers and charge nurses redistribute tasks for a more equal workload for all employees. this way your doctors, nurses, and other staff will have a well-balanced work-life and be able to alleviate some stress. The transparency time tracking brings should help you identify interpersonal problems as well and point you to their resolution.
What are the most important categories to track?
Time tracking by employee
Tracking time by the employee is one of the cornerstones of time tracking, as it brings you the most valuable information about your team, such as:
- An insight into the structure of an average workday of your doctors, nurses, and other staff
- Understanding how effective their work is
- Identifying unproductive behaviors, and, more importantly, their causes
- Recognizing the most responsible team members and the low performers
- Insights into overtime, vacations, sick time, etc.
- Time utilization breakdown
Tracking time by work task
This type of time tracking reveals the current state of your organization and indicates the possibilities for improvement. Understanding the amount of time a certain type of task takes can help you determine both problems related to being understaffed and the time estimates for similar tasks in the future.
Additionally, tracking tasks can help you identify oversights in work organization as well as lapses in task delegation. Task tracking also indicates whether some tasks are unnecessary and time-consuming, which will help you determine if you should outsource them.
Tracking time by the patient
It is very important to understand the inner workings of your organization. However, it is not enough for financial security and success. Understanding the time, expertise, and resources invested into your patients is equally significant, as your profit depends on all those factors. These are the main benefits of tracking time by the patient:
- You will be able to discover the profit coming from each patient. Without tracking the time you can’t allocate costs to patients. Additionally, you won’t be able to make profit assessments.
- Receiving information about the most profitable interventions
- Insight into the possibility of redefining fees on low-performing services
Tracking time by the patient also gives you an accurate insight into your team’s efficiency on a patient level. It is crucial to understand how much time and resources go into actual care given to patients and how much is taken up by administrative tasks. It is also important to calculate the profit margins coming from these tasks.
How to track time – the basics
Find the golden middle
If you are looking for a time tracking solution that will help you measure productivity, you must have noticed how many solutions are offered. The platforms range from simple trackers that work on a clock in/clock out principle and offer one or two features. On the other end of the spectrum, there are complex platforms that take quite a lot of time to set up initially and use daily.
As you know, time is a crucial element in healthcare and can mean the difference between life and death for your patients. So, you should definitely reduce the time needed to log time. additionally, less computer-savvy doctors and nurses will need a more user-friendly solution. Otherwise, they will spend a lot of their valuable time logging their tasks.
However, a simple automatic timer cannot give you enough data to actually improve your business practices. That is why you need to find a way to track time quickly, but accurately. Timesheets could be the answer to that.
Don’t breach trust
Time tracking software solutions offer many different ways to track. The most notorious method is screenshotting your employees’ desktops at set or random intervals. As you can imagine, this practice isn’t very popular with employees in any field, as it implies a lack of trust and represents a high level of micromanagement. Additionally, using the screenshot method can oppose the GDPR in some countries.
When we look at the medical field, it is obvious that screenshots would be obsolete, as doctors, nurses, and other staff don/t spend most of their time on computers (except for admission personnel). Hence, timesheets seem like a good solution in this regard as well.
Even though each patient represents a unique case, they go through a similar procedure when in a hospital, hospice, in-home care, nursing home, etc. This means that there is a plethora of tasks that can be divided and categorized together into a finite number of task types.
Your time tracking platform should offer the option of creating recurring tasks, so the staff can access the list and log their time quickly instead of making a separate entry for each task they work on.
This practice will make time tracking easier for the doctors and nurses, and also alleviate the stress of going through all entries to find a specific piece of information.
Knowing your realistic billable rate is the foundation of running a hospital, nursing home, hospice, or another medical institution. The realistic billable rate can be calculated once the patient’s treatment is finished and invoiced. Then you can divide total revenues by spent billable hours by employees who worked with that specific patient.
It is also important to know your planned (expected) billable rate for every employee or client. Once you have both of these values you can determine whether they match and how big is the difference between them. Medical institutions, like any other business, aim to remain profitable. In other words, the realistic and expected billable rates should be as close to one another as possible.
Time tracking software automatically calculates these rates. It either automatically determines employee default billable rates as they track time spent with a specific patient, or the employees can adjust their rates manually. Time tracking systems allow for the implementation of a billable hours chart, which is a time saver and can help you remain even more profitable.
A medical institution’s cost rates are comprised of the hourly rate based on general expenses and the employee hourly rates which are based on their pay and direct expenses. Time tracking software should define the cost rate automatically and calculate cost rates per patient.
Reviewing the timesheets
Reviewing employee timesheets is a crucial part of time tracking software in the medical field. Timesheets are important for work hours verification, but also track breaks, overtime, different types of leaves, and other metrics. Some countries made timesheets a mandatory addition to payroll slips when paying the salaries.
You can find a lot of great timesheet templates that offer different solutions. However, there are some fields any good timesheet should contain. Here are some of them:
- List of activities performed per patient
- Details of the completed and ongoing tasks
- Total hours spent
- The structure of billable and non-billable hours
- Hourly billing rates
The importance of collected data
Tracking time is only the first step in utilizing all the possibilities time tracking platforms offer. Using the data you collect is the second, and more important step.
That is why creating high-quality, clear, and accurate reports is one of the most important features a time tracking platform can offer. These reports should lead you to make positive business decisions and improving the overall quality of your organization.
Time Analytics offers data about the total hours, the ratio of billable and non-billable hours, expenses, clients, employees, etc. You will be able to observe the data in real-time and historically. This way you will be able to resolve current and underlying problems alike.
Time tracking and the billing process
Time tracking makes creating accurate itemized invoices for your clients simple. In only a couple of clicks, you will be able to create a bill that accounts for all activities and resources that went into caring for a patient.
You cannot calculate efficiency or profitability indicators if you don’t track your costs per patient. Only by tracking will you be able to evaluate employees and understand the way your organization operates on every level.
How to track costs per patient
There are many calculations to be done if you want to keep track of your costs. Here is an example.
The total cost rate is comprised of the pay rate and the overhead cost rate. The pay rate is calculated by dividing the gross salary by the average monthly number of working hours. The overhead cost rate requires a little more math, as you first need to determine total overhead expenses (equipment maintenance and purchases, different medical supplies, utility expenses, etc.). Then you have to divide this sum by the total number of employees to get the overhead expenses per employee. Finally, you should divide this number by the average number of monthly working hours for the overhead hourly rate.
Now you can add these cost rates and calculate the total cost rate. This way you’ll be able to determine how much each exam, procedure, and patient costs you. Time Analytics only needs a few inputs to do all of these calculations for you and allocate the costs to patients based on the time logged by your employees.
Which KPIs should a medical institution track?
Average billable rate on the institution level
This metric represents the average amount your institution makes for the work it does for the patients. It is important, as you should compare it to the planned billable rate. This way you’ll be able to make sure you are making the expected profit.
Employee billable rate
This indicator regards the hourly rate you bill your patients for a specific doctor, nurse, caregiver, etc. it is an integral part of determining your top and low performing staff members.
Tracking the realized employee billable rate and comparing it to the expected rate and total costs are crucial elements of accurate employee assessment.
Costs of patients and procedures
This KPI accounts for total expenses allocated to a patient or a procedure. Time tracking is integral to tracking your expenses, and the expense data is necessary to determine profits coming from individual patients. In other words, time tracking connects these two values.
Cost budgeting for your next budgeting cycle gets a lot easier and more accurate with the data on expenses by intervention and client.
Time utilization represents the ratio of billable and non-billable hours within total hours spent. The management needs this KPI to understand how much time is taken up by making a profit and how much is in non-billable activities like administration, admissions, etc.
Procedure/intervention billable rate
This indicator is important, as it informs you about whether you are making a profit from the interventions and procedures you are providing. It is a great way to adjust your fees for future billing cycles.
You can calculate the average billable rate per procedure by dividing the total revenue from that procedure by the total hours spent on it.
Patient billable rate
This metric offers all information you need on the average billable rate you get per patient. You calculated by dividing the total income by total hours invested in a patient.
Billing rate utilization
This KPI shows the ratio between the planned profit and the profit you achieved. It is calculated as such.
There are many different activities medical and other staff in a healthcare facility need to complete daily. An insight into these tasks can help the management identify lapses in task delegation and organizational oversights. Understanding the structure of the task and how much time each of them takes up is the basis for a higher efficiency level.
Reasons for overtime
The management of any medical institution should be interested in finding out the reasoning behind overtime. As you know, medical staff already has longer shifts than most other professions. Overtime can be a result of the demands of work itself, or a consequence of unproductive behavior, lack of communication, inadequate delegation, etc. That is why it’s important to review timesheets and understand where they need for overtime is coming from. Only then will you be able to find an appropriate solution. Timesheets are a tool that can clue you in.
Time tracking as a practice isn’t very popular among medical staff. Among other reasons, the large amount of paperwork necessary for the functioning of a medical institution is to blame for this. However, the benefits of time tracking outweigh the flaws. especially so if you choose a simple and effective system.
Time tracking should never be used as a means to punish or micromanage your staff. Instead, you should consider current and repeating problems within your organization and find productive solutions for them. These positive time tracking practices are more likely to get your staff on board as well.
Time Analytics offers a simple and powerful solution. It takes only a few minutes to fill the timesheets, but the data it collects is enough to create powerful reports that will benefit your organization and bring balance to your team.
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