Hurst Hatch III, vice president of group corporate services at Nashville-based PhyCor, and Robert Zasa, a Pasadena, Calif.-based ambulatory systems consultant, go way back.
They simultaneously attended the University of Alabama, where they earned master's degrees in hospital and health administration in the mid-1970s. Together, they paid their dues in administration at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans and opened a consulting practice in 1986.
It's only natural that they should reunite at this year's MGMA conference, where they will jointly present the session "Identifying key indicators for financial performance" at 3: 45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18.
The two men believe in the importance of incorporating benchmarking into daily management, Hatch says. "If you keep your eye on the ball with some key measurements, you'll be well-served," he says.
Benchmarking is a hot topic among medical groups, many of which are struggling financially. In 1998, PhyCor made benchmarking and better practices the "centerpiece of its approach" to managing practices, Hatch says.
Better practices will be a major theme at the annual meeting of the southern and eastern sections of the MGMA to be held June 2000 in Marco Island, Fla., he adds.
"If you're the administrator of a group right now, you've got a lot on your plate. So we have to have something that allows the management team to effect some fundamental change" without adding a lot of complexity, Hatch says.
Hatch will discuss basic measures of the financial health of a practice, such as net revenues per physician, relative value units per physician and the mix of new vs. established patients.
Zasa, who was hired earlier this year to assist PhyCor with its ambulatory operations, will discuss key indicators for ancillary services, such as centers for surgery, urgent care, occupational medicine, diagnostics and women's services.
Zasa, formerly a vice president at American Medical International, founded and served as president and chief executive officer of Premier Ambulatory Systems, a Los Angeles-based operator of ambulatory surgery centers, in the early 1990s. He now is a principal at Woodrum/Ambulatory Systems Development in Pasadena.
In addition to traditional financial benchmarks, such as staffing ratios, the session will address clinical benchmarks, or outcomes, and relational benchmarks, such as patient satisfaction, physician participation in governance and qualitative indicators, including board certification.
Nonfinancial indicators are critical for gaining physician and staff acceptance, Hatch says.
Best practices are "like mom, apple pie and Chevrolet," Hatch says. But he added, "Execution is difficult."