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How University of Louisville Physicians Grew Visits by 10% and Saved Millions

University of Louisville Physicians (ULP) is a leading academic medical center, offering one of the largest, multi-specialty physician practices in Kentucky. With 78 specialties, more than 900 providers and more than 200 practice locations, ULP’s physicians offer compassionate, expert care to people of all ages and backgrounds.

In 2020, a community provider group comprised of more than 200 providers joined ULP, building on the center’s mission to increase community access to specialty care. ULP’s leadership team set out to integrate services using methods that would grow patient offerings and enhance operational efficiency. Across both the academic and community provider operations, the teams successfully increased ambulatory patient visits by 10 percent and achieved $6 million in combined savings and revenue enhancements.

Wade Mitzel, ULP’s chief operating officer, shares how the organization experienced rapid growth and improved access to underserved patients.

The opportunity

As we introduced 250 new employees into our expanded medical group structure in 2020, we recognized the need for updated and standardized analytics tools, operational workflows and change management strategies. We want to ensure our provider teams have the best tools and resources at their fingertips to effectively offer care for a growing, diverse population.

The approach

To drive operational efficiencies and financial growth, we engaged Premier’s Physician Enterprise Solutions consultants to help us maximize our approach. Premier offered compelling, evidence-based methods to integrate our teams, identifying ways to optimize workflows, increase patient access and leverage the power of data to drive improvements.

The results

Our physician and administrative leaders from the health system, medical group and school of medicine partnered hand-in-hand with Premier to identify key strategic priorities and establish aligned practice standards.

The changes – which incorporated updating staffing models to support clinical employees, an overhaul of the appointment notification system to reduce no-show rates, and new technologies to improve patient volumes and patient lag time – resulted in a more than 10 percent increase in ambulatory visits among in-scope providers.

Key initiatives included:

  • Rapid medical group integration. Our team of medical and community physicians is continually growing as we strive to meet the needs of our underserved community. Change management and effective communication strategies enabled us to smoothly onboard 250 providers from a community-based acquisition within 90 days.
  • Standardized enterprise analytics. Thanks to Premier’s business intelligence platform, InflowHealth, we identified performance improvement opportunities and standardized team approaches. Our strategy married standard reports and dashboards with regular leadership coaching sessions so that we could identify, realize and ultimately sustain our gains.
  • Specialty-specific workflows. Previously, provider scheduling templates varied greatly among subspecialty, academic and medical group teams, creating differences in how staff approached scheduling patients in the ambulatory setting. Our department leadership and frontline teams partnered closely with Premier, evaluating over 1,000 provider scheduling templates across the organization. We improved how time at appointments was being spent, enabling us to adjust operational and staffing models to benefit both patients and providers.
  • Improved patient access. With the need for improved patient access to ambulatory care, we built strategies to optimize both provider and patient experiences, including expanding our telehealth offerings in March 2020 in response to the pandemic.

In all, we created 355 actionable workflow optimizations and strategies during the partnership. One of the most helpful aspects was the Premier experts’ commitment to working with department leadership to implement, monitor and measure the changes to ensure the positive gains in patient access and provider productivity were realized.

What advice would you share with other health systems and medical groups?

As a large, multi-specialty physician practice that sees patients across diverse backgrounds, we aim to provide the best environment for our patients, while also ensuring our clinical teams have the support they need to best care for the community. We’re accountable to our patients, who matter most.

In order to stay true to our core values as we evolve, we needed a trusted partner to help us grow with patient-centered care top-of-mind. Premier’s approach helped our organization align strategy, clinical efficiency and growth into a robust program that will set us apart in healthcare delivery in our region.

Further, ULP’s impressive revenue improvements – $6 million in reoccurring revenue enhancements and cost savings – were realized in just three months’ time. Amid a pandemic. No other time has our goal to provide excellent, efficient patient care been so tested, and no other time have we had such resolute achievements.

If you’re looking to standardize operations, improve efficiencies and take a data-driven approach to excellent patient care, learn more about Premier’s offerings.

Originally published in Modern Healthcare on March 1, 2021.

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