The Medical Marketing blog focuses on how physicians can leverage the Internet to grow medical practices and apply technology to solve common business problems. The blog is led by Tony Mork, MD, an endoscopic spinal surgeon.

BLOG: Number of new patients is the most important key performance indicator

Most physicians have a solid background in science and are grounded in the scientific method as a way to evaluate and guide their medical decisions, but these methods are rarely applied to medical practices on a routine basis.

When you evaluate your patients, there are certain numbers and lab values that have meaning and give you a quick overview of the situation. A similar systematic approach must be applied to your practice. There are certain numbers — key performance indicators (KPI) — that you must know to quickly assess the health of your practice.

The most important KPI is the number of new patients coming into your practice. This number is obtained by tracking and is essential to your sustainability. It is also an incredibly difficult number to retrieve unless you have a system in place to capture this information on a daily basis. There is no point in thinking about marketing or how effective that new $10,000 website is until you know these numbers.

Action steps to ascertain this and other KPIs include implementing a system to gather data with an information sheet. This form needs to include prospective patients’ names, emails and how they found you or came into your practice. The form can be on a piece of paper or in a customer relations management system. The latter is more appropriate for larger practices. Regardless of how you implement this process, data are collected daily and are examined weekly or at least monthly.

Everyone wants to know what the future is and this is your chance to know it. New patients coming into your practice will predict your financial future. If there is a change in your numbers, you need to know why. Start tracking now and look at the data weekly and monthly.

Next month, we will discuss how tracking information can be used to grow your practice. Stay tuned.

Tony Mork, MD, is a practicing endoscopic spinal surgeon and author of Medical Marketing Demystified, a book that teaches physicians how to leverage the internet to grow their medical practices. Mork also launched the Medical Website Academy, an educational website that highlights how to apply technology solutions to solve business problems. He can be reached at email: drtmork@gmail.com or www.tonymorkmd.com.