MGMA Online Survey and Benchmarking System: A Case Study
Medical Group Management Association
Online Survey and Benchmarking System: A Case Study
Authored by: Amadeus Consulting
March 31, 2010
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) is the premier membership association for professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices. MGMA provides resources to members which include educational tools, networking opportunities, up-to-date regulatory and legislative information affecting medical group practices, access to the latest news in healthcare, and other resources to assist them in managing their practices. MGMA also conducts extensive industry research, including surveys to gather critical practice management data from its members. The resulting analysis is used to define performance benchmarks and trends or other industry metrics which MGMA members can compare to their own practices to manage their practices more effectively.
The Business Information Services within the Information Technology department area of MGMA has a huge job. This area is essentially the business-facing unit of Information Technology, acting as a liaison between business units and the IT needs of the organization. The employees perform ongoing analysis for every new project that comes through the group; analyzing cost perspective and the benefits to MGMA, and they work closely with the internal developer staff to do integrations and new development.
In addition to the multitude of other projects that come through the Business Information Services unit, one project in particular came to the attention of the senior manager of the department, Fran Iannucci. The project was a request for an integrated system for gathering and storing survey data through the web. The organization was using paper surveys which posed a number of utilization issues. Only one person could work on a survey at a time. MGMA didn't have a database repository, and the Excel spreadsheets and data from paper surveys were stored in flat files. MGMA had difficulty in effectively performing change control, managing updates or changes to files, and needed a way to centrally manage all the data coming in.
Additionally, MGMA needed a central location that tracked who replied to survey questionnaires, as well as the ability to enter data and track ongoing participation. MGMA's members were ready for an online system and MGMA wanted to develop web-based reporting once it had the database of data in order to allow members to access the benchmarking information they were seeking online.
MGMA explored using 3rd party tools but they didn't have the robust features and capabilities the organization required to differentiate themselves in the market. Intricate processes are involved in MGMA's survey systems and the organization needed a solution that would reengineer the entire process. Some vendors had the capacity to handle the web survey, but MGMA had other needs including checking in surveys, tracking who took the survey and backend processes of cleansing data and keeping it in a central place. MGMA wanted an application that would do more than just surveys; it wanted the ability to pull reports and edit and fine tune survey results.
Fran Iannucci had her work cut out for her. She conducted six months of vendor research trying to find the perfect vendor. She knew that there was no way an out-of-the-box solution would solve the organization's problems without a ton of additional customizations to the product. She looked into a couple custom vendors and hadn't found a great match until Amadeus Consulting, a Boulder-based custom application development company. Fran liked that Amadeus Consulting was local and she said, "We realized that an ongoing relationship could be developed. Amadeus Consulting doesn't just say 'here is your software' and leave you. We knew that the company would assist us through the duration of the project; and provide a solution that would meet our needs." Fran also appreciated the business model the custom software developer employs and knew that MGMA would not get lost in the shuffle.
MGMA's online survey system was first deployed in early 2007 and included many logistical advantages throughout the program in administration, distribution, data entry, analysis and reporting. Online surveys enable real-time validation and verification of responses, ensuring the quality and integrity of survey data. The accelerated survey cycle, from survey creation to published results and analysis, provides more current industry data to MGMA members. A new survey portal exists for participants to submit data, as well as obtain information about the surveys and results including benchmark data and reports.
Additionally, powerful, interactive reporting with advanced data visualization was developed. Online reporting tools are available to participants including easy access to complete historical results and trend analysis. This has allowed MGMA's analysts to extract meaningful information quickly without advanced programming skills.
The MGMA employees are extremely pleased with this tool for several reasons including that it enables all Survey Operations employees to access the system at the same time and they are able to increase productivity as a result.
In terms of return, MGMA went from having approximately 80% of surveys on paper to approximately 70% of surveys online in the first year, and approximately 85% online by the second year. Now about 5% or less is paper-based. What previously took the work of three employees to enter the data for the paper surveys has been reduced to only one employee performing data entry. The analysts now have the ability to do more with the data. MGMA is able to produce more benchmarking tools to fit its membership's needs. An example is a new service line using the data to build a really robust data reporting service. The organization is also able to save months on time-to-market for key products due to the new software.
MGMA and Amadeus Consulting continue to work together developing enhancements and iterations of the system, including an enhancement to improve the custom calculation module and better handle statistical outlier data, as well as constant improvements year-after-year on the speed and performance of the system. Amadeus Consulting provides top-notch deployment, maintenance and support services beyond the development of any project, and MGMA was no exception. As a result of this strong process, any issues were quickly addressed and enhancements developed.
Case Study Images
Below are several screen shots of the robust web-based survey building tool. In addition to offering what a typical survey system offers, it allows for year-to-year trending of questions and answers, even when the questions themselves change. The survey allows for simple form inputs as well as the ability to input complex matrix-based data. OLAP is the engine behind the web-based reporting tool which enables full interactive benchmarking and ad hoc reporting designed by Amadeus Consulting.