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Excel: A Must-Have Tool in Your Practice Toolbox

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

Excel, or any spreadsheet program should be the go-to tool for any practice owner or manager who is tasked with data analysis.

Examples of some of the data that your practice should analyze.

  • What are my net collection percentages by payer?

  • Am I receiving reimbursement at cost plus for any vaccines and injectables I am supplying to patients?

  • Do I know the potential value of a contract offered by a payer or an Independent Physician Association?

  • What is the cost of adding a new provider or service line to my practice?

Your practice management system may already crunch numbers for you, but:
  1. Is it exactly the information you need?

  2. Is it in the format in which you need it?

  3. Can you extract information from the data?

  4. Is all the data I need to analyze found inside the practice management system?

One of the first rules of data analysis is “Know What You Are Looking At”. Schedule a conversation with your practice management system support team to be sure you understand where the system is pulling data from. A clear understanding of how your practice management system filters and reports your data is critical to producing information. Data only has the potential to become information when it is accurate and actionable.

Often, the data from your practice management system needs to be sliced and diced to produce information that is truly actionable. That's where Excel comes in.

How to learn Excel or improve your Excel skills.

If you know only enough Excel to get by, Nate Moore’s series on Excel is a great place to start. Because he is in the healthcare field, his examples make sense. His videos (new ones regularly) are free here:

I first wrote about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) back in 2013 and the list of offerings keeps growing and growing. Coursera offers buckets of free courses, including courses on Excel like these:

  • Microsoft: Microsoft office Fundamentals: Outlook, Word and Excel

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting Firm: Problem Solving With Excel

  • Rice University: Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel

For those of you that have the basics of Excel under your belt, proceed to learning about Pivot Tables. They will become your new best friend.

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