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Ask The Expert: SMA Census

Q: What is a good census for a SMA and why is it important?

A: The key ingredient to a successful SMA is to have adequate census. When you do not have enough patients in the group, it's kind of like showing up to a party with not enough guests.  It's long, boring and most cannot wait to leave.  And, it also does not make financial sense.

The goal for a SMA is to double or triple the amount of patients you would normally see in individual visits.  To determine how many patients you should have in your SMA, you should first find out what your actual throughput is for the amount of time you plan to hold your SMA (most are 90 minutes).  Keep in mind, this is not just how many patients you schedule in 90 minutes.  You need to account for no shows and late cancelations.   The typical census of a SMA for physicals is 7 to 9 patients.  For other types where a physical exam is limited, you should target to have 10-12 patients.  You should also plan on booking 1-2 extra patients, depending on your anticipated no show rate.

It is helpful to set a minimum, target and maximum census for each SMA.   Keep a close eye on the census of upcoming SMAs as well.  You should look at least 4 weeks out and see the schedule 25% full in 4 weeks, 50% full in 3 weeks, 75% full in 2 weeks and your SMA in 1 week should be 100% full.  By doing this, you will ensure an adequate census and a successful SMA.