Support Staff Ratio

September 1, 2005

How do I measure support staff ratio?

Question: How do I measure support staff ratio?

Answer: The simplest way to measure support staff ratio - how many staff you have relative to the total number of of FTE physicians in the group - is to divide the number of full-time support staff you have (based on a 40-hour workweek) by the number of FTE physicians.

"For example, let's say you employ two nurses, two receptionists, two billers, and an administrator. All work full time, so that equals seven support staff. If your group has 1.57 FTE physicians, you have 4.58 full-time staffers for each full-time physician.

"Why do you need the ratio? It's a way to benchmark your practice against the staffing levels of other practices to roughly estimate whether you have too many or too few staff. Keep in mind, however, that cutting staff can sometimes also cut revenue and that better-performing practices tend to have more staff than the norm, not fewer. More support staff, for example, can mean physicians are better able to focus strictly on patient visits, boosting revenue overall, even if costs also are higher. Make sure the staff/physician ratio is not the only measurement you take before considering layoffs.