Whether your healthcare practice is small or large, there are many smart ways to develop your practice management skills for long-term success.
How is practice size evaluated?
The size of a practice is typically measured by the number of professional practitioners operating in the firm.
A small firm is recognised as having up to four or five practitioners. The focus is on General Practice and is owned and operated by a single individual or a partnership. They tend to have two or three nurses, a small number of administrative staff and a part-time Practice Manager.
Large practices are often owned by a corporation which operates several firms. These practices are staffed by anywhere from 10 to 15 doctors, where the majority are employees. A range of allied services might also be offered. There will be a full-time Practice Manager, several receptionists, administrative assistants, and up to six nurses.
What are the likely challenges for small or large practices?
- The number of doctors choosing them has more than halved over the last 20 years
- Risk of extra work-load especially when a team member is unavailable
- A smaller administrative team can require doctors to handle the red tape and paperwork – often after hours
- They are often run on very lean budgets which limits extra equipment purchases or equipment upgrades
- Inadequate staffing levels can halt growth and can make the management of client data haphazard
- Overall, the industry is facing plummeting job satisfaction and burnout
- Lack of continuity of client care as they tend to see the GP who is available
- Loose client relationships and client retention can become an issue
- Combined with a lack of perceived autonomy of practitioners can lead to a lack of satisfaction
- The overall numbers on the team can make it difficult to develop team cohesion
- A sense of isolation can grow when team members are not part of the decision-making used to develop the practice and plan future improvements
Practice Managers are vital to both small and large practices
A skilled Practice Manager will become invaluable by increasing team cohesion, where GP’s and support staff work together to improve staff and patient experiences. They ensure everyone in the practice is involved in the decision making for ongoing improvements. Continuously streamlining processes to reduce red tape and paperwork load is imperative. These steps allow GP’s to focus on the personalised continuity of care.
Allocating resources can lead to cost saving and free up funds to employ more administrative staff and upgrade equipment. Clinics with an associated allied health team provide more immediate access to a fuller spectrum of health care. Access to better equipment provides clients a one-stop-shop access to more complex procedures and levels of care. Consider if a Nurse Practitioner could handle the monitoring of patients with chronic illnesses – again freeing up more time for GPs. Client retention can also benefit as a client who cannot see their GP because they are too busy is potentially a lost client.
A great Practice Manager will be looking for opportunities to grow client numbers now GP’s have more time for clinical practice. When promoting the clinic, emphasise the small, friendly environment with personal continuity of care.
The challenge for Practice Managers is developing a satisfied, cohesive, collaborative team where clients feel supported and cared for in a complete health care experience. Offer ways to include team members in decision making. Ensure they see their contribution is valued and implemented where possible. If client retention is an issue, regularly seek feedback from patients to check the temperature of their satisfaction and loyalty levels.
Growth tips for small and large practice management success
Train all team members to make client relationships their priority. Most practices spend an average 90% of marketing resources to attract new patients. However, retaining existing patients is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to grow your practice. Nurturing relationships with existing patients will increase referrals. Make one person happy, they will tell four people, make one person unhappy they’ll tell ten.
Increase the frequency of your communications – in marketing terms it’s called ‘touches’. You can do this through emails, newsletters, social media, and a dynamic and informative website. Having a blog will increase your SEO presence ensuring web searches list your services first. Develop an active community presence by sponsorships, open days and information and training events.
Practice Managers have the power to influence the experience of the client, the community and the team in positive and beneficial ways, whether practices are small or large.