Are you across these essential strategies for effective practice management?
Underpinning every successful healthcare practice and its processes is a robust, well-thought-out strategy. But in your role as a practice manager, how often do you get the time away from the business operations to focus on the strategy?
The difference between operational and strategic management
Strategic management looks at the big picture; planning the direction and setting goals for the growth of the business. Operational management is the actionable, administrative tasks to get you there.
Ideally, as a practice manager, 80% of your time would be spent on strategic management and 20% on admin and operations. We polled our recent webinar attendees and found only 7% of practice managers have that balance, while 56% are 20% strategic to 80% admin and 37% at 50-50%.
Step back from the doing, to balance strategy and tasks
To allow yourself more time to spend on planning and strategy, you need to delegate more of the operational tasks to your team. And to do that you need a clear understanding of the practice’s broader vision and how each task helps achieve that vision.
In your role as practice manager, you may be required to consider these eight core strategic principles of practice management that make up your corporate governance framework:
- human resources
- planning and marketing
- information management
- risk management
- governance and organisational dynamics
- business and clinical operations
- professional responsibility.
These principles inform the daily tasks that keep the business running, as well as its culture and ongoing growth. Knowing what’s expected of you and your team in each of these areas may help you delegate more responsibilities to your staff, so you can concentrate more on the strategic aspect of your role.
What does strategic management look like?
There are five main tasks for effective strategic management:
- Develop and manage the strategic vision and mission for your business: Everything in your organisation spins off your practice’s reason for being: your mission, vision and values. As practice manager, you need to be involved in creating them so you can implement them and inspire your team to do the same.
- Set objectives and goals for the business. These flow out of your practice vision and mission. Think about what you want the practice to achieve – what are your objectives and desired outcomes for the people you serve and for the people who work in it?
- Design strategies to achieve the business outcomes. This is about designing strategies and processes to achieve your business outcomes: what tasks or processes will make them happen?
- Implement and execute these strategies. This is where you, as practice manager, ensure the strategy is carried out. Important here is who you bring along with you – your team – and how. Again, it comes back to your values. They’re not just words stuck on a wall, they are what you live by every day. Every decision and action is based on your practice’s values and by encouraging conversations around them, it’s easier for everyone in the practice to work towards them.
- Evaluate and measure performance. This is how you identify what works and what doesn’t. In your strategy planning, decide on your measures of success and how often you’ll review performance against those measures.
Useful resources to help with your strategic business planning include Avant's Introduction to business planning and 6 essential steps to starting your own medical clinic.
PracticeHub also includes goal writing tools to help your business strategy and planning. And when it comes to operationalising your strategy, PracticeHub has inbuilt policies and procedures templates aligned with the RACGP standards, to reduce risk and keep you compliant. They are comprehensive and customisable, saving you time and the stress of having to create them from scratch. With your practice vision, strategy and processes centrally stored in the online platform, they are accessible to the whole team, which aids productivity and performance.
Becoming a more effective strategic practice manager
Leadership is key to implementing your practice strategy. Part of your role includes nurturing your team’s personal growth and independence, trusting and empowering them by delegating more tasks, then acknowledging their achievements and success in good times, while encouraging a positive attitude in tough times.
It starts with creating an inclusive working environment where everyone feels welcome, valued for their contributions, and appreciated despite gender, race, education or social background. You can instil this culture right from the interview stage, discussing with candidates what you expect from them and what they will get in return.
For onboarding new recruits, you might consider creating a welcome video featuring the practice team or owners, so they get a sense of the practice vision and mission, and what it’s like to work there. This can be stored in PracticeHub, with access given to the new team member when they start. You can also provide access to your staff code of conduct policies, things such as internet, email and social media use.
Encourage an open-door policy so your team knows they can knock on your door and talk about any issues. However, don’t just listen to their concerns or problems, encourage them to think about solutions. What can they themselves do to make it better? This is really empowering and helps them grow in their role.
Delegation and training of your team members also helps their ongoing development and sense of ownership in their roles. Everyone learns differently, so it’s important to get to know each of your team’s learning style to tailor their training. PracticeHub’s online learning modules cover some of the most common medico-legal and employment areas where lapses can expose your practice to risk. Progress is easily tracked so you can record and recognise completion and identify knowledge gaps.
These are some examples of strategic practice management in action. Using PracticeHub to clearly document and store these policies and processes means everyone knows what’s going on in the practice. They’re quick and easy to update too, which helps give you more time to move closer to that 80% strategic focus.
Our recent webinar "The strategic role of an effective practice manager' features more tips and examples from Senior Operations Manager Gemma Gough.Watch the replay
Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant and PracticeHub are not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2021.