Managing risk in a multi-site medical practice: 6 tips to make it easier
If your medical practice is experiencing substantial business growth, you may be considering opening – or already have – multiple practice locations. With more sites, you can offer more services and convenience for your patients, as well as attract new ones. For your business, the benefits include obvious economies of scale, but there can be challenges too. As a manager, it can be hard to keep on top of how each practice site is run when you can’t physically be there. This may lead to increased potential for clinical, business and safety risk. But with careful planning, and by setting up each practice location with consistency and standardisation in mind, you can improve efficiencies and reduce risk.
Here are some tips for how to manage risk remotely across your multi-site medical group.
1 Standardise your risk management strategy
Risk management is part of your business strategy and governance, and to adapt your existing risk strategy to a multi-site healthcare practice, you need to first review your practice’s risk profile. Add any new areas of clinical or corporate risk that may result from having more than one practice location, with more staff and patients, and new services.
It’s worth revisiting the RACGP Standards for General Practices to ensure your current systems and processes, as well as any new ones you introduce, are compliant – to reduce risk, whether or not your practice undergoes accreditation.
2 Create centralised processes you can adapt to each location
Digital technology makes it easy to streamline, standardise and automate your practice’s systems to improve compliance and save time and money. A centralised practice management platform that all sites can access, such as PracticeHub, is key to simplifying your processes at all practice locations.
PracticeHub’s onboard policies and procedures templates are aligned with Standards and flexible enough to customise to each of your site’s requirements. There are policy templates for high-risk areas including patient privacy and data security, infection control, patient communication and work, health and safety. PracticeHub’s Task Management feature lets you automate recurring tasks, for greater efficiency, accuracy and consistency, while saving time. The centralised dashboard gives you an overview of task allocations and status, plus automated alerts and reminders ensure no task is missed.
Being able to centrally control tasks at your various sites ensures consistency of your processes at each location, so your team can deliver safer, better quality healthcare – thereby reducing your practice’s risk potential.
3 Communicate frequently with your team
Keeping your clinical and non-clinical staff in the loop between practice sites may seem challenging, but again, digital technology makes it easy. With software like PracticeHub, you can send staff emails, messages, alerts and reminders about tasks, practice news, upcoming meetings etc.
Regular communication ensures your team stays up to date with what’s going on at the practice and what’s expected of them, helping reduce errors and risk. Encouraging open communication also helps your team members feel more valued through being able to contribute their ideas and opinions for improving the practice and reducing risk.
4 Keep on top of practitioner credentialing compliance
One area of risk that’s time-consuming and error prone is practitioner credentialing – and that can be just for a single-site practice! Manually checking medical indemnity insurance certificates and Ahpra registrations are current can add to your risk, if human error is involved, not to mention lapsed credentialing increasing your regulatory or patient safety risk.
5 Maintain consistency and continuity with equipment
With a multi-site medical practice, there are more medical equipment to keep track of, to ensure insurances stay current. Switching from paper-based to digital documentation makes this task easier to monitor across all your practice locations.
PracticeHub’s integrated equipment and contract registers include automated reminders for renewals and maintenance across practice sites. You can link to relevant regulatory standards and to your practice policies on equipment operation and maintenance so all staff can access the current information. And by storing a record of your equipment, you have an audit trail showing evidence of calibration, sterilisation or repairs, which is helpful should you experience an adverse event, and makes accreditation preparation quicker.
6 Prioritise cyber and data security
While there’s no doubt moving your practice management online improves time and cost efficiencies, there is increased risk exposure to data loss, patient privacy breaches and cyber attack. So it’s important to have policies and processes for managing cyber security across your multi-site practice – such as those policy templates included in PracticeHub.
Ensure your IT provider has set up the computers and devices at each location with the latest security protocols. And again, the RACGP Standards are a useful resource to check your cyber safety practices are current and compliant. It’s also important to train your staff in cyber security practices and what to do in the event of a data breach, to mitigate your practice risk.
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 2022.