Successful medical practices get these 6 things right – does yours?
Many factors determine the success of a medical practice. And while a healthcare business is subject to more regulatory constraints and obligations than a non-medical service-based business, there are common elements that can determine the degree of your business success.
Here we will look at six essential factors for a more successful medical practice.
1. Planning and strategy
Creating a successful business requires forward thinking; looking at your big picture, with strategic planning for the short and long term. A detailed business plan and strategy provide the growth road map for your practice. It shows you the direction you’re going in, with the actions and timeline to get you there.
Your business vision, values and mission underpin your strategy and plan. They also help create your workplace culture and motivate your team. So, invest some time in documenting your answers to these questions:
- What does our practice stand for?
- Why do we do what we do?
- What staff and clientele do we want to attract?
- What does business growth and success look like for us?
Planning for growth includes foreseeing opportunities and roadblocks, so you can be prepared and proactive, rather than reactive. You need to plan for uncertainties too, and how to keep your business running in the event of a practice shutdown due to threats such as cyber attack, damage to your premises, or COVID-19 exposure.
2. Systems and processes
Running a medical practice efficiently is key to ensuring the actions in your business plan are done reliably and consistently. Paper-based systems can be time-consuming, when you can’t find what you’re looking for easily. Storing files on different computers makes it difficult for your team to update the right version of a document as needed, which potentially increases practice risk.
Successful practices are those moving from paper-based offices to centralised digital systems, with their processes, documentation and storage all in one place.
Your practice’s policies and procedures are the guidebook to how your team performs the tasks that deliver patient care and make your business goals real. So it’s important to have these in a format where they are accessible to your team and easy to update – especially if you are preparing for accreditation.
Good quality policies and procedures also help your practice improve its risk management processes, through standardising tasks for better consistency.
Online practice management platform, PracticeHub helps improve your systems and processes with customisable policies and procedures templates that are compliant with the RACGP’s Standards for general practices (5th edition). It stores all your practice documentation in one place, accessible from anywhere and makes oversight easy with a dashboard showing the status of all practice tasks.
You can store your business plan and strategy in PracticeHub, and its templates not only help reduce your practice risk, you can create specific processes around risk mitigation.
3. Invest in hiring and keeping good staff
Staff can make or break the success of your practice business. They keep your practice running and their interactions with your patients determine whether they feel cared for or not. Your team is your greatest asset and cost – not just in wages, so do your best to retain good people. High staff turnover is especially costly, so hire wisely, to ensure they align with your business vision. This can be more important than hiring based on experience. Skills can be learned, while a patient-focused vision either is or isn’t there.
To get the best performance from your team, you need to include your key performance indicators (KPIs) for each role at the planning and strategy stage. How will you measure success in your staff performance against the KPIs you set for other aspects of your practice growth?
PracticeHub helps keep your team engaged and in the loop with a message board feature where they can see updates, and contribute suggestions, which fosters inclusivity and collaboration. Its task management feature lets you assign role-specific tasks to your team and track their progress, for greater accountability without micro managing.
Staff training is an important part of nurturing and keeping your staff. The self-paced learning modules in PracticeHub make training and onboarding of staff easier and less overwhelming.
Not surprisingly, your business financial performance plays a major role in running a successful medical practice. Again, planning is pivotal in managing your finances so they achieve your business goals. You most likely have a business budget, but how often do you review it? Preparing a quarterly profit and loss statement gives you a snapshot of your income and expenses, so you can see areas for improvement. Ideally, you want to keep costs down while generating more income. Comparing, or benchmarking, your practice expenses against those of successful practices, and your industry more widely, gives you an accurate indication of whether your expenses are too high. So, where can you reduce spending? Negotiating a better deal on equipment, or a lower interest bank loan are two examples.
Successful medical practices are great at marketing and communicating their points of difference. This is what sets you apart from your competitors. Some practices promote each of their GP’s areas of interest in medicine, whether it’s women’s health, skin checks, paediatrics or travel medicine. Being specific helps you attract the clientele you want to serve, so you can serve them well.
Other examples of points of difference include: location, accessibility, opening hours, or on-site allied health services.
An online presence for your practice is crucial. A modern-looking, easy to navigate website helps attract new patients and keep existing patients informed. You may also want to have a presence on social media, for a more immediate way to keep your patients up to date with your practice news.
Be aware you need to abide by Ahpra’s advertising guidelines. For example, there are limitations to claims you can make about your services, and patient reviews or testimonials are not permitted on your social media pages or website. You can create a social media policy in PracticeHub, outlining your expectations for staff in adhering to Ahpra’s guidelines.
Reviews on Google or other open platforms are largely beyond your control, but you can try to take any negative feedback offline to resolve the issue.
6. Patient experience
While a medical practice is different to most service-based businesses, you are still in the business of serving your patients, so providing them with a positive experience, as well as excellent healthcare, is important to keep them.
Patients expect high quality healthcare these days, and they can easily go elsewhere if they feel they’ve experienced poor, inefficient communication and service from reception staff, or treatment by a clinical team member that was less than thorough or compassionate. The patient experience is crucial to the success of your practice, as they provide your income. They are also your best source of referrals, so it’s important to build caring relationships with them and listen to their needs and feedback. You can document patient compliments and complaints in PracticeHub as a way to improve your service and provide incentive for your team to keep delivering excellent patient care.
It’s the main reason you started a medical practice, after all.
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.