Hello and welcome to the January edition of our newsletter.
The New Year is an ideal time to take a fresh look at your business operations and make any changes to areas you feel are stagnant or not working as efficiently as they should. In this months newsletter our Managing Director, Jane Braithwaite shares an article originally written for Independent Practitioner Today on ‘How to get off to a good start in 2022’.
With that in mind, we are launching a January competition for all of our existing clients and contacts to help you kick start 2022! Read below to find out more.
Continuing our focus on HR, we look at writing your employer value proposition. Research from Gartner discovered: Organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%”
As we head into 2022 and a promising new year, we have an opportunity to take stock and reset. This includes reviewing our more strategic plans and objectives and checking that the basics are well managed. Jane Braithwaite shows how to give your business a fresh start. From a strategic perspective, I take time to review and plan every quarter. I make the most of the ‘back to school’ feeling in September and at the start of the new year, which is an obvious time to reflect on everything in life including business. April and July are the two other times during the year when I pause to review progress and make plans for the coming quarter.
Over the last two years, with the changing environment caused by the impact of Covid, my strategic planning has become less proactive, and my focus has been on managing the ups and downs caused by the Covid crisis. But performing in ‘crisis’ mode for such a long time is not healthy for us in either our personal lives or for the success of our businesses. So the start of 2022 is a more significant opportunity than it might normally have been for all of us to take stock and set our agenda for the coming year. My strategic planning will involve reviewing my previous plans and assessing what has been successful, what we have achieved and identifying the areas where we made less progress than hoped.
To be honest, due to the challenges of the last two years, there are a few objectives that I set for my business that was purposely parked and I am sure I am not alone. Due to a lack of time to focus on the more proactive side of growing the business and to allow time for the day-to-day management of the effects of Covid some activities needed to be taken off the agenda in the short term.
The start of 2022 will provide a great opportunity to decide whether the time is right to reset those objectives and restart progress. I am also addicted to business plans and notebooks, and I have used most of the widely known business plans/journals.
Currently, my favourite is the Clever Fox Planner Pro, which I highly recommend for anyone like me who enjoys structure and handwriting out plans. Clever Fox allows you to set your strategic plan and then manage it on a day-to-day basis.
The new year is also a good time to check that business basics are being managed well. No business, clinic or practice can succeed and grow if the basics are not well organised.
Most importantly, good processes and systems ensure that the business runs smoothly and that patients, clients and employees are happy.
Conversely, poor processes lead to a drain on management time with time spent addressing issues and firefighting reducing time available for patient care and more strategic activity.
Over the last two years, it is possible that many of us have taken less time to review the basic operations of our businesses and this is a good time to check and act if needed.
In my experience, there are a number of areas that may have been overlooked in private medical practice and I have highlighted some of these below in an attempt to help.
Are you capturing and reviewing feedback from your patients? This is an activity that may have been lost in recent months and it is worth re-establishing good processes; firstly, asking your patients for feedback and regularly reviewing matters with your team.
Over the last few months, patient expectations may have changed and it is important to ensure that your practice delivers against its current requirements to maintain an excellent reputation.
The challenge of surviving the Covid pandemic has affected everyone to a greater or lesser extent and, in private healthcare, employees have been under increased pressure to deal with changes in their working environment.
Now is a good time to assess how your employees are feeling and to ensure that their well-being is being prioritised by you as an employer. An employee survey is a good way to gain feedback in an anonymous way to allow you to get a realistic picture of the challenges your team is facing.
The information gathered can be used by you and your senior team to develop an action plan to address any issues and ensure that your team know their well-being is a top priority for you.
Most businesses review their pricing on an annual basis to ensure they are competitive but also in line with inflation and the cost of running their business.
In private healthcare, the insurance companies restrict the ability to make significant changes, but it is important to review self-pay pricing and also review the costs of delivering the services you offer.
If the insurance rates have remained unchanged but costs of equipment or medical supplies have increased, then it is important to make efforts to try to reduce costs in some way to ensure profitability.
Is your marketing in line with your objectives and how well is it delivering against your objectives? Now would be a good time to re-assess your marketing activities and ensure they are delivering the results you are aiming for.
Are all of your marketing and communication materials consistent in their look and feel?
Is your website working well from a technical perspective and is it compliant in terms of cookie policies and privacy? Are you communicating regularly with your patients and referrers via a newsletter and/or via social media?
Working in private healthcare requires adherence to numerous legal and regulatory regimes including the GMC and the Care Quality Commission. The new year is a good time to check that everything is updated, and you are adhering to the latest requirements.
One good example is the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), which has made some changes and launched a new website recently. All doctors need to ensure they have completed their profile on the new PHIN site.
Invoicing and credit control
In my experience, invoicing and credit control is the most overlooked aspect of running a successful private healthcare practice.
It is not unusual for me to meet a doctor who has recently discovered that invoices have not been sent to patients or their insurance companies. It is even more common to hear that a significant amount of aged debt has accumulated as a result of a non-existent credit control function.
I always suggest a monthly check of invoices raised and of aged debt to make sure your credit control processes are working and if this hasn’t been done for a while, then this is a good process to establish for the new year.
If you need any assistance with your fresh start in 2022, please feel free to get in touch. But, for now, I wish you a Happy New Year.
One of the most obvious steps for consultants looking to start a private practice is to gain practising privileges. Jane Braithwaite uses her insider knowledge to present an essential guide to help bring you success in this setting-up process.
The process of gaining practising privileges is often viewed as time-consuming and bureaucratic, but there is a lot more to think about than simply filling in a set of forms.Most consultants will need to choose which hospital or clinic they wish to work at and making this decision is complex.Having an application accepted is not guaranteed and consultants need to consider what they offer the hospital to ensure their application is successful.
For a consultant, practising privileges are a licence permitting them to work within a hospital, clinic or independently in private practice. The consultant will be able to make use of the facilities and services provided by the hospital.Most consultants will be granted practising privileges within a large organisation operating several locations, but an individual consultant will generally be given access to work from one specific location.
Gaining practising privileges enables a consultant to work in private practice, serving the general public and have the ability to potentially generate a substantial private practice income.For the healthcare service provider, offering practising privileges to a consultant is also an important decision. The granting of practising privileges is a formal and well-structured process requiring an applicant to pass certain checks and to demonstrate suitable indemnity cover.
A healthcare service provider invests enormously in its facilities, and also its reputation, so it needs to be certain it is granting privileges to consultants who will respect its facilities and uphold its reputation. Ultimately, though, the private service provider needs consultants to work successfully from its facilities to generate activity and income. So the relationship between the consultant and the service provider is mutually beneficial.
Choosing where to practise
When deciding where to practice there are several key factors to consider. Location is an obvious factor, as it needs to be convenient for the consultant and ideally close to home and their NHS base, if appropriate.The facilities provided by a service provider and also the reputation of the facilities with patients will be vital. The demographics of the local area may be relevant to some medical specialities and a consultant will need to research whether their ‘target audience’ is well represented in the immediate vicinity.
Less is more
Quite often, when a consultant is starting their private practice, they are tempted to apply for practising privileges with several different service providers.Their thinking is that they will run clinics at various locations initially, determine which location is most successful for them and then focus on that particular clinic.Most consultants starting private practices are already busy with demanding schedules and the requirement to manage clinics at several different locations is time-consuming and onerous, especially in terms of travel, and difficult to manage from an administrative perspective.
This approach often turns out to be a disappointing strategy. The consultant is spread too thinly and the experience of managing numerous clinics at different locations is stressful and ultimately not successful.This slightly scattered approach is also not welcomed by service providers.When a service provider grants privileges to a consultant, it will invest time and resources in assisting the new consultant and marketing its practice to its community of GPs and patients.A service provider will be more highly motivated to do this if they feel a consultant is committed to them, looking for a long-term partnership and demonstrating loyalty.
Research the competition
Decisions may also be affected by colleagues and potential competition at a particular hospital.If there are several very successful consultants in a given speciality at a particular location, it may be hard for a doctor of the same speciality to start a new private practice, unless the existing practices have long waiting lists.When private consultants first take the leap from solely practising with an NHS contract, they can find themselves in unknown territory when it comes to competitors and self-promotion. Never before have they had to look at themselves and their skills as a personal brand that they need to advertise like a business.
They will need to build up a network of contacts as well as consider their online reputation. New consultants would be wise to spend time searching online for their ‘competitors’ to find out the following information to help them plan their own strategy:
How easy are they for patients to find online?
Are their profiles active and up to date?
Do they have their own website?
What is the general sentiment of their online reviews?
Do they use social media and how often do they post online?
Do they use bespoke branding such as logo, brand colours, specific font?
How do they communicate their fees?
How does your own structure compare?
Colleagues not competitors
Though it is important for a new consultant to market their practice and to be aware of competitors in their field and local area, it is also worth them making the effort to network and connect with their peers.In less specialised areas, private consultants may not have the capacity to treat all patients and there may be a need to hand over cases that require rapid treatment or consultations. There could be more than one reason, that a practitioner has decided to consult privately. Perhaps it is financial or simply a needed respite from the bureaucracy of the NHS.
Whatever the reason, your patients, their care and treatment should always be at the heart of what you do. Keeping this in mind, makes it easier to promote, support and stay connected in the work that you do.
Every service provider will define their own procedures, incorporating the Care Quality Commission requirements (see box, right) but potentially involving other checks and potentially including interviews with key individuals within their organisation and approval by an advisory committee.
In the main, service providers are looking for consultants who are safe, reliable and appropriate to practice within their facilities.
They are ideally looking for consultants who are committed to them on a long-term basis, demonstrating loyalty and therefore a good investment for the service provider. My team has experience in all areas of practice management, so whether you are building your clinic from scratch or are consulting at a larger, more established location, we can aid in the areas of accountancy, marketing and medical PA services.
Hello and welcome to the November edition of our newsletter.
In this months newsletter we focus on HR & Recruitment. It’s likely we’ve all experienced a virtual interview at some point in our careers, whether that’s on the side of the hiring manager or the candidate. We have put together an extensive list of top tips to ensure your video call, is the best it can be.
We also go back to basics as we look at writing and posting a job description. It isn’t always as easy as one might think! Our tips will help you produce a great job advert and help you stand out from the crowd.
If you’re interested in learning more about our HR and Recruitment solutions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Hello and welcome to the October edition of our newsletter.
In this months newsletter, we spotlight the events industry. After what has felt like a never-ending hiatus, events calendars seem to be filling up once again. This year people gathered for some of the biggest, global sporting events such as The UEFA European Football Championship as well as the Tokyo Olympics.
Though opinions were divided on such events happening whilst we were still struggling with Covid-19, these in-person gatherings gave the green light for other industries outside of the sporting world, to start planning their own, much smaller events.
We look at the future of medical events, 2022 onwards and discuss buzzwords such as hybrid, virtual and live to see what these mean for organisers going forward.
If you’re planning your marketing and events activities and would like some support, please don’t hesitate to contact us, perhaps we can help you.