Ensure your callers can always get through

Ensure your callers can always get through

Jane Braithwaite’s contribution to the Independent Practitioner Today this month is all about the importance of answering calls to your private practice.

NOW THIS is a thorny subject for patients, medical secretaries and consultants alike. Here’s two common scenarios: ‘The patient says she couldn’t get through’. ‘She was a new patient. That’s like gold dust. We need to answer every call’. ‘I just received a complaint from a GP who couldn’t get through to refer a patient’.

How do we answer every call? Is that even possible? How many calls are being answered at your practice today? 50%? 90%? Can you measure this?

Call Answering

TOP TIPS TO AVOID MISSING A CALL

  • Own your phone number. Ensure you have a number for life
  • Measure it to manage it – Monthly reviews of our performance will ensure we continue to focus on this key element of practice management
  • Call audit – Address the reasons why patients are calling and look at ways to reduce the calls that are less productive
  • Technology solutions – Investigate the ways in which your phone system can support the process
  • Voicemail – Ensure messages are returned promptly
  • Appointment reminders – Ensure we include the address and details of how to find us. Ask patients to email to confirm not call
  • Online booking should be embraced by all
  • Call-answering bureaux/call centres – Can be used as a back-up option
  • Patient calls are vital and high priority. It is important to have a culture that treats them as such
  • I will leave you with the famous words of Blondie: ‘Don’t leave me hanging on the telephone.’

Read full article from the Independent Practitioner Today ‘Ensure callers can always get through’

Patient Reviews: they really do count

Patient Reviews: they really do count

Jane Braithwaite regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today and her latest article talks about the importance of patient reviews and the impact they can have on the success of your private practice.

Patient Reviews

Most practices will be receiving patient feedback on a regular basis.  This can range from the quiet chat with the receptionist or medical secretary, to the hand-delivered box of chocolates or the hopefully infrequent irate phone call or email.  But how are you collecting these reviews, measuring your patients’ satisfaction and dealing with complaints?

Top Tips

  1. establish an open team culture encouraging all feedback to be shared
  2. encourage patients to share their reviews on your Facebook page, google and other social media accounts
  3. send patients links to relevant medical websites where reviews are encouraged
  4. share great reviews on your website (having asked the patient’s permission)
  5. set up a monthly or quarterly programme of feedback requests from patients
  6. decide on the best way to collect ad hoc patient feedback from team members
  7. put in place a detailed complaints process
  8. communicate your complaints process openly with your patients
  9. respond to complaints and online negative reviews promptly and professionally
  10. collate all your feedback regularly from all sources, to inform your improvement plan

 

Read the full article  ‘Their views really do count’

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How to ensure you get paid

How to ensure you get paid

chasing-money-large

 

TopTips2Invoicing and credit control is a time-consuming task in private practice, but it is essential for obvious reasons. Yet it is the area of practice management that is most often overlooked. Jane Braithwaite reports.

Many doctors and medical secretaries are highly focused on patient care, as they should be of course, and therefore billing and collecting the money becomes the lowest priority.

It is not natural for a doctor to switch conversation with a patient from their symptoms and care plan to payment.

Likewise, a medical secretary has often chosen to work in the field of healthcare due to a desire to care for patients and is less comfortable handling the billing side.

Private consultants can sometimes struggle with the contrast between private practice and working for the NHS. It can be difficult to feel comfortable charging for your medical services after years of NHS work, which is ‘free’ to patients.

Robust credit control

But managing payments and debts is crucial for any business and you will not thrive or grow as a private consultant without a robust credit control strategy from the outset.

In a bigger clinic or hospital, there is often a department that handles invoicing and billing. This team will often be more aligned with the finance team and this makes total sense. But in a smaller practice, billing must be handled by the secretarial team.

It is well reported in the business world that cash flow is king, especially in the first years of a new business. This is just as true for a consultant working in the private world as it is for a clinic or hospital.

Delays in receiving payment can put a great deal of strain on cash flow in a private medical practice and we need to ensure this is avoided.

Using good systems will help alleviate and automate much of the process relating to invoicing and collection. It is also key to define good processes and ensure the system is set up to support these processes.

Most private clinics will be invoicing both insurance companies and self-pay patients. They may also be invoicing embassies and legal companies.

You may already have a practice management software system in place, which could also handle billings, reminders and management accounts.

This could also make it much easier to comply with increasing requests from insurers to send billing information electronically using electronic data interchange.

Submitting invoices electronically will also speed up payment settlement, which should greatly help with credit control.

Electronic billing

chasing-moneyThe use of technology is imperative, particularly for invoicing insurance companies.

A good practice management system will link to Healthcode and allow electronic billing. All private doctors should be using this technology, as it ensures that insurance invoices are dealt with very quickly and smoothly.

A good practice management system will also ensure that invoicing self-pay patients is simple and easy.

Invoice templates can be created with pick lists of the most commonly used items. Invoices can be sent to patients via email or by post, if preferred, but I would use email as widely as possible to reduce costs and eliminate delays.

Insurance shortfalls

Shortfalls from insurance payments will need to be dealt with in the same way as self-pay patients. It seems that many aged debts are due to lack of transparency over insurance shortfalls.

Patients simply are not aware that their insurance will not cover the entire cost of the consultation, treatment or procedure. This could be remedied by improving communications with patients.

It might mean incorporating a short discussion about payment in the consultation itself, reworking the written information given to patients afterwards or even following up appointments with a short email to clarify information.

If you are sending invoices to embassies and law firms for medico-legal work, these will be created in the same way as for self-pay patients, but a greater focus on chasing for payment will be needed, as these invoices often take much longer to be paid.

My advice would be to attempt to build relationships with key contacts within the organisation to smooth the way.

Reconciliation

The next step in the invoicing process is to reconcile payments received against the invoices issued. If you are using electronic billing for insurance patients, this process will be easier for you.

Insurance companies will regularly send you remittance advice notes that need to be checked against the invoices on the system.

If self-pay patients are paying by credit card, the payments should be marked as paid on the day payment is made. There is nothing worse than chasing a patient for payment when they have already paid.

chasing-moneyBankers’ Automated Clearing Services (BACS) payments will need to be reconciled with bank statements and that is a harder task than it sounds.

Encourage patients to quote their invoice number when making a payment to ease the process.

Payments should be reconciled regularly so that you have an accurate picture of your current debt. I would suggest that a reconciliation is done at least weekly.

At the end of each month, a report of current debt should be produced and reviewed by key members of the team to identify and address issues early and therefore avoid that debt growing into a mountain of unpaid dues.

Credit control process

Each practice needs to define their credit control process. An invoice sent to an insurance company or self-pay patient may be paid promptly, but quite often this is not the case and the debt will need to be chased.

There will always be patients who do not pay on time and standard protocols to collect payment owed will need to be followed.

A robust monitoring system must be in place so that you can keep track of reminders sent. This can be managed within your practice management system.

A good practice management system will allow you to set up a process for chasing debt, but you will need to define the parameters. You can set up standard template letters to be sent after certain periods of time.

The time allowed may differ depending on your practice. You may feel that patients should be allowed a month to pay before receiving their first reminder.

This might be the case in a practice where you are seeing the patients regularly and have every confidence that they will pay at their next appointment. In another practice, you may want the reminder to be sent seven days after the initial invoice.

Reminder letters

You can set up a series of reminder letters to be sent by email to patients chasing their payment.

These letter templates must be created and while the first might be a very gentle reminder, the third reminder needs to be a little sterner.

Eventually, someone will need to pick up the phone to chase payment and that is not a task liked by most. If a patient is ignoring your letters, then a phone call may be just what is needed to prompt payment.

Again, you need to decide at what stage this occurs. Do you wait one month or three months before taking such a step? What feels right in your practice?

Debt collection

chasing-moneyThankfully, most patients do pay what is owed, but there will be a small percentage who ignore emails, letters and phone calls.

You need to be clear on how you will handle this. Are you happy to accept a certain percentage of non-payment and simply write this off? Or do you want to take this further and involve a debt collection agency. Obviously, this is a last resort, but one you will need to consider.

Whether you are running a large hospital or a small clinic, you have a choice whether to handle invoicing and credit management in-house or to outsource.

In-house billing and collection

Many consultants choose to handle credit control themselves when they first start out in private practice, in partnership with their medical secretary. This can be a workable solution while the practice builds, and needs to be scal­able once the practice becomes busier.

You may need to employ additional members of staff to manage the workload. You may employ a medical secretary and a billing specialist who are able to work closely together but have defined roles. As always, effective and clear procedures need to be in place from the very start.

It is imperative that administrative and financial processes are reviewed regularly and documented to avoid key person dependency. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where someone is sick and no one else knows how the systems and processes work.

There are a number of accountants who specialise in the private medical sector who could help with reviewing and recording your clinic procedures. And while this may seem expensive, it may turn out out to be a cost which repays the investment many times over.

Consultants and their secretaries often find chasing debts to be an uncomfortable task and not one that fits easily with the medical ethos.

You will need to ensure that you and your team stay informed about technological advances so that you and your patients can benefit from them.

On the positive side, handling invoicing in-house means that you have complete control and can feel comfortable that every communication with your patients is made by a member of your team.

Outsourcing invoicing

chasing-moneyMany consultants move their entire invoicing work to an external company, which will send invoices, liaise with insurers and chase payments.

Most of these companies charge a percentage fee for the invoices they process and collect on behalf of your practice.

They can also chase aged debts and provide a variety of management reports such as insurance breakdowns and bank reconciliation information.

Some firms have their own custom software for this, while others integrate with industry-standard practice management software.

The primary advantage to outsourcing billing and collection is that consultants can spend more time concentrating on developing the medical side of the business.

The downside is the additional cost, although this should be weighed against the potential savings outsourcing may provide. Consultants should also consider whether relationships with patients could be negatively impacted by moving invoicing to an external company. As always, communicating regularly with patients may help offset any problems.

Following the tips provided in this article may hopefully mean fewer debts are left to chase.

 

Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.

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How does your practice grow?

How does your practice grow?

top-tips-jigsaw

 

TopTips2Jane Braithwaite’s latest article in her series about managing your private practice puts the spotlight on the broad area of business development.

 

We often see or hear the term ‘business development’, but it is little understood and often it is confused with sales.

Well, I see business development as all the activities that lead to developing your practice or clinic in terms of growth and expansion.

Anyone who has their own private practice or medical company will understand that the healthcare landscape changes all the time.

To grow and develop, we need to change with it. One of the key reasons for business decline is a failure to spot change and exploit the new opportunities that change offers.

Business development is broadly considering what we need to do to ensure we have insight into upcoming markets, services and/or technology that could make an impact on our current businesses.

This month, I am going to explore the various options that are open to all of us and I hope one or more of these ideas resonate with you.

Developing and growing your practice or clinic further might mean offering additional services to your existing patients or looking at new channels to appeal to a new set of patients for your existing services. It might be a mixture of both. In either case, there are numerous options.

Expensive overhead

top-tips-jigsaw-smallPerhaps there is a complementary aspect of healthcare that your existing patients would appreciate. You could enable this by inviting another practitioner to make use of your facilities.

Physical consulting space is an expensive overhead and it is always wise to consider how you can make better use of the space you have in a way that might complement your practice. Do some market research or competitor research to find out what your options might be.

You may feel there is an opportunity to grow by servicing a wider geography. Could you add another clinic at a hospital in a different location, if your schedule allows?

It might also be worthwhile considering different age groups and identifying the differing needs of each group. Consider the age range of your current population.

If the patients at your clinic tend to be 40-plus, do you need to review your marketing activities to attract potential patients below the age of 40?

A good understanding of the different requirements of differing age groups will assist you when it comes to marketing your services at a broader age group. Perhaps the message to younger patients is about preventive healthcare rather than specific treatment plans.

New offerings

Technology now offers us different ways to communicate with patients and this may enable new service offerings such as telephone, email or skype consultations.

Embracing these technologies may allow you to offer more frequent support to your current patients and allow you to reach patients who are unable to see you in person. There are several very successful companies offering only ‘virtual’ consultations.

There may well be a greater opportunity for doctors who are able to offer both face-to-face and virtual services in a complementary manner.

Regardless of how you decide you should develop and grow your practice, there are numerous ways in which you can ensure you meet your objectives.

Networking wins

top-tips-jigsaw-smallOne of the main ways to identify and research new opportunities for business development, and to progress them, is to invest time in networking.

It’s a core part of business development, as leveraging relationships is critical to success. How do you maintain relationships with patients, staff, suppliers, organisations, the local community, hospitals and other doctors?

Traditional networking is about communicating in person with patients, colleagues, suppliers and peers. There are numerous events that provide such opportunities and often provide valuable opportunities for education and reflection.

Do you arrange regular events at your practice and invite your own contacts to attend? This requires a real investment in time and effort, but can provide valuable opportunities for referrers, patients and prospective patients to get to know you.

You will also get some valuable feedback this way – people are far more forthcoming in person than on a feedback form.

Networking these days also includes your online network. Your practice may have several different social media channels that allow you to communicate with a wider audience. The most personal networking tool is probably LinkedIn.

It’s a valuable tool, especially for keeping in contact with your peer group. Most people check LinkedIn at least once each week to accept connection requests and check on messages, but you could maximise its power by contributing to conversations daily so that your name comes to mind at the right time.

Presenting at conferences and events only suits certain individuals, but if this type of activity appeals to you, it is a powerful way to reach a far wider group of people. If presenting is not especially attractive to you, then perhaps publishing articles is more realistic and enjoyable.

Powerful communication

top-tips-jigsaw-smallVideo is a very powerful way of communicating with your audience. Like presenting, you will either love it or hate it, but it is a very wise investment. Ideally, you would create regular videos, upload them on You Tube and link to your website. This is an area that is going to grow and grow in popularity.

Healthcare marketing is rapidly becoming more focused on digital, but still relies significantly on print advertising. Whether you’re handling your own marketing or outsourcing it, you must be clear on what your audience and goals are before starting.

Without an awareness of whom you want to reach and what you want to achieve, any money spent is wasted.

You also need to bear in mind the guidelines issued by the GMC and the BMA around ethics and confidentiality when it comes to marketing your services.

Below, I have highlighted some important marketing areas to keep in mind, but it’s important to get a full assessment of your marketing needs, as every business is different.

Business website

I suspect that anyone reading this has a website of some description, but is it doing a good job for you? Is your website helping you to reach your desired audience? Once potential patients visit your website, do they follow through to book an appointment?

A website should not be a static tool but should evolve and change over time to better suit your purpose. For a start, any website which isn’t enhanced for mobiles is not going to appeal to users – you may lose them before they have got past the homepage.

Does your website allow users to book an appointment online? If competitors have this option, so should you.

What capability do you have to record testimonials from your site or include reviews from other sites such as Trustpilot, Facebook or Doctify?

Patient reviews are key to build your reputation, and therefore your business.

Finally, a key way for new patients to find your website is a Google search, but this relies on your site being optimised for search engines (SEO).

Many people think that SEO is a one-off activity, but it’s best to review every six months to make sure that your brand is still appearing near the top. This is where it does pay to hire an SEO expert, as it’s a science which relies on many factors and changes often.

Business blogs

One of the main factors which affects SEO is ‘freshness’ of content – a website which never changes will not score highly and won’t appear on the first page of results. This is one of the reasons why so many businesses embrace regular blogs.

Blogs, if marketed properly and consistently, can attract new patients. But this is if they’re written to add value for the reader, rather than simply advertise the business.

One of the most successful blogs written for my business, Design­ated Medical, was about the EU’s General Data Protection Regul­ation. It contained helpful information for our audience and brought new visitors to our website. It wasn’t about the services we offer or salesy in any way. Writing content which is valuable for your audience is key for blogs.

Are you using GMB?

Don’t forget about Google My Business, which is an excellent – and free – way to boost your business online. GMB is basically your business profile on Google, where you can add your opening hours, photos and short posts.

It’s also where you can respond to Google Reviews. It’s quick work to set up your GMB profile, but well worth it to control your image on the biggest search engine.

Social media

Social media marketing is a very cost-effective marketing method, and for most private doctors it can be a very successful way to grow networks and attract patients.

As before, knowing your audience and goals is essential to make social media work for you. If you’re looking to establish more business connections or thinking of branching out to other markets, LinkedIn will be a key platform for you.

Twitter also works very well in terms of business relationships, as it’s more conversational and ties in well with events. Facebook is ubiquitous for businesses but using its low-cost, super-targeted advertising is the key to success.

You can also get impressive reach via free Facebook events listings. Finally, Instagram can work very well for beauty and aesthetics clinics, with image-driven high engagement.

 

Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.

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Is your private practice ‘all systems go’?

Is your private practice ‘all systems go’?

 

TopTips2There are so many facets to running a successful private medical practice. Jane Braithwaite’s second article in her practice management series focuses on the functional aspects. She looks at what IT systems you might need to run your practice efficiently and examines mapping the processes that you must streamline for a well-run practice.

As with any business, you will need to give detailed consideration to your IT needs. The difference for a private medical practice is the kind of data you will be storing.

Old computer on a wooden table

You don’t just need to think about the number of PCs you might need as well as printers and other peripherals. Medical records, patient notes, scans, bank details and even recorded phone calls are all considered personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Even before GDPR was introduced, there were specific requirements for data storage in healthcare. There have previously been some worrying data breaches by companies who stored patient data unencrypted, and GDPR has added punitive fines to ensure that all companies take the issue seriously.

The NHS’s guidelines on using public cloud services such as Google Drive and my previous article on data should be helpful resources.

Outsourcing storage

You might be wondering if it would be easier to outsource data storage, and this is certainly an option. There are many companies offering systems that can assist with this as well as with financial management, appointment scheduling and more.

These systems can also provide remote access to practice information and may integrate with your other software. Healthcare is big business and there are dozens of companies offering solutions.

One main difference between off-the-shelf solutions and bespoke systems will obviously be price. But you must be careful to look beyond the price tag to the implications for your practice long-term.

Many consultants start out thinking they can manage everything themselves with the help of their medical secretary. Some will achieve this, but you need to consider what happens when your practice grows.

The amount of data will grow too, but you might find that your set-up does not scale without significant time and investment. Hopefully, you’ve also taken my previous advice on executive information and anticipated this, so necessary changes can be made without disruption to your patients.

Process mapping

Without making this article seem like Business 101, have you thought through all of the processes that will enable your practice to run optimally?

I’m a big fan of simple solutions, where possible, and an even bigger fan of a paperless office. But these both rely on well thought-out solutions to everyday challenges.

Process mapping means defining your business activities, partly to understand who takes ownership at each stage. This means that you won’t miss important details that could impact on patient satisfaction or business efficiency.

Process maps are visual, as you might expect, and there are plenty of specialist software packages you could use, some of them free. But if you’re looking at processes within a team, starting with A3 sheets of paper is a great way to capture information.

As an example, let’s look at the journey for your patients. Do they come to you via referral by other consultants or directly from your website? How are follow-up appointments confirmed?

Who is responsible for communicating test results and within what time-scales? Try to map every part of their journey from the first contact they have with the clinic to a successful outcome – whatever this might mean for your specialty. You may find the NHS process mapping model helpful for this.

The patient journey is the most important process for your practice, but it’s by no means the only one. What are your processes for finding a new supplier, recruiting a member of staff or carrying out appraisals?

You must ensure the processes you’ve identified and mapped pinpoint who is responsible for each activity and which systems are involved. There must be no confusion over who arranges for feedback forms to be sent out or when patients are advised of the cost of a consultation.

My motto is ‘mind the gaps’, because I believe that taking care of the details is what ensures a well-run practice. But to take care of the details, you must be very clear on what they are.

Top Tips

Systems update: Just because you’ve had the same system since you started doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you now. Be open to demos from alternative suppliers and keep abreast of new developments

Why paperless works: As well as being environmentally friendly, more secure and cost-effective, it will mean that your important documents will always be to hand. And, longer term, you will not have the costly problem of storing copious amounts of paper securely

Spend to save: There are companies who can advise you on choosing practice management systems or the pros and cons of outsourcing. It’s worth considering what they can do for you

Use the right tool: Specialist software mapping tools such as Microsoft Visio or Lucidchart could work well for you once you’ve captured all the relevant data

Review regularly: If you’ve been in private practice for some time, chances are that processes can become bloated as tasks and documents are added. Take time to review and see how you can streamline

Ergonomics matter: Processes aren’t always digital. Is it as simple as re-organising the office layout or how forms are stored?

Get value for money: Many businesses only use a fraction of software features – could a little extra training mean you get full use out of the systems you shell out for?

Resident expert: Is there someone on your team with secret streamlining skills or a hitherto hidden passion for processes and IT? Take advantage of their enthusiasm

 

Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.

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You don’t need a diploma to run a practice

You don’t need a diploma to run a practice

Diploma or Certificate Premium Design Template in Raster

 

Managing your own practice is a huge challenge, with so many variables to control. In a new series of practice management articles for Independent Practitioner Today, Jane Braithwaite covers all the aspects that you need to master to have a perfectly-run practice.

 

Do you have an MBA? Perhaps a Diploma in Business Management? If not, you’re in the same boat as the vast majority of doctors who decide to start their own private medical practice, which is, in fact, a complex business like any other.
But don’t worry. In this series, I will be looking at managing complaints, business development, systems and processes and more.
These are all important aspects of practice management, but the two areas you absolutely must get right at the very start are: planning and people.
So here is what you should start doing:

Strategic planning

Being clear on goals and ambitions for your practice will help you achieve them. Allowing regular time in the calendar to step back and look at the bigger picture will keep your business on the right track.

There are four steps to successful strategic planning:

  1. Manage performance;
  2. Determine your position;
  3. Develop a strategy;
  4. Build your plan.

1. Manage performance

Taking this approach means you won’t miss any gaps. Ideally, garner input from anyone who contributes to the success of the practice and ensure that all your stake-holders are aware of your plan.

2. Determine your position

Like any other business, the leader of a medical practice needs business intelligence to survive. As the one in charge, it’s critical that you have access to executive information which shows analytics, forecasting tools and reports.

I’ve written about this previously in this journal with some suggestions on how to create a dashboard which shows the ‘big view’ of your business. I would strongly suggest you allocate time to setting this up so that you will easily be able to access trends.

For example, you should be able to see at a glance the split between self-pay patients and those with insurance over the last six months and how it compares to the previous six months.

You should also look at what changes are coming in business or medicine. If your practice is dep­endent on international patients, is there a downwards drift for certain countries?

The more insight into strategic issues you can gather, the better your planning will be. Combine all the data you’ve pulled together and document it.

There are many business planning methods and tools that you can use, and each has its pros and cons. The format is that important; the key is to have a short statement that you can refer to and change over time.

3. Develop a strategy

Diploma or Certificate Premium Design Template in Raster

This is something you probably did when you first set up your practice, but you need to keep repeating the process to ensure your practice continues to grow in the direction you want it to grow.

We are often asked to have a five-year plan, and while it is difficult to have clearly defined goals for five years, it is possible and valuable to have goals and objectives for the coming two years.

When thinking about the longer term, a business mentor advised me to think of ‘the view from the beach’. Imagine yourself in five years’ time relaxing on the beach and envisage what you would like to have achieved by that point.

How will your practice look? How will the finances look? This becomes your longer-term goals and allows you to focus very clearly on the next two years and what you need to do now to ensure your reach ‘that view from the beach’.

You may already have a long-term plan, but when did you last review it? Does it need amending?

Can you distill your practice ambitions into four to six long-term objectives? Is your financial forecast still accurate? Try to add as much clarity as possible so your goals and priorities are accurate.

4. Build your plan

This is the nitty-gritty – an operational plan that ensures your practice achieves what you want it to. It’s important that you work with your team to come up with achievable goals and that they have an opportunity to feedback on plans.

Depending on the size of your practice, you might choose to allocate goals to specific areas; for example, the administration team answers 85% of calls each week. What does success mean? An increase in patients or a decrease in patient complaints?

No matter the goal(s), make it as easy as possible to measure progress and keep on track by defining what success looks like and sharing it with the team.

Manage performance

It’s essential to communicate your plans, objectives, decisions, and results to everyone working for the practice.

Not only will the team feel pride in being a part of the practice, they will feel as though they are working towards something meaningful. That’s an incredibly motivating factor.

Managing staff

The principles of managing a happy and productive team apply whether they number five or 50. Employees value an open and supportive culture with clear line management.

A Harvard Business Review article I read recently had some interesting things to say about what makes people happy at work. As a leader of a team of over 50, I have found much of this to be true.

Let people be themselves

Getting the best out of individuals means valuing them for their skills and embracing differences in perspective, dress and habits. This allows for diversity and shows another side to the much-vaunted flexible working which is so prevalent in business today.

I have found that the more flexible I am with my employees, the more commitment I have from them. Does one of your team harbour a secret talent with Excel? Can your medical secretary turn her hand to graphic design?

Snap up the opportunity to expand the practice knowledge-base at the same time as helping develop your employees’ careers.

Show how the work makes sense

This is when business intelligence and good systems can combine to energise your team. Patients are at the heart of any practice and sharing positive outcomes helps everyone in your team see that their efforts make a difference.

Not only will they feel pride in working for your practice, they will feel that their work is meaningful. Find a simple way to share patient reviews and feedback with everyone who helped make it happen.

Achieving (near) perfection in practice management takes an enormous amount of hard work. But all that hard work must be directed towards the right goals, or it’s pointless. With proper planning and dedicated staff, you will ensure that there are no gaps – just triumphs.

 

Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.

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