Our Managing Director, Jane Braithwaite, has contributed to two articles this month for the Independent Practitioner Today. The first article focuses on 10 top tips to help plan for the future and life after lockdown.
I believe it is now time for doctors working in private practice and owners of private healthcare businesses to be more positive.
The future of private practice promises to be positive and will bounce back much more quickly than other business sectors. Compared to the hospitality sec- tor, for example, we are in a relatively good position.
As we all know, the situation for our patients currently is not good. We have patients awaiting treatment, both on the NHS and privately, and as each day of the current crisis passes, the waiting lists get longer.
Patients are ignoring symptoms and, as I write, avoiding seeing their GP or consultant until the lockdown is lifted and this may well lead to longer-term problems.
Anyone involved in healthcare wants to avoid this happening and there has been a growing demand to open hospitals and clinics so we can start to address this.
Once this happens, we will enter an incredibly busy period as we treat patients as quickly as possible to avoid them waiting any longer than is necessary.
Private practice income has dropped to negligible levels in the last two months and, from a business perspective, this is devastating for many.
But things will get better quickly once private hospitals reopen and the lockdown is lifted. Private practice will see a rapid increase in activity levels.
So, what do we need to do right now to protect our private practices?
Here are my top tips for what to do now to ensure long term success:
The fight against coronavirus has seen the NHS partner with the private sector as a way to provide more beds and medical resource in preparation for patients. Many consultants who operate for both the NHS and run their own medical practice are faced with the pressure of adapting their workflow to mitigate the threat.
How do you adapt your practice in a crisis? What should consultants do in a rapidly changing landscape?
Involves remote communication between patients and clinicians, or between clinicians and specialists. Have you implemented a e-Consultation service to help support practice continuity and patient care? e-Consultation is an essential tool to help contain the spread of COVID -19. If you have not yet made the move, Top Doctors is offering this free of charge to medical specialists, even if they are not already a member of the platform. Adapt your practice to overcome the obstacle of not being able to have face to face consultations.
Over communicate to patients.
It’s in times like these that patients look out to those they trust and rely with their health for guidance and support. As a practice you will have many ways to communicate with patients; emails, SMS, online chat, Social Media, Newsletters, patient portals, websites etc. Use these tools along with a basic yet focused communication plan to nurture and reassure your patients. The experience you provide your patients today will help future-proof loyalty and advocacy.
Outsource your call handling service.
If you are faced with a surge in incoming calls from panic-stricken patients a short-term interim call handling service can provide patients with guidance, support and appointment rescheduling. A calm, reassuring approach will support patient wellbeing and practice trust.
Proactively collaborate with your network.
Suppliers are key to ensuring your practice operation remains intact. If you rely on an online prescription service & delivery, make sure you contact your suppliers to understand of any changes to their operating model, this information will also help further reassure your patients. A powerful peer to peer network is also important at this time. By simply sharing ideas, tools, resource via a simple WhatsApp chat will be hugely beneficial to your own wellbeing and that of your practice.
Keep people working.
Even if you your practice isn’t seeing patients there are plenty of opportunities to schedule essential work your team can handle from home. If your current infrastructure doesn’t support home-working you may choose to outsource essential tasks and adapt your practice accordingly. These could include billing to support cashflow, debt management, practice financial analysis and forecast, marketing communication, website management and creation, database cleansing including checking health plan directories have correct information about your practice.
Take care of yourself.
There is no doubt that the coming months will be strenuous for us all, please remember to take care of yourself and avoid burnout.
If you are faced with sudden changes to your practice, Designated Medical are 100% virtual meaning we are geared and experienced in remote and flexible working. We are happy to step in and support at short notice or advise on how best to implement a virtual office.
Our extended Designated virtual teams can help with:
Answering your calls and dealing with patient queries
Scheduling online meetings
Handling & chasing payments
Marketing & Communication
Social Media Management
Website Creation & Management
Webinar set up as an alternative to your cancelled events