Money Matters Practice Management Innovations in practice management
Innovations in practice management
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Much of the time, practice managers and staff barely have time to breathe let alone implement initiatives to expand the practice and make life a little bit easier for patients and staff. Medical Forum, with the aid of the Australian Association of Practice Managers, quizzed practice managers and came up with a list of some of the things (time, cost, and technology permitting) that could transform your practice.


1 Technophobes, switch on!

Surveys say up to 40% of practices in WA are not computerised. However, think of the benefits computers and the internet could bring! Software such as Dragon can turn your dictation into text on a screen, and voila! - you can dictate letters without paying for a clerical assistant. The staff wages saved could be well spent elsewhere.

Computers can lead to electronic filing and eventually a paperless office - saving you money, storage space, and helping the environment. Having a computerised practice also assures your younger patients ("the digital generation") that you are not behind the times, with all the confidence-sapping implications that can lead to.


2 Interactive practice website

Yvonne Robinson, GP Down South's Deputy CEO, came up with the brilliant idea of having an interactive website that will allow your patients to book their appointments online. You can now book hotels and flights online, so why not allow your patients the same ease of access? You get to set the available times and you can add options where patients could potentially add notes on why they are seeing you. Even if you have one of your practice staff call these patients to confirm their appointments, you are still saving plenty of staff hours from all the phone calls your receptionists don't have to answer from patients looking to book appointments.


3 Work/life balance

practicemanagerclipboard.jpgYou work hard, your practice manager and staff work hard, and with families to juggle and the greater leisure expectations of Generation Y workers, getting the "life" in work/life balance can be tricky.

Tracy Heywood, Practice Manager of Academy Facial Plastics and Laser Specialist, has her finger on the pulse. "I developed a comprehensive work/life balance program that revolutionised the motivation of our staff. Happy staff are productive staff and they don't leave to go to your competitor," she said.

The first step to finding the right balance is gauging your staff's needs and writing up a roster. In these days of job-sharing and casual employment, the main barrier to giving your staff their "life" balance is having to overcome preconceptions on what constitutes a "good" team member. Gone are the days where your best performers work 80 hours/week (and later burn out!). These days, quality is king and quantity is secondary.


4 Communicating with patients

Patients today expect you and your staff to be switched on to more than just their health needs. Everything these days is "holistic" and a "synergy" of services. The best way to make your patients feel valued (aside from curing their chronic diseases, of course!) is to communicate with them and make them feel part of the process.

Do you have a practice website that offers information about you and your services? What about a practice newsletter with your practice's contact details and health-related articles targeted at your patients' level of knowledge? You and your staff can create one (which could be a fun team-building exercise) - or if you don't have the time, you can buy professional, customisable practice newsletters like Health News ( Feel free to explore other technologies when reaching out to patients, such as email or SMS text message reminders of appointments.


5 Practice project managers

Nothing makes staff feel more valued (aside from a juicy pay rise!) than being acknowledged as an expert in their fields of endeavour. Allocate one or more of your senior staff as "Practice project managers" and put them in charge of necessary tasks like overseeing Accreditation, PIP and SIP Item Numbers, the provision of staff development/workshops, records management, patient appointments, etc. With each staff member focussed as an "expert" in various practice tasks, your team will positively hum with harmonious vibes.