Having endured some of the largest adjustments in living memory due to Covid-19, many of us have ‘change fatigue’ and yearn for simpler times.
Despite this, most healthcare services appear to have revolutionised the way they operate over the past 10 months: telehealth is mainstream; online bookings are expected; automated patient interactions are routine; and practice staff now work from home.
The challenges of Covid-19 have also forced practice owners to completely reconsider their staffing models with remote work, split teams, social distancing and density rules all impacting rosters.
Opportunites with 20:20 Vision
While the pace of change has been daunting, we see it as a minor cause for celebration as it forces practice owners to challenge their perceptions of what is normal. Some of these changes have been highly beneficial. What many practices have realised is that change has delivered operational improvements through technology, increased flexibility with staffing changes and lower costs through re-energising old admin systems.
Simple answers are now available to “how do I staff my practice with lower patient numbers?”, “how can I sustainable grow my practice without increasing staff?” and “how can I make my business use more technology and cost less to run?”
We believe that reinvigorating of the way things are “done” can reduce the hassle of running and operating medical businesses well. They can potentially also improve bottom line profitability.
Hoxton Medical Practice Management works with hundreds of medical small and medium sized business each week, with the single goal of making things easier for doctors.
Can I make positive (and lasting) changes to help my staff?
During Covid-19 we have had an unprecedented uptake of our Call Overflow Virtual Reception (COVR) service. As practices look to flexibly increase their phone answering and administration capacity, COVR provides an easy, contracted outsourced service that achieve this without engaging new staff. Off-site reception is now a main-stream option, potentially offering protection against administration surges that might leave staff stressed and patients upset at having to leave a message. Acting as an extensions of on-site staff, COVR provides small teams to provide off-site phone answering, booking and clerical support to GP, surgical, physician and psychiatry practices.
A number of practices started using COVR because of difficulty with excessive sick-leave during Covid-19. We have seen some of these practices are now reducing their payroll because their phones are answered the first time, without using message bank, bookings are sorted out immediately and from feedback received, patients and referring doctors are happier. Their businesses are improving. What was seen as an emergency measure for these clients has opened the door for long-term changes that mean practices have access to a potentially more reliable, larger and resilient work force. On-site staff supported by an off-site team.
We consider that one of the principal benefits of outsourcing Call Overflow Virtual Reception is that recruitment and employment hassles are minimised. The off-site team is well drilled and fully capable of supporting the practice and as we emerge out of the big lock-downs they function as a natural part of the broader practice teams.
We’ve all seen that some of the basic assumptions of running a medical business have changed this year. The switch to bulk-billing for telehealth, the increase failure to attend rate and the suspension of elective surgery has, in our opinion, fundamentally altered the business model of every practice in Australia.
Can my practice be better with change?
We have worked with dozens of practices over the past 9 months who have taken these shocks and gone on to ask some bigger questions about their business. “Am I running a good business?”, “Am I making enough money?”, “Have I measured the health of my business as much as I have measured the health of my patients?”, or “ What changes can I make that will help me now and into the future?”
It makes sense to review business operations at times of trouble, and even more sense to plan routine reviews when things are going well. The Hoxton Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS) provides an on-the-ground review of practice operations, finances, HR and culture. We have provided detailed Gap-Analyses to small, medium and large practices who recognise the benefits of keeping check of the health of the business.
A “Gap Analysis” provides valuable insights into how a business is operating. These insights have provided guidance and strategies for practices to deal with the Covid crisis. Perhaps more importantly the longer term view of our consulting engagements provide guidance about improving beyond this period. Improved efficiencies through better use of technology, reducing their risk by better policies and HR documentation, optimising profits through business analysis pricing and cost control are all core goals. We have seen that the meaningful improvements are often made in practices where the owners have recognised that their fantastic practice manager might not have the organisational training, MBA qualifications or technology experience of our Practice Management Advisory Service consulting team.
We believe the idea of reviewing how a medical business operates is so important in the Covid and post-Covid periods, as Australia moves into a phase of potential economic contraction. One that we anticipate will see healthcare spending reduce. With good management and proper planning, this challenge has the potential to produce long term benefits for business who are forced to survive by becoming more efficient, compliant and technology adopters. Routinely an investment in business analysis and review with Hoxton PMAS produces at least four times the return in terms of increased revenue, reduced costs and lowered risk.
We cannot avoid change in 2020 and beyond. We believe that accepting change and using it to bring about improvements that reduce the hassle of running a medical business should be every business owner’s goal.
Do you want to make improvements?
There are many options for reaping the benefits of reduced cost and increased profits. Contact Hoxton MPM to find out more about outsourced secretarial services like COVR and a health-check for medical businesses like Hoxton PMAS Gap-Analysis. We offer the option of supported, incremental changes that can improve medical practices now and for the long-term.