Features of thriving independent practices by Kingsley Hollis

Published: Tuesday, 23 April 2019 10:00

Kingsley HollisOver the years, I have met consultants who have just moved to independent practice and are nervous about the commercial side of practice ownership.

The good news is that many practices have been able to combine excellent patient care with a strong business focus and it is worth taking note of the traits they have in common.

1. They understand the importance of cash flow
A negative cash flow position means the practice is likely to run short of working capital.

One of the best ways to improve cash flow is to focus on bringing more money in by invoicing promptly. Sending bills electronically is also a sensible move because Healthcode’s clearing system validates invoices as they are submitted to ensure they include all the information required by the individual PMI and are ready for payment. And it is just as important to use Healthcode’s payment tracking feature to ensure that outstanding invoices or shortfalls can be identified and chased up.

2. Teamwork
Whatever the size of your practice, your employees need to be able to communicate effectively with patients, each other and with you.
Informed and responsive frontline staff are key to a positive experience for patients. This starts with basic training and induction, while regular appraisals and staff meetings should help staff feel engaged and able to give their best.

You can also help by using an electronic appointment system which provides a real-time view of appointment slots for a specific day. This should ensure staff are not left in the lurch about your whereabouts and can book appointments without the need for a phone call.

3. Informed decision-making
You can only make smart decisions if you have an accurate picture of how your practice is operating. Happily, the technology exists to get an instant view of how your practice is doing and create more in-depth reports on a whole range of metrics. Healthcode provides a wide range of financial reports in ePractice manager, covering important areas such as debt analysis, activity summaries and payment reconciliation. All can be exported to other software to be anonymised and shared.

4. Meeting patient expectations
We know that private patients value good quality, compassionate care; clinical expertise and minimal waiting times but how do you know whether your practice is hitting the mark?

You can monitor complaints and online reviews, but many more people will leave rather than actually make a complaint. In my experience, practices who actively seek patients’ feedback, through short surveys, suggestion boxes, or the ‘friends and family test’, are best-placed to understand and meet their needs and expectations.

5. Being adaptable
Just as the best doctors are able to adapt to rapid changes in a patient’s condition, the most effective business leaders are open to new information and ready to modify their approach in response to changing circumstances. The right mindset can make the difference between success and stagnation.

It feels like change is in the air for private practice with the growth in self-funded patients and the move to services like online booking. For Healthcode’s part, we want to help practitioners utilise technology so they can streamline their practice processes and ensure they are not left behind.