building blocks stacked on top of each other

4 things every practice owner should know about effective practice management

The 4 building blocks of effective management

As the owner of a general practice, you’re spinning a lot of plates. You’re the visionary and the strategic leader. You have ultimate responsibility for governance, cultural and clinical leadership. And of course, when all goes well you’re likely the principal beneficiary of success. But how do you make sure your practice runs effectively? We help over 540 doctors manage medical practices all around Australia. So we know a thing or two when it comes to running a successful practice. In this blog series, we break down effective practice management into four things every practice owner should know.

Let’s start with the end in mind – the goals of effective management

Just in case there’s any doubt – let’s clarity what effective practice management looks like.

  • You deliver sustainable and competent clinical services to the community.
  • You have a team of happy and engaged people with you on that journey.
  • You produce highly efficient processes and systems to support clinical outcomes.
  • You create a specific impact on financial outcome with clarity of performance.
  • You inspire confidence in governance of responsibilities with tools to meet these responsibilities.
  • You have a clear strategy for the business and an activated team to manage towards that vision.

These are the minimum we should be aiming for and none of these must be forgotten in the mayhem of the day-to-day. To make all this easier to achieve, we break it down into four simple building blocks.

The 4 building blocks of effective management

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  1. Management Structure & Planning – strategic plan, organisational structure, budget, decision making systems
  2. Performance Measurement – KPIs, reporting, pro-active management
  3. Human Resources – end-to-end employee engagement
  4. Financial Oversight – handling, reconciling and optimising

Document your strategic plan

As a practice owner, do you have a plan and something to work towards? Do you own the responsibility of where the business is going and importantly, share this with your team? A strategic plan gives you, your partners and your team direction about which they can agree and engage in. It lets you know you’re all on the same page with a shared purpose moving towards a shared goal. Documenting your strategic plan might sound like a burden, but can be as simple as writing down, ‘What do I want the practice to look like in a year, 3 years and 5 years’ time?’

Organise your practice

A well-designed organisational structure is a must for an efficient and effective practice. Without one, how does everyone know where their remit begins and ends? As practice owner, it’s up to you to define everyone’s roles in a document that’s accessible to the whole team. Committing to this structure defines lines of responsibility. It locks in relationships and make roles, communication and workflows clear. You’ll all gain a more dynamic view of the organisation and enjoy easier day-to-day functions (resulting in fewer hassles for you!). This document can be created in 10 minutes and shared with a tool like PracticeHub from Avant. Defining roles and responsibilities will straight away create clarity around how you run your business.

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Set a budget

Budget is often considered a dirty word by doctors who don’t like thinking about money. But a business is only a business if it’s making money. (And if it’s not making money then it’s not a business and you don’t own anything, right?) A business that doesn’t know where it’s money is coming from or going to can’t set short or long-term goals. Having a budget enables you to continually track where you are financially. It gets your accountant off your back plus it allows your practice manager to make decisions based on a budget without your input. (Cue a sigh of relief). As a practice owner, you should be at least committing to a budget for this financial year and forecasting for the next. Again, you only need use simple tools like Xero or MYOB to do this, but the result is that you can make calculated decisions and importantly, you’ll have something to measure against.

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Commit to a documented decision making process

Many practices lack a clear process for making decisions but the effectiveness, quality and timeliness of decisions are critical to your business success. A lack of clarity around decision making leads to wasted time and tension and can undermine confidence and trust. Of course, some decisions are more complex or high-stakes than others and require a more thoughtful approach. But even for simple decisions, a process and lines of responsibility (as outlined in your organisational chart) clears the way for timely problem-solving and often, less hassle for you. It can be created simply on paper, it can be part of your documented policies and procedures, and it should be part of your shareholder agreement if you’re co-owned or responsible for an organisation with other people.

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To make sure all goes well and runs effectively in your practice, there are an enormous number of things to manage – things that many practice owners have no training in. However, hopefully we’ve shown that creating clearly defined structures around strategy, budget, responsibilities and decision making isn’t too hard a task and has the enormous upside of meaning less time wasted, more efficiency, and more chance of success.

In Part 2 of this blog series, we’ll look at the second building block essential to effective practice management – Performance Measurement.

If you’d like to chat with one of our helpful consultants about anything we’ve covered in this post or how we can help you get your practice running more effectively, get in touch today by calling 1300 469 866.

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This article is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on its content, and practise proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this article must exercise their own independent skill or judgement or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2024.

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