What’s holding back your practice’s growth?

Associate Professor David Williams, MBBS, PhD, FRACP, GAICD, General Manager, Avant Practice Solutions

Monday, 30 October 2023

What’s holding back your practice’s growth?

Demand for healthcare is growing and this represents a great opportunity for practices. However, growth can put pressure on your resources and systems and, when these don’t perform, the impact can be detrimental to the business.

The first step to avoiding problems is to identify where operational inefficiency may be holding you back.

Doctors don’t get taught how to start or run their own medical practice – it’s a steep learning curve where you rely on others to help. As the doctor-owner of a start-up or growing practice, you’re juggling a lot of balls. So how do you know if growth is being held back, and what should be done to deliver success?

Common challenges that hold practices back

As with assessing patients, it’s the symptoms that provide the first clues and reveal problems related to the underlying cause. Some of the symptoms that your practice is not operating optimally are:

  • You are unclear how your practice manager is running the practice.
  • You don’t have a clear understanding of the practice’s finances.
  • The practice staff are stressed out.
  • You’re too busy to provide leadership to your staff.
  • The team is not operating in a smooth and cohesive way.
  • Revenue is not growing as you would expect.

Opportunities to drive growth

There are a few issues that commonly hold practices back. Assessing and investigating these can help you diagnose the cause of the symptoms outlined above. They include:

  • a lack of capacity or capability in your practice manager
  • poor or inadequate management reporting
  • sub-optimal financial management
  • inefficient use of resources
  • under-developed or disengaged staff
  • poor compliance with procedures and processes
  • disruption as the practice struggles with change.

Key elements for success

As the saying goes, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. Developing and implementing an overall operational business strategy needs to be foundational. This should include a strategic vision for your practice, a system that takes care of your responsibilities as a business owner and employer, tools to provide performance measurements, and human resource management. All are essential to ensuring your practice is operating efficiently, and to minimise risk and maximise business opportunities while maintaining a high standard of patient care.

When all these elements are in place, it is also important to maintain and regularly review processes, plans and procedures to ensure your practice continues to meet its agreed aims and objectives.

The most successful practices draw on a range of expertise as needed. Your lead secretary or practice manager will be central to day-to-day general management. Solicitors, accountants, bookkeepers and practice management consultants can provide the specialist input to help you diagnose and manage potential barriers to success. Making sure you have the right expertise on hand is the key to help you build and grow a resilient and profitable practice.

This article was originally published in Connect  magazine issue 21.


This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practise proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication 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.

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