Setting up a private practice – phase three

Ok, so you have completed the preliminary steps that convince owners the practice will provide high quality healthcare and return a reasonable profit (reward) for effort and risk in running the new business.You’ve probably selected a descriptive, catchy name, maybe ‘I-Sight’, ‘I-See-U’ or something more creative.All administrative and clinical staff have been engaged under relevant ployment contracts. Technical equipment has been installed and telecommunications are in place along with fully functioning facilities for administrative, personal and clinical use.A comprehensive Test Plan was enacted to ensure ployees are familiar with their roles and use of equipment. Various manuals and documents have been created and are conveniently located.The website contains images of the practice, details of services and names of key clinicians. Other forms of marketing (newspaper ads, letter drops, perhaps even an opening day) have been initiated.{{quote-A:R-W:450-Q: The establishment of a sound corporate governance framework is an important initiative to ensure meaningful oversight of the overall practice business }}Finally, the waiting room is well equipped to welcome the most important people of all – patients – and you are itching to provide best-in-class healthcare supported by a well-managed team.Best of all, the telephones are ringing off the hook for appointments!This is the critical point from which all future successes will flow, provided prudent clinical, administrative, practice and business managent ‘foundations’ have been thoughtfully established.While practitioners and support staff inevitably focus mainly on high quality healthcare, as they should, administrative systs often receive less scrutiny as they can be time consuming or complex.Yet the structure and thoroughness of those very systs are the source of all information and knowledge, including details of the practice owners’ values and culture they wish to instil in the business – the cornerstone of an organisation.Examples of ‘foundation’ actions that support efficiently run practices are:Vision, mission and values: While sometimes briefly expressed, they should body the essence of the business, reflecting the values, principles and goals of owners for ployees to adhere to;Organisation chart: Clearly defined roles and responsibilities including reporting lines, to enable ployees to understand the practice’s ‘chain of command’;Staff managent (Human Resources): Detailed job descriptions for every position, provided to each staff mber, including measureable key performance indicators, to support performance assessments and enable ployees to appreciate key aspects of their jobs;Staff appraisals: Consistently executed programs to assess performance and serve as a communication channel to promote staff relations with two-way feedback;Induction programs: Carefully documented for each position, to ensure new ployees are methodically introduced through training materials and job descriptions so they confirm understanding of their roles and expectations of the practiceExit interviews: Questionnaires, seeking feedback from ployees who leave the business, provide feedback on positive or negative aspects of the practice;Rostering: Procedures for larger practices with complex clinician attendance habits that must be supported by front desk staff. Short notice availability to cover unplanned absences is a necessary part of any backup plan;Policy & procedure manuals: These mission critical records, are the ‘practice bible’ and should include instructions on all policies and procedures;Legal: Details of WH&S programs, other medico-legal compliance requirents including ‘case histories’ of incidents that may have occurred during daily operations, whether actual oversights/errors or ‘near misses’, all of which should be included in group meetings, training or ‘work smarter’ planning sessions.Additonally, there are several practice managent operations to undertake:

  • Supplier managent program to ensure supplier relationships and cost effectiveness are optimised and that contracts are renewed on time or new suppliers explored;
  • Regular budget monitoring and various performance targets diarised for review;
  • Complaints registers to record patient issues from lodgent to resolution;
  • Delegation schedules clearly defining authorities assigned to any staff, including dual authorisations where applicable e.g. payroll;
  • Securely store staff records, ideally in the hands of the owner.

A sound practice is based on efficiently documented policies, procedures, reference documents and manuals – the foundation on which high quality ‘front desk’ service competently supports healthcare administered by clinicians.At senior managent level, establishment of a well-documented clinical governance program will ensure cooperation and the dispensing of highest quality, well co-ordinated, and consistent healthcare. For larger practices, the establishment of a sound corporate governance framework is an important initiative to ensure meaningful oversight of the overall practice business.More Reading: 
Part one: Setting up a private practice – phase one
Part two: Setting up a private practice – phase two

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