Why practice management needs a systematic approach
Ever wondered how some medical practices handle staff handovers, business growth and big changes in management with relative ease? According to digital health, practice management and medical software expert, Katrina Otto, it all comes down to having the right systems and processes.
“Without systems, there’s chaos,” Katrina says. “That’s why a systematic approach is essential to good practice management and preventative health care. This is further evident in the RACGP standards, which outlines in detail the importance of a systematic approach to enable better patient care.”
The key pillars of systematic practice management
According to Katrina, there are a number of key systematic ‘pillars’ every practice manager needs to oversee, including:
- Booking system
- Patient management system
- Recall and reminder system
- Document management
- Patient registration system
- Pathology management system.
- Invoice management system
This task is incredibly involved, Katrina notes, as each of these overarching pillars have various elements and sub-elements to consider and oversee.
“For instance, with effective document management, there needs to be a systematic approach to secure messaging, scanning and labeling of documents,” she explains. “But it’s important to remember that all of the above pillars should be seen and treated as systems.”
Minimising risk, maximising efficiency
Practice managers should be overseeing all these wider systems to ensure efficiency & safety, but also because they are the data governance champions, Katrina says.
“This means they also have the wider responsibility to regularly review, revise, update and re-design those systems to make sure there are no holes or inefficiencies, in order to minimise risk and maximise bookings,” she adds.
Scalable systems that are staff-friendly
While a systematic approach involves a high level of responsibility and management, Katrina says the hard work pays off for the practice both in the short-term and in the long-run.
“Not only will the practice be more agile, lean and efficient, but the systems and processes will be easier for staff management, training and handovers,” she says. “And what is really fundamental to the success of a practice is when you have new staff starting, and you can easily train them and get them up and running quickly – with a clearly defined and transparent systematic approach.”
Visually represent your systems
In order to communicate, train and reinforce systems effectively, Katrina recommends adding easy-to-understand flowcharts and diagrams which can be easily displayed within and around in the practice.
“I find many time-poor staff learn clinicians respond well to flowcharts and they are also a helpful practice management tool, as practice managers can refer to them for training new staff and reinforcing important concepts such as removing recalls, or marking results as notified,” Katrina explains. “These visual representations of practice systems also work well to meet accreditation requirements.”
If doctors trust our systems they will be more likely to use the technology
According to Katrina, if we have safe, solid, tested systems within a practice, our medical practitioners will trust the systems and processes and feel more comfortable to use the technology.
“A team-designed, systematic approach to technology can make all the difference between a practice where health professionals are making the most out of the software, and a practice that’s struggling to keep up with change,” she explains. “From streamlining document management, to automated SMS recalls and reminders, practice managers can strategically implement a variety of powerful, easy to learn technology tools to make systems smoother and more efficient for everyone within the practice.”
A systematic approach to technology means not only existing doctors will benefit from the clinical and workflow efficiencies of the solutions, but new doctors may also be attracted to join the practice – because they know there are safe processes and support in place and the pressure is off them to do everything themselves.
“Ultimately, if you build clarity and trust with technology systems within a supportive team culture you are helping make your practice become a happier place to work,” Katrina concludes. “And a happier practice in turn, will attract a more loyal, satisfied staff and patient base.”