Case study: Developing a skilled practice manager

A good practice manager is pivotal to the success of a medical practice. The Australian Association of Practice Management share how they helped equip a practice manager with skills and knowledge to maximise her clinics growth.

Professional development for practice staff can be challenging. My consulting clients sometimes ask, “What if we train them and then they leave us?” My best answer is: what if you don’t train them and they stay?

Red Valley Family Practice* is an example of professional development resulting in a positive return on investment.

Red Valley Family Practice, in the words of the client, was “going okay” – the patients were happy and the doctors were mostly happy. The rooms were starting to show their age and were really not functional. There were issues with ensuring the allied health staff were financially viable whilst also ensuring quality care to the patients. Everyone was doing their job, but there was not a specific focus or motivation. Strategically, the principals had been thinking about expanding, moving or providing additional services. The reality was that it was really just a bit ‘too hard’.

Then came the change: their experienced receptionist accepted the practice manager position, joined the Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) and the practice funded her to complete the Diploma in Practice Management.

Now there was someone in the practice with two vital elements to move the practice forward plus a keen interest in, and the allocated time to, manage the business. And what the practice manager didn’t know, she had resources and networks through AAPM to find out.

The practice manager also brought in a consultant to provide further advice, as well as attended AAPM continuing professional development and education to facilitate her learning.

This helped equip her to be able to provide the exact information the doctors needed, when they needed it, to make an informed decision.

Red Valley Family Practice has grown significantly over the past five years:

• A move to new functional rooms
• Adding a branch practice
• Adding radiology, podiatry, pathology, pharmacy and a coffee shop to the main practice
• Reviewing the business structure which enabled development of customised entry and exit of doctors from the business
• Developing effective financial and non-financial reporting for the principals to ensure they have appropriate information about the business performance to make decisions and plan.

The principals at Red Valley agree that their business would not have grown without their practice manager, and they have benefited from her professional development and involvement with AAPM. Best of all, she has stayed!

*The name of the practice has been changed to maintain confidentiality of this regional general practice.

If you would like to know more about developing your practice manager visit The Australian Association of Practice Management www.aapm.org.au or call 1800 196 000.