For many of the practice owners that I work with, it seems to be given that certain procedures and processes within the practice are working, but are you sure they are? And how often do you review them with your team? For instance, I recently came across a couple of practices that felt they had too much ‘white space’ in their appointment books and wanted to do some marketing to find more new patients.
Problem – Too much ‘white space’ in the appointment book
Solution from business owner’s perspective – Do more ‘marketing’
However, it is worth spending time to really analyse some of the simple procedures and processes within your practice. If your database of patients is considerable, have another look, you could potentially fill all your ‘white space’ very easily with patients you already know and who already know you.
Having reviewed the practices in question, it soon became apparent that the recall systems were failing these practices.
Signs such as:
- Patients ringing, saying they had received a recall have just been in.
- Patients ringing, saying they hadn’t received a recall for a while.
When this is happening in a practice, it is highly likely that a vital step in the treatment plan process has been missed out.
If the plan hasn’t been completed properly and the recall generated, then no recall will be sent out. Or the recall lists that are being generated, quite frankly, are not recall lists.
Who knows how to use your Practice Management System?
If your system was fitted more than a couple of years ago, the chances are that you have new members of your team that have arrived after installation. Did you train them at their induction? Perhaps they told you that they were familiar with the software and you assumed they knew how to use it?
When we analysed the two practices in question, it was clear that this had happened and for a number of years the system was just not being used to its potential. The Team members quite rightly stated they knew how to use the software, as they thought they did, but it was the way they had been shown at their previous practice.
Check your Practice Management Software is being used correctly and have a team meeting where everyone shares how they use the system. The system is only as good as the information that is entered into it.
Who is responsible for following up patients?
Again, this can be another source of missed opportunities and in both practices large amounts of potential income were uncovered in the form of unfinished treatment plans, some being NHS and past the treatment transmission dates.
If you enrol new staff, it is important to train them in the practice procedures and processes so everyone knows how patients are followed up and who does this. Reception and administrative procedures are just as important for the smooth running of a practice as clinical procedures.
When your surgery door is closed and you are busy generating the income for the practice, you need to be sure you have a team that:
- Knows what is expected of them
- Knows what to do
- Knows how to do it
So, is it time for you and your team to re-visit some of the ‘simple’ and ‘everyday’ procedures in your practice? We would encourage all practices to have a marketing plan, and new patients are always required but you may be surprised to find that you are sitting on an untapped reserve of patients just waiting to hear from you.
About the author
Janet Clarke is a business mentor/coach with Rose and Co. For more information about Janet and the rest of the team at Rose and Co, visit their website.