Issue 10 - Medical & Allied Health Services
It appears health reform is well embedded on the government's agenda. In addition to the planned implementation of the Health Care Homes Model, there is the ongoing work on the Medicare review, the Re-design of the Practice Incentive Payment Program and the full roll-out of the NDIS across Australia.
The RACGP have reported that many practices are adapting to the landscape by shifting billing models, and introducing co-payments and other fees so that they can combat financial pressures and continue to provide quality general practice services to their patients.
Seeking to adapt during challenging times such as these is the right approach, but it is also a great time to take a more in-depth review and longer term outlook of the business. An opportunity that importantly is about creating a business that can survive and thrive through the challenges ahead.
It is worth noting that the revised edition of the RACGP General Practice Standards (5th edition) will have a component on strategic planning as part of the new standards. This recognition by the profession to incorporate strategic planning as a performance indicator supports the need that medical businesses must embed longer term planning into their operations.
Aligning your business vision into your strategic planning will ensure that the daily operations all work towards achieving sustained success. The benefits of strategic planning to your business include:
- Focusses attention on the common vision and purpose.
- Reduces distractions caused by minor differences of opinion.
- Provides a platform for effective decision making.
- Reduces you vulnerability to external influences in the industry.
- Enables your practice to be proactively managed.
- Provides a clear focus for the investment of effort and resources.
- Increases productivity because effort is steered in the same direction.
- Builds stronger teams and the buy-in of people involved in the process.
- Communicates goals and objectives to key stakeholders.
Your strategic plan will be one of the most important tools in your business tool kit. Ensuring it is in place prepares you for the future and can enable your business to weather any challenge or change created by government.
We have extensive experience in assisting high performing medical practices through the process of strategy planning. Contact Danny Haydon, Manager Practice Management Services if you want to discuss how we can tailor a strategic planning exercise for your practice.
The cornerstone of the proposed Redesign of the Practice Incentive Program is the new Quality Improvement Incentive. The incentive focusses on data collection and the improvement of the quality of that clinical data.
There will also be an expectation to provide evidence of quality improvement activities to address the clinical needs of the practice population. It is expected that a national minimum data set for measuring health outcomes through general practice will be developed to provide a platform for data collection.
Quality Improvement is also a focus of the latest edition (5th edition) of the RACGP Standards for General Practice that has been drafted and will be launched in October 2017.
The revised edition now includes a Quality Improvement Module highlighting the increased emphasis on demonstrating quality improvement. The measurement of improvement is a focus through evidence gleaned from the practice's own information and data.
The three critical aspects of Quality Improvement are:
- Data input - Ensuring the data is recorded in the correct field in the medical record and coded appropriately.
- Data extraction - The ability to extract the data in a format that can be used to evaluate the quality of care provided and help to target intervention more appropriately.Quality Improvement - Demonstration of the quality improvement cycle involving planning, implementation, evaluation and adjustment.
Information management is now a critical aspect of any business. For medical practices, the effective use of clinical data to drive quality improvement should be a priority not only for compliance, but also as a resource for decision making and driving practice performance.
The "Dental Practice Research Report 2016/17" is a paper which has been produced by key industry advisors and provides a summary of responses it has received from many dental practices Australia-wide. The report provides some powerful insights into the key features of high-performing Dental Practices, and the strategic threats which all Dental Practices are currently facing.
The top 5 characteristics of a successful Dental Practice were:
1. Patient Service & Experience
2. Use of Technology
3. Quality Service
4. One-Stop Shop
5. Strong Values
The top 5 Business concerns and challenges were:
1. Growth in Patient Numbers
2. Oversupply of Dental Graduates
4. Relationship with Health Providers
5. Corporatisation of Practices
How well your practice aligns with the characteristics of a successful dental practice, or how it is dealing with the business concerns and challenges can be difficult to measure. Practice owners are often extremely busy with patient consultations, meaning these issues can go unaddressed, much to the detriment of the practice in the medium-long term.
You may wish to consider the following to determine how well you are attending to these issues:
- Benchmarking of financial and non-financial KPI's to Industry Standards
- Periodic Management Accounting Reports
- External Advisory Board or Virtual CFO (Chief Financial Officer) to provide strategic guidance for your business
- Growth & Succession Planning
- Process & Cost Efficiency Reviews
If you would like a copy of the full report or to discuss this further, please contact our office.
The Department has reported that the applications for participation in Stage 1 of the Health Care Homes implementation were oversubscribed. An announcement of the successful applicants is imminent.
While Stage 1 will only involve 200 practice across Australia, the practices not involved in the trial can still proactively prepare for the full implementation that is expected to occur when Stage 1 concludes in 2019.
Practice can prepare by;
- Keeping up to date with the progress of Stage 1.
- Review and identify their cohort of chronic disease patients that would be eligible for Health Care Homes and focus on engaging these patients in their current chronic disease program.
- Track the services and fees associated with the 'eligible' cohort.
- Review and update the care planning process used in the practice.
- Develop the practice's information systems to ready them for Health Care Homes and the Quality Improvement requirements of the Practice Incentive Payment and RACGP Standards.
The Health Care Homes Model will be the most significant change to Medicare since it was introduced. It's worth being prepared to manage this change when it is rolled out nationally.
Pulse IT reported on 25 March 2017, that in the wake of the successful opt-out trials conducted in Northern Queensland and Nepean Blue Mountains areas, the COAG Health Council meeting has agreed to adopt the opt-out model on a national scale.
No indication has been given for the timeframe for implementation of a national roll-out, but this is good news for practices that have struggled with the onerous process of patient registration.
It is also generally accepted across the industry that a critical mass is required to encourage the MyHealth Record to be readily used by providers and patients.
The AAPM National Conference this year will be held on 24-27 October in Perth.
Full details of the program and registrations will be available shortly. The inside story is that the program is packed with an impressive range of highly regarded speakers.
Save the date for now and look out for when the program goes live on the website.