Nicky Of Oz

A series revealing practice management wizardry from Nicky’s health industry experience of 30+ years

Chapter 3 : Organisational Systems In Practice Management Efficiency

I often get asked how we manage so many medical practices with so few staff. There are several factors behind this which includes a systematic approach to all jobs, hands-on information about all practices and ensuring that duties are tackled daily.

I must admit I do get considerably nervous when I visit a practice and see that they have hundreds (sometimes thousands) of emails unanswered or their desks are messy with documents and the “old” sticky notes.

For all the practices I manage and not including the practices we are setting up daily, I have three computer screens, no paper in-tray and no paper on my desk! The office does look a bit like I am part of the stock exchange, but the risk of me losing an important document or not completing an urgent task is not a risk factor for me.

Emails and reminders

Like most other people, I use Microsoft 365 for emails, calendars etc. For each inbox, I have subfolders into which I drag emails once they have been read. I never leave an email in the inbox once read. If I need to follow up, I add a reminder in my outlook calendar. Each day I look at my calendar and tackle all reminders or follow-ups, then start reading my emails again.

My email inboxes are “clean” at the end of each day. Once I have completed my reminders in my diary, I type DONE next to the entry. This is done for two reasons. Firstly is so I know that the item has been attended to, and secondly, if someone contacts me and asks when this was completed, I have a date.

Hands-on Information

For each practice or company, we use a TRELLO Board. This is free software and I learnt a few months ago it won an international award. I don’t know what I would do without this software. I have the app on my desktop and also on my phone.

A “board” is set up for each centre and then you can add lists. For example, I have the names of all doctors at each centre, important information like ABN’s and also lists of “to-do “ items.

It is worth a Google for watching the videos and setting this up. I should mention that I also put any “quick’ information on the Trello Board instead of using “sticky” notes, so I don’t risk losing important information.

I encourage all practices to use this system so they don’t have scrappy books everywhere and notes which are on the floor or stuck to the back of the desk.

Project Management

Setting up a practice or getting ready for accreditation can be mind-blowing. Sometimes you feel like an octopus. There is also the fact that you need to ensure that other people you are delegating to are also doing their jobs.

For any kind of project management or any process that requires a lot of steps, I use ASANA. There is a cost for this, but the software pays for itself. You can allocate jobs to everyone, list all the processes and reminders are sent automatically. I even use ASANA as a tool to onboard general practitioners and other staff. You can also export the information to an excel spreadsheet or a PDF format.

I wouldn’t go back to Words document checklists now I have this product. It’s all online and it also has a phone app so I can check the progress of work on the hop. The other good feature is that if you need to add a new process, it’s easy. You can add in between other processes without changing word document formats etc.

All of the above are great tools for Practice Managers. The key to practice management is to be organised to stay on top of your game.

What is ‘Nicky Of Oz’

Being a Practice Manager in General Practice is challenging, rewarding and frustrating all at the same time. Protocols are consistently changing along with Medicare item numbers and new initiatives which are thrown onto General Practice at the last minute. Don’t get me wrong, it is an exciting profession to be in and you are constantly learning. It also helps if you have a good sense of humour and thick skin.

I have been in the Australian health industry for over 30 years. I migrated from the UK and started working for an ENT surgeon in Sydney. He was also new to Australia and setting up a new practice. It was also the first time that computers were used in general practice. I can still remember going in for a typing test for my interview. I was tapping away and nothing was happening. Both the ENT surgeon and I were complaining about the typewriter as it was new and appeared to be broken already. It turned out that the typewriter was not plugged in. Those were the days. Plenty of laughs over the past 30 years and many friends and colleagues made.

The aim of this blog is to supply as much information as I can to you as it currently stands in 2022. I hope to retire in the next few years and have learnt so much. It is a shame to retire without passing on what I have learned. You will also read some funny stories – all anonymous of course, but refreshing and real. I hope you enjoy reading these blogs.

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