Nicky Of Oz

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

Chapter 5 : Teamwork & Change Management

I recently surveyed some of the medical centres we manage and asked what they thought made a great medical centre.

Answers included IT, great doctors, and the location of the practice. However, most answers stated teamwork. This makes sense as if there isn’t a good team and great communication, then nothing is going to work smoothly.

A great team looks after most of the issues that can go wrong in medical practices.

For example, if you have IT problems, looking at the issues as a team makes life so much easier. One person can phone the IT company, one person can let patients and doctors know and as a group, you can infuse a calm attitude to those in and out of the practice.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some problems which are ongoing and frustrating, especially with IT. If issues continue, then collectively it is important to go to the root of the problem. If it can’t be fixed, it can’t be fixed. But there is no point dwelling on the issue. Find another solution and move on.

A great example of teamwork was during the pandemic. None of us had dealt with this before and it was a problem that we could not control.

I was fascinated by how quickly people adapted to new rules, new systems and working as a team. My colleagues in the health industry tried new technology they had never dreamt of. This proved that change management issues can be overcome.

The leader of the team is usually the medical practice manager and /or Director of the practice i.e. doctor. It is essential that you stay abreast of what is happening at the practice and also remain as calm as possible. If staff see you are worried, they also get worried. Even if you have to smile through your teeth, do it!

It is also important to plan as much as possible. I remember when the pandemic started, practices were panicking. However, the RACGP has had a pandemic plan on their website for years instructing practices on what to do and the RACGP 5th Edition Standards focus on risk management. It is imperative that you constantly update your education and be prepared for the worst.

I must admit that IT and chain supply of infectious control equipment was a challenge, but practices adapted quickly. Doctors utilised Telemedicine and software companies adapted  a lot quicker than they have ever done before.  Medicare had new item numbers flying in all directions ( now that was a challenge for medical administrators).

This week QLD Government decided that they were going to offer free flu vaccines to all QLD residents. It is typical of the government to introduce a new policy  they have not communicated to general practice, hence more frustration and confusion. So, what do we do?

My thoughts were:

  1. Add a post on social media explaining vaccines will be on the way to GP practices, and as soon as they have been allocated, this will be communicated to patients
  2. Tell patients not to panic
  3. Consider changing your telephone on-hold message
  4. Wait for advice from your PHN. They are a conduit between you and the government and will keep practices informed of progress
  5. As far as refunding patients requesting refunds for previously purchased vaccines or figuring out how a practice can get a refund on the vaccines their practice purchased, there is nothing you can do, so don’t overthink the issue! PHN is waiting as well. So again, communicate to patients via social media and don’t worry about something you have no control over.  By the way, practices will get reimbursed for their purchased vaccines and patients cannot get a refund for their vaccines purchased prior to the 24 May 2022. That’s just the way it is. If the patient insists, give them the phone number of your local MP.
  6. Find out what your colleagues are doing. It’s great getting ideas from colleagues. It is also good having a sounding board as well.

At Nicky Jardine Health Business Consulting, we are used to change management. We live and breathe it. We have had a remote practice management service for over 10 years. We realised many years ago that a lot of administration work is better suited to an off-site model. We continuously look for new technology to assist our company and general practices around Australia.  And remember if you need a practice manager or assistance with your management, give us a call. We get jobs finished in half the time because we are not dealing with the day to day operations. The majority of reception and nursing staff are very efficient with dealing with those issues.

On a funny note, it seems that everything that goes wrong is blamed on Covid. It truly drives me mad and we all know that not everything that goes wrong has nothing to do with Covid. Recently, I was on a flight to North QLD, and a bloke on the plane asked the cabin crew for a beer. The cabin crew said, “we don’t have alcohol on board now because of Covid “. The bloke had a completely blank look on his face and said “what…. Does the beer need a vaccine now ?”.

I certainly had a good giggle at his response!

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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