What strengths does a practice manager need to have outside of great people skills? Health Business Network Strategist Russell Lee offers his top tips on finding a good medical practice manager for new doctors starting out, or for practices wishing to expand their business.

Q Why is the Practice Manager (PM) so crucial to the business?

“I often describe the PM as the person who works ON the business not IN the business,” says Russell, who has set up hundreds of doctors in practices across Australia.
“Yes, typically they know how to process payments and answer the phone, but that part of it is now often performed by the practice receptionist unless the practice is very small.
“Practice managers are responsible for the overarching business operations of the clinic and driving growth, developing plans, and retraining staff where necessary.
“Most importantly, they need excellent leadership and planning skills so they can clearly articulate the “vision” of the practice; understand where the business needs to go and then formulate a measurable plan to drive this. Without a plan, one plans to fail!
“The practice manager is the person who goes in and fixes something where there is a problem, and hopefully retrains staff so it happens without them in the future as they need to be focused on growing the business as well as day to day governance.”

Q What are the typically practice manager responsibilities? 

❖ Managing/overseeing bookings, scheduling and rostering
❖ Overseeing payments via cash, Tyro, Medicare or direct deposits (often done by receptionist)
❖ Completing paperwork for bookings, dealing with hospital bookings
❖ Conversing with patients, specialists, GPs, AHPs and other stakeholders
❖ Diary management
❖ Leading the practice with integrity, passion and drive
❖ Driving change in clinical excellence and revenue generation
❖ Identifying and implementing quality practice improvement. For instance, a practice manager should be proactively identifying issues with caseload – are there too many chronic patients booked in close together which causes delays for other patients? Or conversely too many patients that have easy medical issues that are seen quickly, hence create gaps in the doctors’ diaries?
❖ Troubleshooting operational issues with software and IT
❖ Maintaining all relevant legislative requirements and practice accreditation as well as maintaining statutory records (eg AHPRA, Medicare, Certificate of Currency for Insurances)
❖ Monitoring rosters and budgets
❖ Overseeing the practice software, staff training, management and leadership
❖ Participating in/assisting with marketing