After years of working for a bank supporting clients in the healthcare sector, I have a great understanding of how successful practices structure themselves.

The practice structure can be considered from both an internal and external viewpoint.

Internal – looks at the day-to-day operations – staffing and utilisation of skills.

External – takes a step back from the business and looks at the wider picture – examining how the practice is equipped for the future.

So just what is the key to a successful practice?

It is having someone with a business focus driving the practice. Benchmarking performance against similar practices and learning from this to then utilise those outcomes to deliver better services to patients and improving overall performance.

But who is the business focus coming from – the practice/business manager or a nominated GP? If it’s the GP driving the business, ask yourself if they have the business acumen to run the practice. They clearly have high clinical skills but that does not mean they have had the necessary business training which may merit a mentoring approach and support from an experienced colleague, accountant, or consultant.

Successful practices will also have an operating model that maximises support from pharmacists and other healthcare professionals and uses the shared knowledge of their Primary Care Network to deliver the most effective care to patients.

Succession planning is another vital consideration.

What are the financial implications of a partner retiring? There is also potentially the loss of a certain skills set if an outgoing GP has expertise in a particular area.

Maintaining the number of GPs within the practice should be a priority as well as questioning whether the practice is equipped to deal with future population demand of the area it serves.

As well as thinking about the future of the partnership, the suitability of the premises should also be considered. If retiring partners are part of the property-owning partnership they may wish to be brought out and the options to finance this need to be considered. New partners joining the practice may have different aspirations and not wish – or be financially able – to buy into the property holding partnership.

As well as ownership, consideration should be given to the actual suitability of the premises and whether they are future proofed in terms of population growth and the future provision of services.

Purpose built premises may allow greater flexibility for the practise to grow and react to changes rather than converted premises. If investment in the premises is needed, owing partners need to be sure that the investment is worthwhile.

All practices benefit from using external ‘sounding boards’ such as networking groups and fellow healthcare professionals for support and reassurance when it counts.

Looking at the bigger picture helps to encompass all aspects of the business and identify those areas to focus, improve and reflect on.

Kevin Stewart FCIB MBA CertNED

Couple of final things for you to consider…

• What steps have you taken to future proof your practice?

• How do you measure and improve practice business performance?

If you would like some help in evaluating where you are on this journey and where you want to be, we can help you navigate the change.

Please contact PMA Enquiries at: