Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

Power Information: Part 2 of Our Interview with Dr. Suvir Venkataraman

Coming into private practice management from another professional background offers a range of opportunities and challenges alike. Learn how to make the most of the diverse experiences of your team members in part 2 of our interview with Dr. Suvir Venkataraman, General Manager of Harley Street Fertility Clinic.

Managing an entire practice is not an easy endeavour, and it surely takes time to get right. What kind of mistakes do you see new practice managers making most frequently?

I alluded to the biggest one we’ve made earlier.

It’s a big mistake to hire only for skills rather than personality. Just don’t do it.

You could have someone coming to you with great experience, and they might even have been the top performer in their previous workplace. They could have all the skills you’re looking for, but they’re just not the right fit. If this is the case, don’t hire them. The most important thing is to be willing to wait until you find the right people.

Digital tools are becoming more and more useful for patients, healthcare practitioners and practice managers alike. What kind of experience have you had with practice management software?

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Very poor, actually. It’s been very frustrating. I used to think that it’s only healthcare that has this problem because we have regulations and various requirements to fulfil. I was speaking to some friends of mine, and this isn’t actually the case.

We are now getting over the hump and modernising, but until very recently it was very behind the times. There was nothing available that was user-friendly, and there are only 2-3 options for managing a fertility practice. However, these were developed in the nineties, and so we were still stuck in that era. We couldn’t access electronic health records system easily, to the extent that we went ahead and got our own developer to make us something that patients and staff can sign in to.

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Digital health is getting there, and it will make things easier for patients, for example, you won’t have to write down appointments on cards – yes we still do this! You can get reminders on your phone, and this is especially useful for patients who have to take medicines at specific times.

Healthcare develops fast and changes are occurring all the time. Where do you see practice management and overall healthcare going in the next 5 to 10 years?

These days, we have a lot more information about patients and the practice in general, but it’s about using that information to actually improve the patient experience. That’s where I think we’ll see the biggest changes.

We’ll start to see more personalised medicine, with patients having a lot more access to their information. This is a good and bad thing for practices, and we are all going to have to become more lean and agile in the way we work.

Having information available is always a good thing, and having a way to deal with it is even better.

When the NHS started going digital, there were a lot of headaches and burdens, but test results are now available to doctors as and when they need it. This has a huge impact on the patient experience.

Practice management is a demanding role. What’s your secret to time management and a better work-life balance? How do you spend a usual day from beginning to end?

I like my days because no two days are quite the same. I like the variety of my work. When you deal with people, you realise that no two people are the same, and you never know how things are going to go.

To maintain my work-life balance, I have a couple of things. Firstly, I have always been quite relaxed. I’ve never worked in a job that has been 9-5. Working in a research group, you do all kinds of weird hours. If you have an experiment that you have to go and check on at three in the morning, you go and do it. I’m used to being quite flexible with my hours.

For me, what’s been really useful is something I learned from a friend. She calls them “non-negotiables in life”. These are set things, whether it’s for work or for yourself, that you don’t change unless the building is on fire or something. I tend to keep a couple of activities that are set in stone and won’t change come what may. These will typically be for myself, and since I cycle a lot, I save Wednesday evenings at 6 o’clock for a bike ride. I won’t change that for anything.

Allocating certain things for yourself is good for your sanity.

In terms of work, I tend to keep my mornings free for administrative work or internal issues that tend to come up. I use my afternoons for meetings with suppliers and any external providers that I might have to deal with.

Do you have a favourite quote you would like to share with our readers?

There’s a favourite of mine, which is an old Albert Einstein quote,

“Things should be as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

1st part of the interview is here

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