Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

Real Integration of Services Makes All the Difference: Part 2

Stefaan Vossen
November 24, 2017

All healthcare practitioners could stand to learn a little from one another to help boost the quality of service provided to patients. Dr Stefaan Vossen, clinical director and founder of Core Clinics outlines the main dos and don’ts for practice managers as the role of digital health increases.

1st part of the interview is here

To what extent do you currently use clinic management software and other digital health solutions in the everyday running of your practices and treatment of your patients?

At any given time, we have 6-7 different healthcare software systems open, and we use it for patient notes, communication between clinicians present in the clinic, and communication for those who are not present but would like to see updates.

Everything we do is cloud-based, so we can make sure that our work complies with all the ISO and other standards. We don’t actually use paper at all, other than on the very first day when a patient might fill in a form.

After we have scanned it in and uploaded it, the original gets shredded.

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When it comes to going digital, the issue lies in what the clinician wishes to achieve. That’s the main question. Going back to one of my earlier points on transitioning to the private sector, if people are looking to work with their own two hands and then take away money at the end of the day, paper may very well be cheaper. However, it won’t be if you’re running an intricate network of clinical processes like in the case of my working with 24 clinicians.

For example, one of my patients may follow any given pathway and see 6 different clinicians, leaving you in a panic. You have to have that kind of data platform in order to allow for this. The consequence is that you end up doing really interesting clinical work, being able to make some pretty serious statements about research and development. This feeds back into your question about retention because if you’re leaving the beaten path and showing people how it’s done, then they’ll be quite loyal to what you’re doing. It all feeds into each other, you see.

Clinic management software and indeed private healthcare as a whole have been changing rapidly over the past few years. Have any particular trends caught your eye, and where do you see healthcare going in the next 5-10 years?

I think the death of the mono-disciplinary clinic is nigh. Whether it’s a one or a few GPs, or a couple of physiotherapists, these mono-disciplinary approaches are very inefficient. There are three main silos in healthcare:

1) The type of problems that can be left alone and will take care of themselves;

2) More chronic problems that fail to recover and need assistance;

3) Serious problems that require a pharmaceutical or surgical approach.

The first one is being addressed in more complementary and alternative branches of medicine, but the second one is where there’s a real gap in the market. It’s currently being provided for by everything from mono-disciplinary practitioners like GPs. The third category is for consultant and hospital-based medical solutions.

In the middle group, people are going from one clinic to another, getting a mono-disciplinary approach from clinician A and then another mono-disciplinary approach from clinician B. However, there’s no crossover talk between these two clinicians. If you start to bring those disciplines together, then you can do some really amazing clinical work.

For example, combining podiatry with osteopathy would be very interesting. For strengthening and conditioning, our training gym in Warwick links this with psychology. All of these combinations can have very effective results.

The mono-disciplinary clinic is just too inefficient, too costly, and it’ll die out. Having the right software platform that enables clinicians to do their job at the front end and facilitates practice management and the use of the right information at the back end is going to be absolutely crucial.

Our group of practices is clearly very successful. In your opinion, is there something in common that all successful private practices have?

I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by incredibly successful clinicians my whole life, and I would say that they all put their patients before their egos. But it depends on what your definition of success is. If we are talking about making a lot of money, then I’ve seen people with very big egos who have put these egos first and make a lot of money. If we are talking about being effective and efficient, having a balanced relationship between your efforts and your rewards, then I would say it’s a process of putting your patients before your ego.

What are the most common mistakes made by practice managers in the private sector?

We can only really talk about our own cases as we are slaves to our observational bias, but I think the most common mistake that people make is to take their customers for granted. You can’t assume that people will put up with nonsense or that it’s okay to keep people waiting. All of those kinds of things that have to do with the quality of care provided and the customer pathway.

It’s true that a bad cup of coffee is not going to lose you a patient, but it’s going to change the way that people relate to your brand. It’s true that a grumpy secretary will not stop somebody from coming into your clinic, but it’s going to affect whoever they refer by word of mouth. It’s going to be a different conversation, and it won’t be, “They’re so welcoming and lovely”. Instead, it’ll be, “Don’t pay too much attention to the secretaries; they’re grumpy”.

You set the tone with those kinds of experiences, and we are in an industry that’s going to become more and more competitive. It will revolve around quality and experience in my opinion. If you can make those excellent, then you will be successful.

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

There are so many, but the most useful one is: If you want to excel, then surround yourself by people who are better than you.

In case you missed him talking about clinic management software, you can read more about Stefan's experiences in the first part of our interview right here

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