- On 02/10/2016
Queanbeyan GP Super Clinic is located in Crawford St near Queanbeyan hospital in what might be described as a low socio economic demographic area. QGPSC has 7 Directors with 21 General Practioners – an FTE of 15.
In a rental arrangement they also have onsite Allied Providers; Psychology, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics, Physiotherapy and Podiatry.as well as Visiting Specialists including Cardiology, Urology, and Gynaecology.
Although always marketed as Private Billing Clinic QGPSC bulkbill about 50% of their consults this includes but is not limited to HCC or Pension Card Holders, Veterans, Unemployed or genuine hardship, Under 16’s.
Conversations started about 6 months ago regarding the need for a fee increase but they soon realised that the amount they could increase alone was not going to be enough to ensure growth of the practice and that they could no longer rely on the MBS or fee increases as a substantial income source. And even though the fee increase was instituted it also became apparent that alternatives were needed.
The fee increase was advertised on the Practice website and waiting room TV screen. QGPSC communicated to their patients that any fee increase was driven by the failure of medicare and the government to recognise the increased costs in delivering quality care.
It was decided that small increases every six months as opposed to annual hikes was a softer away to manage patients expectations.
Using this approach there was no negative feedback and no evident impact on patient base, however more action was required to ensure sustainability and financial growth.
As space was not a problem the practice increased their Allied Health on a rental basis and were able to engage more doctors on a Service agreement arrangement.
Improving quality care
QGPSC then embarked on an innovative plan that they had identified as an untapped opportunity in their area and developed a Workcover Injury Management strategy.
Using the skills of an employee from the Private Health sector in a six-month project management position they set up systems for onsite flu clinics (no Medicare rebates accessed). They also negotiated with corporate employers to deliver pre-employment medical packages.
Further they are in the process of developing and implementing two programs;
- Assist Program – Involves the assurance of a same day appointment for an injured worker and a guarantee that the General Practioner will liaise closely with the return to work co-ordinator and physiotherapist in order to get worker back to work before it becomes an insurance claim
- Restore Program – When an injury becomes a claim QGPSC guarantee cooperation and collaboration with all members of the required team for best possible outcomes for the injured worker.
What they learnt
Practice Manager Craig Simpson tells us that there is enthusiastic uptake of these services amongst enterprise and industry in the Queanbeyan area.
“Think outside the (Medicare) box and take advantage of what your demographic presents you. Do what fits your practice and continue to expand on what you already have in place.”
He believes that whilst there will be no fundamental changes to service delivery, government will continue to decrease available funding. Some degree of corporatisation may become essential for survival which in turn may destroy traditional approach to General Practice if we don’t think and act fast to implement sustainability strategies.
Our thanks to QGPSC Directors and Practice Manager Craig Simpson for their time and willingness to share their story.
See what billing model is right for you
The billing model that you choose will depend on a range of factors. Future Practice and the AMA NSW have developed a web tool to quickly and easily test the long-term financial sustainability of your practice. Check your practice now: