Thinking about setting up your own medical practice? Without doubt, 2018 is bursting with potential for medical practice owners. We’ve explored the latest legislation, industry trends and insights, so you can turn our 2017 learnings into your 2018 success. Here's what we've learnt.
From 2017 learnings to 2018 success
The industry is changing
Various legislation and national budget changes throughout 2017 will have an impact on how Australia’s healthcare industry will operate in the future. These include the following:
The government will gradually lift the four year freeze on Medicare rebates
At present, the Medicare rebate of $37 only covers about 50% of the recommended consulting fee. According to Associate Professor Helen Dickinson from the University of Melbourne, this means medical practitioners either cover the remainder of the costs themselves or pass this on to patients. However, from next year the indexation of Medicare (resulting in increased rebates) will be reintroduced — starting with GP and specialist consultations from July 2018 and procedures from July 2019. This means there will be less out-of-pocket cost involved for all parties, which may encourage patients to book a consultation where they would normally be dissuaded by the cost.
Small businesses will be able to immediately deduct assets less than $20,000, if purchased by 30 June 2018.
If you’re considering starting your own medical practice, this may incentivise you to start sooner rather than later as this tax incentive is set to expire on June 30, 2018. More information on the $20,000 instant asset write-off can be found here.
Some pharmaceutical prices will be reduced.
Through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Government’s deal with Medicines Australia, the cost of certain medications will be reduced. This will result in less out-of-pocket costs for medical clinics and patients alike.
Many of these changes are likely to result in further budget cuts and legislation updates over the next year. It’s crucial to be aware of any upcoming changes which may affect your private practice; to stay informed or to subscribe to news updates, visit the PBS website.
The ageing population will offer unique healthcare challenges
Older Australians account for an increasing share of the population, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicting that by 2053, Australia’s aged population will have more than doubled. Furthermore, the Productivity Commission estimates that by 2050, over 3.5 million Australians will use aged care services each year.
This will put unprecedented pressure on Australia’s healthcare system, especially as the location of our ageing population is unevenly distributed across the country. Back in 2014, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recorded that 66% of elderly people lived in major cities, 32% in inner regional and outer regional areas, and less than 1% lived in remote areas. However, a more recent study from id The Population Experts revealed that in 2017, the majority of NSW’s ageing population could no longer just be found in major cities, but were also located in high numbers along the coastline.
Before you set up your medical practice, it’s imperative to do extensive research into Australia’s population distribution using online tools like id and The Australian Bureau of Statistics. Be strategic about your medical practice’s location; it will allow you to gauge demand to maximise the growth of your clinic, and may even help relieve the burden on Australia’s healthcare system.
The best business plan evolves with your practice
Getting strategic at every stage of planning helps you prioritise quality patient care as well as your long term profitability.
A strategic plan ultimately equips your practice to evolve and innovate at the same pace as the ever changing healthcare industry. It also acts to unite your team around a shared vision and promotes a culture of trust and transparency.
"A business plan is the key to a more efficient and productive practice." - Dr Neville Steer
By mapping out an ongoing strategic business plan for your practice, you can ensure you’re on the right track for long-term growth.
Data security breaches in 2017 remind us that prioritising patient confidentiality is a must
In July 2017, private health insurer Bupa experienced a data breach and the personal data of almost 20,000 of their customers was leaked. According to Bupa Global, the data was leaked by an employee who had “inappropriately copied and removed some customer information from the company”. Due to restrictions in what information the employee could access in the system, certain personal details like their names, date of birth and contact information were compromised — but not their financial or medical information.
This unfortunate incident uncovered valuable learnings. Medical practitioners must take responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of their patients’ data as both an ethical and legal responsibility.
Developing strong security practices and policies and investing in cloud-based medical practice management platforms that offer the highest levels of data security can support you in protecting yourself as well as your patients.
Intuitive use of data continues to pioneer patient-centred care
Patient-centred care, pioneered through a focus on value rather than volume, continues to be the fundamental shift in healthcare. Cloud-based systems are at the forefront of this movement, offering the flexibility and accessibility of information to both practitioners and patients alike. This has empowered patients with the timely and relevant information, crucial to engaging them in their own healthcare journey while also offering a personalised experience.
Your medical practice deserves to be supported by the best systems and your data management is no exception. Make sure you explore all options in order to find the best solution for your practice.
Over to you
Take it from someone who’s done it many times before — Nicky Jardine, who specialises in designing, establishing and managing medical practices throughout Australia.
“Building a medical practice is fun. Sure, there are ups and downs, but there are ups and downs in all decision-making, even when you work for someone else. Put in the hard yards at the beginning and always put your patients first and you will undoubtedly find a successful and rewarding career as a practice principle.”
– Nicky Jardine
We appreciate that starting a medical practice is no easy feat, and preparing and planning early is a must. For the young fellows among us, entering private practice is an exciting time – you’re on the cusp of a rewarding and meaningful career.
How are you preparing for a 2018 launch? We’ve created an essential guide for specialists seeking to open their own practice. Simply click below and dive into your copy.