Delving into the crucial role of data in supervising and optimising labour costs in medical practices

In the ever-evolving, dynamic world of today’s healthcare industry, it is a pressing necessity for medical practices to consistently seek out ways to better their operational processes and maximise their effectiveness. One of the critical aspects that hold a significant influence on the management of medical practices is the vigilant monitoring and careful control of labour expenditures.

To promote positive financial outcomes, it is crucial for practice owners and managers to discover invaluable insights into their daily operations. Such information is instrumental in facilitating well-informed decision-making that ultimately benefits the medical practice. This article delves in-depth into understanding how these informed insights can aid in optimally balancing staffing levels, enhance the rate of employee retention, and significantly amplify the financial performance of the medical practice.

Analysing Labour Costs: A Look at variable and fixed costs

When broaching the subject of labour costs in a medical practice, it is of utmost importance to fully understand what this cost includes. Typically, labour costs include a specific variable cost that fluctuates based on the total number of work hours clocked in a week. This cost component generally includes your front desk reception team and your nursing staff, directly influencing the wages of nurses and receptionists.

In addition to this, there are also fixed labour costs associated with salaried positions for roles like practice managers or other administrative staff members.

Examining the Labour Proportion of Total Billings

A common method employed by medical practices to track their labour expenses is by calculating the proportion of labour costs out of their total billings. This metric involves adding up the labour costs incurred over a specific timeframe (for instance, the previous month) and comparing it against your gross billings during that same period. This calculation can provide crucial insights into how much the practice is spending to support its billing processes.

Evaluating your Doctor to Nurse ratio

The ratio of doctors to nurses can provide important insights into the level of support the doctors at a practice relies on from the nursing staff. It compares the total hours worked by nurses to the total hours worked by doctors over a certain period of time. Various influencing factors of this ratio could include the skill level of the staff, the services offered by the practice, and the composition of the team.

Assessing the Doctor to Reception Staff ratio

Similar to the doctor to nurse ratio, the doctor to reception staff ratio also gives a valuable perspective. By comparing the total hours worked by reception staff with the total working hours of the doctors over a certain timeframe, this analysis can aid in formulating efficient work schedules and ensure adequate staffing during peak patient hours.

Managing Scheduling and Breaks

Peak patient hours are usually the busiest times for a medical practice and require careful planning and scheduling. During these periods, it is crucial for practices to ensure that they have sufficient staff on hand to service patients. An associated concern is break management. Allowing staff breaks during busy hours might negatively impact the patient experience, and therefore needs cautious handling.

Managing Phone Demand

Managing phone demand can also be quite challenging, especially during peak hours. Medical practices should analyse their data to identify periods of peak phone traffic and ensure they have enough reception staff to handle the influx of calls during these periods.

Managing Annual Leave for General Practitioners

Lastly, managing Annual Leave for General Practitioners (GPs) efficiently is critical to the smooth functioning of the medical practice. Any absence of GPs can result in a decrease in billings, which requires adjustments in the practice’s labour expenses.

Although you cannot control when a GP choose their leave, you can manage the rosters, within reason, to reduce labour costs if a GP is away. Implementing a proactive approach to scheduling and rostering can help maintain a healthy balance.

For instance, do you have a few GPs taking leave in December? Do you then also need to have a discussion with a nurse or receptionist who may have banked annual leave or long service leave, to see if they’d also like to take a break? This both reduces your leave liability for the practice and reduces labour spent over that time.

Key takeaways for controlling labour expenditure in compliance with modern awards

Data plays an instrumental role in managing labour costs in a medical practice. Understanding labour costs, evaluating the proportion of labour in total billings, analysing the ratio of doctors to nurses, and assessing the ratio of doctors to reception staff are all essential for gaining valuable operational insights.

Leveraging data to manage phone demand, effectively schedule breaks, and deal with time off for GPs can lead to increased efficiency and improved financial health for the practice. Therefore, comprehending the diverse facets of labour costs in a medical practice setting is priceless in managing a successful and thriving medical practice.


Bringing it all together

In conclusion, effective labour cost management – ensuring optimal staff scheduling, maintaining a balanced doctor to nurse ratio, and adopting an informed approach to break schedules and time-offs – can significantly lead to an improved bottom line. Guided by data and proactive planning, healthcare practices can not only enhance their operations but also create a robust and sustainable financial foundation.

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