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The future of General PracticeBy Mark O’Connor, Cutcher & Neale, Accountants, Newcastle.

Late last year, MSI Global Alliance firm – Cutcher & Neale sponsored the AMA Family Doctor Week, a national series of events highlighting the fact that the role of the General Practitioner is fundamental to the health of the community. But what about the health of General Practice itself?

Where to for General Practice?

It seems that no industry can remain unruffled by the winds of change currently blowing through the economy and society at large. Even the most traditional professions (accounting included) are touched by it.The medical profession too is wrestling with a raft of changes, some actual, some imminent, including the ongoing tussle with the Federal Government over Medicare rebates, the outcome of which will have a significant impact on practice finances. Then there are changes in the nature of General Practice over the past decade such as those noted in the recently released Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) report. Some key points include:

  • The feminisation of the profession, with the proportion of female GPs now at 43%.
  • The aging of the GP workforce with almost half now over 55.
  • More GPs working in larger practices with a steady decline in solo general practice.
  • A doubling in the number of consults involving practice nurses and allied health workers.

Taken as a whole, we’re looking at a major shift in the way practices operate and maintain their financial viability. The challenge is to adapt to the new realities.

The good news is that on the flipside of change is opportunity. In the accounting profession, for instance, technology and software have eliminated many time consuming processes, time that can now be used to focus even more on the holistic needs of clients. Firms like ours that embrace change will be all the better off for it, as will our clients.

Likewise for medical practices. By adopting appropriate technology, maintaining financial systems and processes based on sound business principals and developing high quality practice management, the contemporary medical practice will be in good shape to deal with any change. And the payoff goes beyond the financial. An efficiently run practice will allow the practitioner more time to focus on what matters most – delivering better patient outcomes.

Contact the author directly by email or by telephone.

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