Practice Managers - The Unsung Hero

Practice managers – what does the future hold?

Recent statistics from 2019 suggest that more than 25% of practice managers are actively planning to quit their jobs and many more feel unhappy in a role with increasing pressure and decreasing satisfaction. Burnout is often cited.

Practice managers keep the doors open, the lights on, the doctors paid and the patients flowing and are critical to the delivery of clinical care and the smooth running of the business. However, with increasing demand and shrinking resources is it any wonder they are feeling the pressure?

Change is on the horizon

There has been a lot of discussion around the changing role of the practice manager. Just as GPs are going to have to work differently across teams, so are practice managers. Everywhere, providers are grappling with how to make best use of the talent, time and resources of their staff to cope with mounting workforce pressures while improving care quality. This is especially true in general practice.

With the arrival of primary care networks (PCNs) there could be an exciting future ahead for practice managers, in leading PCNs alongside clinical directors. For some, this may seem like a daunting prospect but equally a great opportunity, as long as the training needs are met and the role is clearly defined.

Managing the finances will remain a core skill but added to that they will need to be competent in new technology and implementing systems that improve efficiency, reduce staff workload and above all improve patient care.

What PCNs will mean for the future of practice managers?

Up until recently, practice managers have not been in a position to share staff or resources but with the arrival of PCNs hopefully this will become much easier. The widened networks will give the opportunity to share staff and work jointly and share best practice, in theory alleviating the pressure on an individual practice manager. PCN hubs could further alleviate the pressure with specialist support in HR.

Easing the workforce pressures

Many of the day-to-day pressures felt by a practice manager focus around workforce planning, and a shortage of GPs has to be a catalyst for change. The team-working approach may ease the pressure on staff gaps as a wider range of professions come into the network, but clearly technology will still have a big role to play.

Practices will need to make the most of digital solutions, where they add value. The right technology can dramatically help workforce challenges including those posed by cross-team working.

Rota management software for example, will be of huge benefit in helping to make efficient use of staff, undoubtedly add value, and play a key role in the effective use of budget.