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Written by Guest Author Paul Soloviev

I have been establishing, directing and consulting medical practices for over 20 years. I encounter many ‘unhelpful’ events on a daily basis. One of the most unhelpful things I have to deal with is a doctor saying: “My friend told me……”. Those “friends” offer their opinions or secret insider information on a wide variety of topics: Medicare and contracts with the practices being the favourite ones.

First of all, most of those ‘friends’ were met only 5 minutes before the actual conversation during some conference. Some, are doctors working at the same practice. Some met on Facebook. What all those people have in common is that they have no experience or education in anything they profess. Some do it out of the desire to help, some feel gratified helping ‘less experienced colleagues’, some have a hidden agenda.

This blog outlines why it is vital that you always fact check the advice you get from friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

I think after this preamble, everyone who did not have insight into this issue is starting to develop one. Nevertheless, let me continue, offering some real-life examples. 

“My friend told me that a Practice Nurse cannot be counted as a member of Team Care Arrangement. All Care Plans made with the Practice Nurse as a participant are invalid and will be audited.” (Shivers….)

False. Reference here – 

“My friend told me that I will be audited if I do too many Care Plans”. 

The “friend” failed to mention how many is too many. The “friend” did not care to reference his view. In reality, according to various sources, 20 to 50% of Australians suffer from chronic conditions and or mental health conditions. (1) How many Care Plans is appropriate to do? The answer is that a GP needs to offer a Care Plan to every eligible patient.

“My friend told me that I need to be careful not to end at the bad clinic with a bad contract.”

I cannot recall any of the doctors ended up in a bad clinic with a bad contract if they engaged a reputable agency to help them. What agency is considered reputable? The agency that finds the position for an individual doctor is reputable. There are some agencies that deliver emails to every practice in Australia, saying that they have a doctor available in Brisbane hoping for an easy commission. I work with two agencies – Alecto and Austmedics. I have have received many candidate suggestions from other agencies, but unfortunately it was never the right fit.

Bad clinic. That is pretty much rectified by the agency. Agents that work on an individual basis hold their reputation dearly. They will not risk putting a doctor just anywhere. Secondly, always ask about the induction program provided by the practice. If there is no systematic, well-defined induction that lasts at least a few hours, you are about to land with a very bad practice.

“My friend told me that I should get 100% for medical reports because he gets that.”

In reality, the “friend” was leaving the practice, secretly preparing to open his own in the vicinity. He decided to inflict some damage on his current practice since it would become his competitor in the near future. The “friend” blatantly used his colleagues to achieve his commercial goal.

“My friend told me that I should ask for 70% (or whatever %)”

This “friend” unwittingly compared oranges with apples. The “friend” received 70% because he was on a 4-year full-time contract. The doctor he ‘advised’ was a temporary doctor for a 10 months tenure. The costs of engagement (immigration etc) to the practice are the same for both of them. However, the return is not. Hence, the short-term placement received a lesser offer reflecting the costs of engagement. As a result of the less than clever ‘advice’, the doctor’s relationship with the practice became somewhat strained. To the loss of the doctor, confused by the wrong advice, the practice was a busy well-established place where doctors earn well.

I am not saying that listening to “friends” is always detrimental. However, ask yourself some questions. Is the advisor a person who has decades of experience and a holder of specialised education? (No, contrary to common belief, a medical degree does not make anyone an expert in Medical Business). Could it be that the advisor had a hidden agenda? If you are in doubt, ask your agent and or research and verify the evidence with other sources. 

I wish you a safe, satisfying and profitable practice.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as legal opinion and therefore should not be the basis of decision making without requesting legal advice on your circumstances.  Alecto Consulting Pty Ltd does not carry any responsibility for opinions and statements in any of its website blogs or other information.