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Why do GPs move practices and how can we mitigate this risk? Every year Alecto Australia runs a survey to GPs asking a range of questions about their work, their billings and what they like about their practice. This year we asked them the question “If you are considering moving practices within the next 12 months, what would your primary reason be for making the move?”

 1. To   earn more money.

The top reason is no surprise: 55% of GPs answered that this is the main reason they would leave their current practice. It may seem like we are not able to change this reason for leaving, however, there are a few ways you may be able to prevent this:

  • Provide quarterly summaries to your GPs about their earnings. A lot of GPs do not realise how well they are earning as it is difficult to track billings. We have seen some clinics implement this successfully and this made some GPs reconsider leaving a practice.
  • Provide MBS training. If your GPs feel they are not earning well, help increase their billing by providing an MBS training session through a medical educator. This is beneficial for both the GP and the practice. Alecto has contacts with experienced facilitators, contact us for more information.
  • Marketing Support. We may mention this point a lot however, a little marketing can go a long way if the GPs are not earning well due to lack of patients. Many practices are not actively investing in marketing and may be missing their potential.

2. Moving to a mixed billing practice

This all comes down to earnings and the stigma of bulk billing. No matter how popular bulk billing is becoming to the patients, many GPs strive to work in a mixed billing practice. This may be different to change if you are a bulk billing practice, however, if you focus on helping them earn well as per the above, the GPs will stay.

Alecto Australia always talks to GPs about the benefits of bulk billing. From this same survey, we were able to determine that GPs working in bulk billing usually earn more than those in mixed billing. Therefore, we are constantly fighting against stigma on behalf of bulk billing practices to help doctors understand that the reality may be better than the perception.

3. Better working hours

Sometimes improved working hours are a case of ‘the grass is greener’ and doctors move on because they don’t realise what is possible in their current practice.  We have seen cases where GPs believe that your practice doesn’t offer them the ideal working hours and therefore are looking to move even though there may be solutions.

Of course it could be that  the business model for your GP practice doesn’t allow for much flexibility, but maybe  you have the ability to address the GPs concerns and prevent them leaving by implementing some of these ideas:

  • Ensure that roster coordinators and Practice Managers are sending out positive and accurate messages and listening carefully to the concerns or requests from GPs.   Are your team members reflecting the level of care and flexibility that the owners are willing to provide?
  • Keep open communication with the entire team to ensure that the after hours roster is seen to be fair to all of the GPs.
  • Demonstrate the link between good after hours work and the ability to build a patient base during business hours.
  • Provide incentives for after-hours work to help doctors boost their earnings in the after hours period – and especially on weekends.
  • Consider whether your GPs need added security and nursing support during the after hours period.  Sometimes financial constraints don’t make this possible, but we have seen GPs leave their practice because they feel unsupported in the after hours period.

These reasons where the clear outstanding top 3 reasons why GPs would consider moving practices. There were many other responses including developing a special interest, busier practice, better location, and better nurses.

Knowing the key reasons and managing them may help you to retain your best doctors.