Now get in the recovery position

By Robin Stride

This month’s Independent Pract­itioner Today is packed with a wide range of information, useful tips, and observations from a variety of expert writers – all aimed at helping your private practice move forward again.

Our exclusive website story last week reported that private healthcare and consultants’ earnings are at last seeing a ‘modest revival’. So we hope this issue’s practical advice will be a big help as you move towards some sort of recovery. 

According to data from leading digital services provider Health­code, a slight improvement in insured patients’ activity was registered in the first half of June. 

Billing volumes in the third week of May were 67% down on the same period in 2019 but had revived slightly last month when they were 56% below the previous year’s figure. 

Of course, there is much to be done now and some, such as the London Consultants’ Association, are voicing less than optimistic views about the future.

It is calling for concerted action from everyone: ‘Apart from the consultants, who recognise the reality of the destruction of their business, there seems to be a mistaken acceptance that there will be natural restoration of private practice post-Covid.  

‘This is unlikely to occur without an underlying support strategy and there is a need for all these components – private medical insurers, providers and the consultants – to work together to develop a strategy for the future survival of the sector.’ See ‘Our formula to fire up private practice’.

We hope to see some strong leadership to bring this about, but meanwhile the private doctors finding their feet again on the ground in the ‘new norm’ can find a wealth of immediate support for their own business published here:

Private doctors’ experience in the pandemic is likely to make them reassess their business model and clinical priorities, says the Independent Doctors Federation’s Dr Neil Haughton, speaking at the Private Healthcare Summit.

Following the LCA urging private doctors to think twice about accepting 50% fee cuts from insurers for virtual consultations (see ‘Consultants warned over insurers’ fee cut proposal’), surgeon Mr Ian McDermott spells out just why this work is worth every penny.

Our A-Z of top tips from the accountant’s desk continues with a very topical ‘L’…Leaving lockdown: lessons in IT security.

Private doctors’ organisations – as we reported on our website last month – have welcomed an NHS England  pledge paving the way for a resumption of consultants’ work in the independent sector. We share contents of the letter that has raised private doctors’ hopes of getting back to work.

David Hare, boss of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, tells us: ‘I firstly want to assure Independent Practitioner Today readers that independent healthcare providers absolutely understand the impact this has had on consultants’ working life and the frustrations they feel and, as a sector, we are doing everything we can to release private practice and get more private consultants back to work.’

Positive patient experience is the most powerful way to influence the reputation of your service, requiring discipline across all aspects of your practice. 

As a result, it is imperative to have a clear strategy that is understood by everybody involved. Our Guide To Delivering Superior Patient Experience In Private Practice continues as Jane Braithwaite shows how to get started or review and evolve your current offering.

Tips for staying secure while working from home. Remote working opens great possibilities for flexible working practices, but it also significantly raises the risk from cyber threats and data breaches, warns IT director Murray Hart.

Now re-organise your private practice to best advantage, post Covid-19. Stephanie Carmichael shows how. 

As growing numbers of independent practitioners move closer to resuming private practice, Prof David Gartry shares his story. 

Ten billing rules to ensure your practice recovers. Words of wisdom from Medical Billing and Collection’s Simon Brignall.

Change is inevitable. Cavendish Medical’s Dr Benjamin Holdsworth shows why diversification in your investments will mean not missing the next Amazon. 

The CQC regulates you, but who regulates the regulator? Hempsons solicitor Philippa Doyle says if you get a bad report – and they are still coming through – then make sure you challenge it.

Covid-19’s impact will be felt for some time to come, so for those starting out in private practice – or needing a review – it will be a tougher environment. Account­ant Ian Tongue prescribes some financial considerations for success.