Since the introduction of the new GP Contract, practices have been moving inexorably towards a more business-focused model. This development has corresponded with a greater emphasis on optimising costs, increasing output, placing a greater emphasis on staff and patient relations and, crucially, maximising revenue streams.
This situation is more acute than ever given the primary care funding crisis. Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum in London, Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, said that general practice had been “systematically mugged” by the rest of the NHS over the past decade, as resources had been cut by 25% while demand increased substantially.
Aside from the obvious areas such as increasing patient lists, improving revenue comes from maximising opportunities, which could include exploiting potential income sources such as the provision of private medical consultations, offering external training and sharing/letting part of the practice’s premises.
Outside of the areas that the CCG or NHS England commission, here are some suggestions for ways you can earn more income for your practice:
Minor surgery and enhanced services
Minor surgery in primary care has long been held to be cost-effective and popular with patients – and it can bring in extra revenue. The Royal College of General Practitioners, among others, run one- and two-day training courses for GPs which open up plenty of additional revenue streams. This is all about maximising revenue from the enhanced services that you are able to offer and NHS healthchecks.
Do you have spare rooms? Could you let these out? For example, you could rent out space to a local slimming club or providers of authorised, certificated alternative healthcare services that your patients use. Keeping services close together has benefits so it makes sense.
Medical reports and fees
It can be lucrative for practices to produce medical reports and manage the administrative process effectively. Reports need to be of high quality to ensure repeat business and value for money for the patient/organisation requesting them, but practical steps can also be followed to improve the process. As well as offering a convenient service for your registered patients who may wish to have a medical, local companies and insurance providers might also have a need for medicals.
The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) is the annual reward and incentive programme detailing GP practice achievement results – and practices should look at relevant work that ensures QOF revenue is maximised. QOF awards surgeries achievement points for:
- managing some of the most common chronic diseases, e.g. asthma, diabetes
- implementing preventative measures, e.g. regular blood pressure checks
- the extra services offered such as child health care and maternity services
- the quality and productivity of the service, including the avoidance of emergency admissions to hospital
- compliance with the minimum time a GP should spend with each patient at each appointment
While administering travel vaccines is commonplace, could you go one step further and offer non-NHS funded travel jabs? The world has never been smaller when it comes to travel, with people jetting off to all manner of exotic locations – which means they need travel medicines and advice. Could you profit from becoming a yellow fever centre? Could you market a service that includes giving detailed advice on travel health and is much more than just an ‘injection’ service?
If you’re not already a training practice could you become one? If you are already a training practice are there more training opportunities that you could take advantage of? Opportunities exist to train GP registrars and GP students as well as nurse students who go on placements.
Links with schools
A practice made the news recently when they started delivering presentations in local schools – funded by its local CCG. Schools are also known to pay for practice staff to promote better health with both students and parents, allowing key healthcare messages to be shared.
Why leave the health messages with just schools? Would local businesses pay for an occupational health service? According to one practice in Lancashire, it was relatively simple for one of its GPs to obtain an occupational health diploma and the introduction of the service has generated healthy regular income. It has also reduced employee absenteeism so has saved the companies paying for the service too!
These are just some of the ways a GP practice can increase revenue. In a future blog post we’ll take a look at ways to improve efficiency and make practice revenues go further.
How are you generating revenue for your practice? Comment below or take it to the forum where your discussions are only seen by other Practice Index members.