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The importance of setting personal and financial targets for GPs

Mr Paul Redmond gives tips on how to set achievable business goals for your medical practice

Managing a medical practice is hard work – harder than most of us can even imagine – and many practice owners put in massive amounts of effort to make sure their business thrives. Having a clear objective can help you implement the right strategies and can give you the right direction. This may make running a medical practice a little bit easier.

Whether you are setting up a new practice or you have been running a successful practice for years, focussing on what you want to achieve is critical to your success.

Each year you encourage your patients to get a check-up. You complete the standard checks and watch out for signs that things need closer inspection. As a business owner either self-employed or in a partnership, are you too busy to do the same for yourself? How much time are you spending working in the practice as opposed to working on the practice?

Without goals, your practice can lack growth and direction. Setting effective goals both personally and for the practice can put you in the driver’s seat and give you the power to steer your practice in whatever direction you desire.

So, what can be the specific goals of your medical practice? Here are a few ideas of personal goals and objectives that you can aim for.

Are you getting what you want from the practice in terms of your financial return?

Are you planning for your retirement so that you can at least retire with some form of income that resembles your current spending?

When was the last time you reviewed your partnership agreement?

Are there any issues with the partners that have never been addressed?

Do you understand the implications of your partnership agreement?

Have you made a will for the practice? What will happen if you get sick or die, how will your family be looked after?

Have you put a succession plan in place?

Is your life cover in place and if so, does it need adjusting?

Have you reviewed your pension in detail and included your GMS pension?

Are all staff helping the practice in areas you want them to?

Have you reviewed each member of staff in terms of training and development?

You should set a deadline on your income tax to be completed by 30 June.

How much do you need to increase your mortgage payments to reduce the term by one month?

What is your practice worth and can you take some tax advantage from this?

What does the cashflow in the practice look like?

Are you doing everything possible to save money and help your practice consistently achieve success?

What reports are you getting on a regular basis from the practice and more importantly what are you doing with them?

Is there a system in place which provides you with all the financial information regarding your practice?

When setting your goals, it would be a good idea to plan for potential obstacles. Taking this approach will help you stay prepared when the unexpected challenges arise.

Identifying obstacles and challenges can also tell you whether or not a goal is achievable. If your goal is to save €10,000 a month and this turns out to be unrealistic then you can filter that goal to something that is more attainable.

For example, you could develop a plan to improve employee satisfaction. This might help you decrease hiring expenses and ensure that your most valued employees remain with your practice. Although many practices will offer staff monetary compensation for a job well done, improving satisfaction doesn’t have to be expensive. Offering and paying for training, extra time off or more flexible schedules can make employees feel more valued.

No matter how large or small your practice, setting annual goals and objectives is an excellent way to meet the needs of patients and staff and exceed expectations to thrive all year.

Finally, here are four final tips on setting goals:

1. Don’t set too many. Two or three meaningful goals for the year will keep you busy enough.

2. Whatever goals you set make them ambitious enough to be engaging, but not so aggressive that they feel unrealistic or out of reach.

3. Write the goals down and review them regularly.

4. Attach a date to all the goals. A goal without a date is not a goal… it’s just a dream.

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