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Privately owned and operated by doctors, GPs on Curzon (or ‘GPOC’ as the team affectionately refer to themselves) is a full-service medical practice located on Curzon Street, East Toowoomba.

Their team of nurses, doctors and practice staff provide a whole host of services (from employment medicals through to travel medicine), with their clear focus being “Caring For The Needs Of Our Community”.

Recently, GPOC was recognised by HealthEngine users as one of Australia’s Top 100 GPs for 2017 – a testament to the quality of service, patient communication and clinical care they provide.

We wanted to find out more about the secrets to their success, so we asked their long-standing Practice Manager, Bec, “How did you do it?”. That sparked a conversation about overcoming the challenges of taking over a practice and making it thrive through 5 key focus areas (including excellent patient communication)!

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Takeover Challenges

When a busy reception phone isn’t always a good thing:

Dr Rachael Gray and Dr Diana Sampson took over the Queensland practice back in 2014. The phone was ringing consistently, but they just didn’t have the staff to handle the volume.

Patients were spending too much time on hold and reception staff couldn’t catch a breath. They worried that this experience would alienate pre-existing patients and deter new patients from visiting the practice.

Aware something needed to change, they implemented an Online Booking System. As a result, the team could manage their booking volumes, the reception staff could breathe and everyone could go back to the what they were good at – fulfilling patient needs.

They focussed on 5 key areas to ensure they achieved this mission:

1. Gathering Feedback

The team at GPOC are always looking for feedback. They keep a suggestion box and actively encourage patients to submit feedback.

Aside from ensuring that patients know they’re being heard, when accreditation comes around, this focus on feedback gathering pays off.

They also find that feedback helps with team building, as everyone in the practice is motivated by positive testimonials.

2. Sharing good news

When GPOC was recognised by HealthEngine users, they knew this was an honour their patients had bestowed on them for offering exceptional care. They shared the news across their website and Facebook page.

GPOC also keep a news section on their website. Here they share everything from charities that they are involved with, to newly hired staff people will meet in the practice.

3. Two-way Patient Communication

Listening, learning and keeping patients in the loop is key.

Having a feel for what patients need is the most important thing to GPOC when it comes to keeping patients happy and returning.

Listening intently to patient feedback has also taught the practice staff what matters to the community. They make a point of communicating expectations, making patients aware of wait times by sending a text message, even letting them know there is a coffee shop just up the road if there will be a bit of a wait.

They are deliberate about following up often with all of their patients to ensure care needs are met.

4. “Every day go the extra mile.”

Bec, the GPOC Practice Manager, shared this story with us as a typical example of GPOC staff going above and beyond:

“We’re located in a big medical centre (three floors). Underneath is paid parking. Gates come down at 5:30pm so it’s locked there until the morning. We had a patient unexpectedly sent by ambulance to the hospital and they were nervous about the parking bill being overwhelming (as they had only paid for 2 hours). One of the GPOC nurses drove the patient’s car home that night and even picked up the parking bill.”

This is typical of the kind of things the GPOC staff are happy to do to help out their patients.

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5. Investing in the right technology

GPOC started out using HealthEngine Online Bookings to manage their booking volumes and cut down on phone calls. This provided a positive patient experience.

They were then able to start marketing the practice to attract new patients who would benefit from their range of services, from pre-natal through to end-of-life care. GPOC upgraded to a Professional Profile listing on HealthEngine, and are also using Patient Match to ensure that the right patients find them in their moment of need.

The Result:

New processes led to new, local patients.

Following the practice takeover and implementation of new systems as outlined above, the GPOC team noticed the patient demographic expanding. They saw an increase in young families booking (who love the convenience of being able to use a booking app to schedule an appointment during a 4am breastfeeding!).

The convenience of the online bookings has allowed GPOC to further deepen their connection with patients. They find it drives continuity of care by encouraging patients to easily book an appointment at the practice. The team have built up a broad, loyal and happy patient base.

We asked Bec two more questions before she went back to looking after GPOC’s community:

What advice do you have for a practice that is trying to improve or understand their patient journey?

“Communicate. Don’t leave patients in the dark. Embrace technology and the ability to utilise what you can to communicate with your patients, always keeping privacy in mind.”

What would happen if HealthEngine were to disappear from your practice tomorrow?

“Panic! We would have to hire more admin staff to take the calls. We could actually lose business because all the patients are so used to booking online. Our paper bill would go up!”

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