- Posted Monday August 1, 2016
As the complexity of primary care finance and logistics becomes ever more byzantine, it's essential to have someone in place who has a very firm hand on the business tiller and whose commercial expertise allows GPs to get on with the clinical job in hand.
An astute, committed practice manager makes a massive difference to both the business and clinical sides of a practice’s operations, and keeping them happy and incentivised should be a practice priority.
One way of achieving this that we've seen more and more frequently in the last couple of years, and which recognises the contribution that practice managers make, is to invite them to become a partner - and while it's still not very common, all of the examples that we have seen come to fruition have been very successful.
Technically speaking, there's no difference between clinical and non-clinical staff becoming a partner in a primary care practice, but there are a few practical differences that need to be taken account of to give such an arrangement the best chance of success.
As with the formation of any partnership agreement, a clear, open conversation on what both sides would want from and could bring to such a relationship should be the starting point.
All red-line issues need to be clearly covered off from the beginning from all sides, as there's no point wasting everyone's time if there are things that will make any agreement a non-starter that could be identified early in the process.
Practice managers also need to fully comprehend the way in which partnerships actually work, such as the fact that becoming a partner would make them self-employed, rather than employed by the practice. Also, it must be made very clear that the value of the profit share from which they will derive their future income can go up and down.
The different levels of profit share that the GPs and practice manager are likely to receive should also be agreed.
In theory, a practice manager could receive their P45 and sign a partner agreement on the same day, but it's likely to require a bit more time and careful consideration than that, and it makes sense for all parties to talk to professional advisors about things like the tax implications of these arrangements, as well as the general ways in which it will impact on their earnings.
In practices where the PM has become a partner, the increased incentive that it has provided has seen all of them record an increase in profitability, which in turn feeds back to both partner earnings and the services that the practice can provide.
It's a move that won't be for everyone, but in situations where losing a well-regarded practice manager would make things difficult for practice operations, there's no harm in considering making the practice manager a partner - and helping cement a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.
Specialist medical accountants at RMT offer medical professionals advice and guidance that is tailored to the unique monetary and legislative environment in which healthcare industry workers live. For more information visit their website.