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Practice manager critical role in change management

You are an agent of change

The practice manager has a critical role in facilitating change management. The manager is often referred to as the 'agent of change' and is required to use their leadership and management skills to steer the practice and the staff through periods of change. By nature, many people do respond in a positive way to change. Yet it’s important to recognise that they need to be led through the process so that fear is allayed and a coherent practice team works to achieve the desired outcome.

The development stage of the practice (new, consolidating, expanding) will determine the nature and scope of change you may be experiencing. New or expanding practice may have a number of projects running simultaneously while an established efficient practice may have little need for major change.

Staff and change

If your staff have been involved in the creation of the practice business plan, they are likely to have an understanding around the basis of the proposed change and how it will benefit the practice.

Examples of a possible major change in the practice would include:

  • change in equipment used
  • change in procedures
  • emergence of a threat to the practice
  • relocation of the practice
  • new principal or new doctor
  • departure of long standing staff member/doctor
  • achievement of a major milestone.

One of the most significant changes in a practice would be a change to practice clinical and practice management software. There are a number of topics within this site that may help:

Any of the above changes or similar types of changes within a practice require a significant commitment to communicating and involvement of staff in the whole process; from decision making to software implementation.

The best way to initiate involvement of staff is to inform staff at a staff meeting or prepare a document that will outline the proposed change. Staff meetings allow staff members to be advised of a change as early as possible and provide the opportunity for everyone to ask questions about a change or make comment on what is presented. In larger practices, such a forum reduces the problem of people at lower levels not being aware of what is happening with major issues. There may be a requirement for small working parties or nominated staff members to assist in the project development. Do not be afraid to use staff skills to support the project as required; involvement of staff can have a positive contribution around acceptance of change.

Communicating change

Communicating the information to staff can take the form a 'briefing document' combined with responsible for managing the project. The briefing would include a 10-15 minute presentation usually with three to five main points in which the subject is presented to staff members.

In larger practices, each of the people attending a management briefing provides a similar briefing to their own staff and reports back to the management team the outcome of discussions.

  • The briefing notes include:
  • what the changes are
  • how people will be affected
  • how operations will be affected
  • how long the project will take to complete.

At the end of the briefing, all attendees are asked for any questions and following any answering of questions, all attendees are asked for comments.

Agreed actions arising from the discussion are recorded for implementation.

Throughout the life of the project, staff are kept informed on a regular basis. As milestones are achieved, you may wish to celebrate these amongst the team.

You will also be required to provide practice principals with regular reports around the project and these would include time, personnel, equipment and financial issues.

Resistance to change

There can be resistance to change in a practice and the thinking “we’ve always done it this way!” still exists. By following the strategies above, this resistance can be converted to embracing change and positive outcomes for the practice.

Next page

Appointment systems
  • General overview
  • Informed patients
  • Triage
  • The art of appointment scheduling
  • Time management
  • Non-attendance of patients
  • Recording and monitoring patient attendance
  • Improve your practice
  • Computerised appointment systems
  • Paper-based appointment systems

This publication is proudly brought to you by Avant Mutual Group. The content was authored by Brett McPherson, reviewed by Colleen Sullivan and Avant Mutual Group.

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2014.

IMPORTANT: Professional indemnity insurance products and Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Policy are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and PDS, which is available at or by contacting us on 1800 128 268. Practices need to consider other forms of insurance including directors’ and officers’ liability, public and products liability, property and business interruption insurance, and workers compensation and you should contact your insurance broker for more information. Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Any advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the product is appropriate for you before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us.