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Episode 17

Innovation in general practice

Show notes

Welcome to Generally Speaking, the conversation for all GPs.

Join GPs Dr Gill Singleton and Dr Billy Stoupas as they discuss some of the most pressing topics and issues surrounding the operations of a general practice.

This time, Dr Stoupas and Dr Singleton discuss the ins and outs of innovation with relation to general practice. They are joined by Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AC who is a master of innovation and experienced GP practising at the Altona Medical Group and Cirqithealth in Melbourne. Belinda Hegarty, who is the National Head of Healthcare and Professional Services at Commonwealth Bank, also joins the conversation.

21 October 2020 - 12:21 PM | 26 min 24 sec

(002:26) Ms Hegarty and Dr Haikerwal expand on their arrears and motivation for being a champion of the innovation cause.

(04:41) Ms Hegarty gives her perspective and an overview of the situation in the industry in light of COVID-19. She touches on aged care which inspires a point to be raised by Dr Stoupas and further commentary from Ms Hegarty. Dr Stoupas notes that only a limited number of nursing homes or aged care facilities did a particularly poor job of managing the outbreak. Many kept the numbers down but that wasn’t broadly reported.

(07:56) Dr Haikerwal responds to Dr Stoupas about the impact of the pandemic on various types of practices. He covers all manner of topics from how the initial deluge of phone calls were dealt with, to security and safety at the practice, to the creation of drive-thru testing sites. He goes on to elaborate on the sorts of clinics that have experienced downturns to the issues surrounding acute and chronic illness, potential cancers etc, not being diagnosed early as a result of COVID-19.

(13:23) Ms Hegarty responds to Dr Singleton on the topic of creating business growth in our ‘new normal’. She mentions the AGP Insights Report, which is coming out at the end of October and highlights a couple of findings. One is the growth in telehealth and another is the importance of having a business plan. While it seems basic, many GPs don’t actually have one and this could get in the way of a clinic’s potential for growth.

(15:45) Dr Haikerwal follows on with a prompt from Dr Stoupas on strategies to generate more income. He outlines many ways that his clinic and innovation lab have seen a need in the community and then responded before there may have in fact been a financial reward readily available. But the way he looks at it, these innovations paid dividends down the track.

(19:13) Ms Hegarty discusses the pros and cons of corporate practices over small independent clinics when it comes to responding to recent challenges. She notes that being nimble and responsive is sometimes the advantage of the independent clinics, where the corporate ones often have more resources to call on when needed.

(20:04) Dr Haikerwal comments on the thought that crisis is often the mother of innovation. He acknowledges that this is often the case but that it doesn’t have to be. The philosophy of his innovation lab and his approach to problem solving has meant that they are often ‘shovel ready’ to deal with issues when they come to a head. So, while a lot of change and innovation was driven by the big stick of COVID-19, the benefit of a more pre-emptive approach is a profession that hopefully works more efficiently and serves the community better.

(23:50) Following some final remarks from Ms Hegarty on the changing expectations of the public when it comes to access to healthcare, the conversation wraps up and everyone graciously acknowledges each other’s contributions.

(24:40) Dr Singleton and Dr Stoupas offer their final thoughts regarding the achievements of Dr Haikerwal and the themes from the discussion.

  • Information from Future Practice about building a sustainable practice and making a difference to patients through the lens of innovation can be found here.

‘My message really is, don’t be scared to innovate. It may not be part of the funding model but if you do that, it will have some payback because you’re more effective, you’re more efficient, you’re involving more people, you’ve got more of a team around you’re feeling more comfortable.’
– Dr Mukesh Haikerwal

‘How do they stay abreast of what these patient expectations are and how do they bring them in their business? One of the things we always say is, you should start by having a business plan so you should be really looking then trying to understand where is your business today and where does it needs to go?’
– Ms Belinda Hegarty

  • If you would like to learn more about Dr Mukesh Haikerwal and his story, visit his Wikipedia page or his RACGP profile
  • If you would like to learn more about Belinda Hegarty’s experience and insights, or would like to connect, visit her LinkedIn
  • If you would like to learn more about Dr Gill Singleton’s achievements and insights, or would like to connect, please visit her LinkedIn
  • If you would like to learn more about Dr Billy Stoupas’ achievements and insights, or would like to connect, please visit Billy's website
Resources referred to in the Generally Speaking podcast and on the website are views of the hosts and not necessarily endorsed by RACGP.

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