COVID-19 has asked a lot of us. We have had to take quick and decisive action in several key areas of the business. We have placed several projects on hold and refined our operations to prioritise safety above all else. Throughout this process of moment to moment decision-making, we have learnt a lot as a practice, and stood tall as responsible and safety-aware citizens of our medical neighbourhood.
In this update, I’ll be sharing the three things that I believe have kept us going and growing, and some thoughts around our future direction as a practice.
1. A Cohesive Team
We have discovered how closely our success as a business is linked to our cohesiveness and psychology as a team. In a world dominated by uncertainty, we have had to find new ways to offer safety, hope and inspiration to our patients and to each other. We have had candid conversations about our individual vulnerabilities, and have consistently brought our full and authentic selves to work. This openness and humanity that exists within our workplace has meant that we have all had moments of deep connection with each other and by extension, this has enhanced our capacity to connect deeply with our patients.
2. A Focus on Kindness
Gurleen and I have had conversations with our team, our patients and our community regarding what you are doing to take care of yourselves during this challenging time. It has been reassuring to see a common thread emerging of the “one thing” you do to stay grounded (your “anchor”). Overwhelmingly, you have taught us what it means to be kind to your self and to others.
In this spirit, we have adopted our own self-care habits. Personally, I took up the challenge to run 100km in the month of July, and used my morning run as my consistent daily ritual. Having dedicated the last few years to lifting weights and quick bursts of cardiovascular exercise, running was quite foreign to me, and the prospect of running 3 to 5km each day almost insurmountable. However, by taking on and successfully completing the challenge with a day to spare, I taught my mind that even the toughest mental barriers can be overcome. I have continued this healthy habit and now channel this energy into showing up in the right way each day for my team, my patients, my community and my family.
By modelling healthful behaviours within and outside of the workplace, we can all work together to build a culture where self-care and self-compassion are valued, encouraged and commonplace. We are well placed to facilitate the extension of this culture into the lives of our patients, so that they see us not only as trusted advisors, but as health role models. Indeed, it is difficult for us to counsel our patients about behaviours that we ourselves do not practice.
3. A Clear and Compelling Vision
In a world seemingly dominated by fear and uncertainty, it is not uncommon for feelings of helplessness and hopelessness to surface. Finding clarity amidst chaos is extraordinarily challenging, particularly when coupled with the grim reality that others have lost so, so much to, or through, this pandemic.
Why are we here? Why do we get up in the morning? What drives us? These are the questions that we have needed to ask constantly throughout the last few months. The antidote to burnout is a compelling vision of the future, and we would like that future to be the embodiment of our core values, our dreams and our aspirations. At its foundation, breathing life into our vision must enable us to positively and proactively impact the lives of the people we exist to serve.
Are our core values, compassion and innovation, still relevant today? I believe they are, and will explore this in a subsequent article.
Where to next?
During our first year at Rosedale, Gurleen and I invested heavily in the domain of engaged leadership. Our team, patients and community have come forward to welcome us with open arms as the new leaders of the practice.
We are proud to have built upon our credibility and brand as a business, and have established a strong online presence and digital footprint. COVID-19 has accelerated our uptake of health technology, and we are now well placed to deliver care virtually. We started our journey wanting to do away with the fax and with paper, and COVID-19 taught us that even bricks and mortar are optional. We still believe that the heart of general practice is in relationship-based, in-person care. However the unique opportunity to take care to our patients has renewed our commitment to providing “Care Outside the Box”.
In line with our vision, we have built our reputation as a world-class provider of health care, as a great place to work for our team, and as a quality training practice for our medical students from Macquarie University, Western Sydney University and University of Sydney.
We have also implemented key population health programs. We have partnered with Western Sydney Diabetes to offer Diabetes Case Conferences to our patients, and have grown our practice’s relationship with our Primary Health Networks – WentWest and Sydney North Health Network. We are in discussions with our local partners about our involvement in new and innovative programs such as HeartConnect, and expect to add even greater value to the services we are able to offer our patient population.
Importantly, our participation in these projects is grounded in our principled approach. We stand for a higher purpose – with everything we do, we aim to improve the lives of our patients, our team and our community. We lean into compassion and innovation as both our core values and our key strategic levers. However, if we are to continue to grow as a business, we need to have a clear picture of what success in these two areas look like, and define some key metrics around this.
We recognise “that the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. We stand by our desire to be the best in the world when it comes to innovation and compassion. As we gain further clarity and understanding of our shared purpose, we accept that our focus may evolve or transform. We also recognise the key area in which we are consistently outperformed by our competitors – convenience.
During the pandemic, we have been particularly conscious of our limited resources, and have leaned into our strategy of doing the best that we can for our current patients, ensuring their care is managed proactively, holistically and comprehensively. Our data so far has suggested that we have excelled in key areas such as the delivery of influenza vaccines to our most vulnerable patients.
It is very easy to brush the idea of convenience aside, and I have found myself a few times saying that we are not a “convenience” practice. However, on the flip side of convenience is access. And it is absolutely a problem when our patients are unable to access their healthcare team, particularly at a time that health care is in such great need. So increasingly we do recognise this as a problem that we need to address.
We recognise that in our efforts to provide comprehensive and personalised care to our patients we often run late. This is also unacceptable and disrespectful to our patients who we understand live very busy lives. We would like to say that we respect your time. More than this, we would like to show you that we respect your time and we would like to take very deliberate action to ensure that this is an area in which we can improved.
But we can’t improve what we don’t measure, and so during the month of August, we will be focusing our attention on “building block two” – data-driven improvement. We will set out a number of key metrics and use data to drive insights and further improvements in the way we manage our business and care for our patients. We look forward to sharing these insights with you, our valued community, in our next update.
Rosedale Medical Practice will no longer be offering face to face appointments. There will be very few exceptions to this, which will need to be considered on an individual, case-by-case basis.
Effectively immediately, if you are booking an appointment with our practice, you will be offered a Telehealth phone consultation. For the next 6 months, telephone consults will be the default appointment type. If you have already booked a face to face consult, we ask that you reconsider the need to visit us in person.
For patients that require video consults, these will be offered by Dr Saini and may be extended to other doctors if needed.
We don’t want people to avoid medical care, but avoiding the surgery when possible is a very good idea. You could be at risk of becoming unwell from people that are carrying the virus but are otherwise well. We call this asymptomatic transmission.
Reducing the amount of physical visits to our practice will help us to provide face to face care for things such as wound dressings, childhood immunisations and other medical necessities. If you feel that you require a face-to-face visit with your GP, please call our reception on 02 9680 9644 to discuss this.
Throw back to 1985 – a scene remembered by many as one of the most heartbreaking in Australian television history – Molly Jones of A Country Practice (played by Anne Tenney) would die of leukaemia, while lying on a couch in the garden watching Brendan play with their daughter Chloe.
35 years on, we reflect on the heritage of the beautiful home we now call Rosedale Medical Practice West Pennant Hills. We reflect on the values of #kindness, #love, #humanity, #friendship, #life, #resilience, that continue to live on to this day. There is something truly magical about serving our fellow humans from the house that Molly once called her home.
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we didn’t know
The kindness that was hers to spare
The joy that she took everywhere
We simply didn’t know.
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we hadn’t heard
How she could fight to save a flower,
And give each man and dog his hour
We simply hadn’t heard.
“Mad”, we said, “Mad Molly Jones”
But then we hadn’t seen
That she could make a dull day bright,
That she was colour, warmth, and light
We simply hadn’t seen.
Molly Jones, it’s over
Yet we cannot say goodbye
For all the loveliness we knew
And love of life and friendship true
And laughter brave once dwelt in you
And how can such things die?
Rosedale Medical Practice West Pennant Hills welcomes all new and existing patients. You can book an appointment today by calling (02) 9680 9644, or alternatively using our convenient HotDoc app.￼
Where do I start? There was so much value in this fireside chat with Kelly Chard, Merryn Thomae and Dinesh Palipana.
2020 has been a really hard year. It has “helped us examine our values and ask some really hard questions.” (Dr Palipana).
We’ve seen a cultural shift towards becoming a “caring community”, better able to care for ourselves in addition to our patients and clients. 2020 has fostered a “new ability to reach out and ask for help and ask for support” (Dr Thomae)
We’ve also seen a paradigm shift in the way we see health care teams. In health care team 3.0, our accountants and IT professionals are important members of our TEAM. They play a key role in helping us to understand our business environment, respond to threats and opportunities, and take even better care of our patients by expanding our focus to both business AND clinical excellence.
And this was just a small part of our conversation.
We appreciate the additional rebates that were available to our patients during the early stages of COVID-19. Whilst small, they allowed us to absorb some of the costs of providing a high quality medical service and offer bulk-billed Telehealth services to our most vulnerable patients.
We acknowledge and respect that these were temporary measures, and have been removed as of today.
As a result of this, we will be moving back to our normal fee structures. That is, all face to face, and Telehealth phone and video consults will be billed at our normal fees. We will continue to bulk-bill Pension card holders and children under the age of 5 years.
As a practice, we value the safety and care of our patients above all else. We remain committed to providing the highest standards of health care, whether this is face to face, over the phone or via video.
We are also aware that COVID-19 has affected our community in various ways.
We acknowledge that our patients experience health care physically, psychologically, socially, financially and in other ways. We are committed to stepping forward, leaning in and participating in new solutions to new problems as we navigate a new world.
If you are affected financially as a result of COVID-19, we may be able to consider alternative financial arrangements for you. Please feel free to speak to our practice manager to discuss your concerns. You can organise a time to speak with our practice manager, Gurleen, by calling reception on 02 9680 9644.
Written by Dr Jaspreet Saini for GPRA GP Registrar magazine
General practice is not a career I had aspired towards. Living away from home whilst a university student, I was quite dismayed by the quality of general practitioners I had seen at the times that I had found myself to be unwell. General practice certainly did not carry the allure of the specialties, and I had frequently come across the cringe-worthy term, ‘just a GP’.
Reflecting back on my first year as a private practice professional, I am quite surprised at the way my attitude has changed by my association with some absolutely incredible role models at Kable Street General Practice and Kellyville Family Medical Practice.
Here are my top tips for GP registrars starting in the training program:
Not all conversations in general practice need to happen on the same day. Build doctor-patient relationships by following up and asking patients to come back.
Treat receptionists well – if they like you as a person, they won’t hesitate to book more patients into your list.
Get on side with your RTP staff – get to know their names and help them to learn yours.
Never expect to be able to predict how your next consultation will pan out. Even if you think you know the patient well, you will never cease to be surprised by what they might come in to talk to you about.
Balance is key – balance family time with work time. Being able to do so is one of the greatest benefits of general practice.
Get involved with outside interests – join a GPRA working group or participate in education and research. Doing so helps to keep clinical practice relevant. Don’t forget to maintain a hobby and have a life (and friends) outside of the dreaded “medicine bubble”/
Find yourself good mentors – they will help you realise the diverse roles of a GP. My supervisors are life coaches, diagnosticians, surgeons, educators, friends and all-around good people.
Study is never an excuse not to exercise. The John Murtagh Library contains the Audio Digest Lecture Series. Get a good pair of headphones and listen to some of these while you’re at the gym or taking a walk around the block.
Sitting jobs make for a sedentary lifestyle. Keep healthy by varying your work routine. You are allowed to stand up and move around while consulting. Say yes to procedures to get yourself out of your chair.
Define your value. As a GP you are a professional. Your time is a very valuable asset. Evaluate and recognise your worth when charging patients in a private billing practice.
Treat kids well and make sure they leave the room happy. You may find that the rest of the family puts their trust in you as a doctor or that other parents will bring their children in to see you. This is a great way to build up your patient base.
Appreciate the business side of general practice. Get to know your practice manager well and offer useful suggestions that you think will add value to the practice.
Do as many courses as possible – RACGPoffers a host of fantastic courses that run throughout the year.
Get involved and have fun. You are in one of the most exciting professions there is. Christmas time? Help reception staff to put up some decorations to make the practice livelier during the festive season.
Get to know the other registrars and start studying early. Get yourself a study group or study partner to make this process easier.
Being able to practise as a GP is an incredible gift. You will learn to cherish the profession and every day will bring something new that will help you to grow as a person and as a professional.
Congratulations on choosing such a rewarding profession. I wish you all the very best.
Our medical student from Macquarie University has just completed her placement with us, and had this lovely message to share.
It is a privilege for us as a practice to contribute to the development of the next generation of doctors.
We would like to thank our patients for being so welcoming and encouraging.
It takes a village to raise a doctor, and being able to learn from you and participate in your care provides our students with an extraordinary opportunity to grow into the type of doctors that will go on to make a genuine difference in the lives of others, as well as find meaning and joy in their own careers.
Whilst it has been a rather odd time in our history, our student learnt that care never stops, team work makes the dream work and that there are many ways to practice medicine!
Getting into the spirit of #CrazySocks4Docs Day today, with our fabulous receptionists Denise and Cristina stealing the show. The last few months have seen an extraordinary amount of change and our ladies have kept their head held high amidst the numerous challenges that have come their way. Team work makes the dream work!
Rosedale Medical Practice prides itself on providing “high performing primary care” with four key principles at its foundation:
✅ Engaged Leadership ✅ Data-driven Improvement that respects the privacy and confidentiality of our patients ✅ Empanelment ✅ Team-Based Care
By the end of April 2020, we provided influenza vaccines to 79.03% of our active patients over the age of 65. This means that we exceeded the average for our region by a solid 20.25%.
What does this mean for you?
Your journey doesn’t stop when you leave our practice. Neither should your health care. Our ‘Care Outside the Box’ philosophy is a commitment to reach outside the four walls of our practice, and provide you with all the resources that you and your family need to make the right decisions for your health.
We will continue to share our approach with you through updates to our website as well as our Facebook posts. Stay tuned.