With a foot in two camps in my roles as GP and Clinical Director at Eva Health Technologies, I see across the acute and undeniable challenges for GPs and the entrepreneurial spirit of healthtech start-ups who are trying to help make a difference to the way we work.
The recent Health Foundation report provided a robust albeit bleak analysis of the state of General Practice in the UK. This will resonate with clinicians who might currently feel like we are in a deep pit, with steep, slippery sides and no obvious way out. In times of immense challenge comes huge opportunity. We are forced to think differently. Perhaps this is the time to borrow from the start-up approach to rethink our strategy as GP’s and find our ladder out of this pit..?
The report details the findings of a large international study that showed UK GPs to be among the most stressed and overworked of the almost 10,000 family doctors surveyed across 10 high income countries. Bad news. The origins are no doubt multifaceted. A few significant contributors include the lasting effects of the pandemic which has taken its toll and left many feeling deeply tired. There are concerns regarding the quality of care that we are able to provide. With ballooning workloads and diminishing workforce the situation is set to worsen before it improves. At times it may feel like we are stuck in a system that is providing substandard care and this risks worsening burnout as part of this downward spiral.
We’ve already tried working faster, harder and longer in response to the heavy workload and stressors. The circumstances might alternatively be the nudge needed, not for organisational reshuffling but a meaningful course correction. Something much more likely to yield the results we want, doubling down on what matters to us most.
As semi-autonomous small to medium enterprises (SMEs), often employing somewhere between 50 and 120 employees, with turnover in £1m+ territory, General Practices are certainly of a similar scale. Then there’s the decision-making. Join our practice meetings on a Friday morning at 7.30am, the caffeine consumption and the pace of decision-making matches that in most start-ups!
In the corporate world including healthtech start-ups there’s an unflinching focus on Mission, Vision, Values. It may sound like management nonsense to the uninitiated but bear with me. If we were to take a moment to reflect on what we hold to be our purpose in General Practice, we might set our sights on our vision:
Provide safe, accessible healthcare with a trusted team
We then use this as a lens through which we can see our decisions and prioritisation. When we are making any decisions, from strategic to a practical level, we can think how this will allow us to progress our vision further..?
How does this help me work more safely?
- Should we look to reduce our hours? Or patient contacts?
- Can we work to reduce interruptions?
- What jobs that we currently do could be handed over to someone else?
How can our service be more accessible?
- Should we take on more staff? What about the ARRS (additional roles reimbursement scheme) folks like pharmacists, paramedics and mental health practitioners?
- Are phone lines, walk ins and digital appointment bookings equally available?
- How does the extra capacity from weekend opening affect our access?
How can we know if our patients trust us and keep improving?
- Should we measure our continuity of care as a proxy for trust?
- Redo our patient satisfaction surveys?
Ultimately there is much that lies outside of our control, but our best chance to navigate a path to the future we want, is to focus all our attention and efforts on that which matters most to us and those we care about.
I believe that learning from the best aspects of entrepreneurship and reshaping our frame of reference by working more closely with start-ups and scale-ups in healthtech could help us in two ways. Both to access more modern, reliable and productivity-enhancing tech to use day-to-day, and help us embrace a culture change that could put GPs back on a path to revival.
To learn more about Eva and find out how we can help you, get in touch today.