All MHM clients are very dedicated individuals. Having spent approximately 15 years of training and finally becoming a consultant surgeon, they go on to work incredibly long hours.
All at some point, however, have taken the decision to start a private practice. It’s unlikely they would be my clients otherwise if you think about it. They start a private practice because they wish to make more money. To have any other objective is either (a) silly or (b) engaging in self-delusion. There is no shame in admitting you start a private practice to make money.
At that point however your private practice becomes a business.
As I’ve blogged many times previously, it must be run as a business. A business with more than a little social conscience but nonetheless still a business. Yet, sadly, many consultant surgeons make the mistake of believing their practice will grow. It will make them rich if they continue doing what they love they do. Sadly that is not true.
That means, as much as you love being a Private Consultant Surgeon, you must measure the performance of your business. This is the point the private consultant learns to understand financial numbers. It’s not all that complicated. Supplying data to your accountant every year isn’t the same as understanding the numbers behind your practice though.
Let me give you a real example. I was contacted recently by an established private surgeon. He claimed to be working all the hours God sends but said he was always broke. It didn’t take long to work out why. The first indicator was a complete lack of financial analysis other than a tax report a little over one-year-old. No debtors ledger was available. So the surgeon didn’t have any real idea how much he was owed. It transpired both patients and insurance companies were only invoiced monthly.
So I took the last six months’ worth of clinic lists and checked how many had not been invoiced. Quite a lot had not. I did the same with surgical episodes with the same result. This was followed by an investigation into how much had not been paid even if invoiced.
But it was also a simple case of adding up the total revenue generated for each month, calculating the total costs (room rental, monthly indemnity insurance premiums, secretarial costs, etc) and subtracting one from the other. Even if any type of provision was made for tax liability was ignored the results were not encouraging.
The really bad news is that the consultant looked very blank when I asked which percentage of patients were referred to him from which source i.e. how many GP referrals, private referrals, recommendations from previous patients, insurance company referrals, etc.
It was clear this particular consultant had no real idea of how his practice or business was performing.