Practices in Focus
Groveway Medical: commitment to quality leads to first-timer accreditation success
When AGPAL GP Surveyor, Dr Robert Menz reported back to the AGPAL Team after his inital on-site accreditation assessment of Groveway Medical, he had only praise for the accreditation first-timer. The AGPAL Team was so impressed with Groveway Medical’s on-site assessment results, we recenty caught up with Owner, Dr Tan Quach to learn more about his practice and how his team navigated their first accreditation.
Groveway Medical is a family-friendly, bulk billing medical centre situated in the North Eastern community of Golden Grove, South Australia. The practice consists of a tight knit team who strive to provide superior medical care for their patients. The clinic was opened in May 2019 by owner, Dr Tan Quach, who initially brought on Dr Morris, whom he met at medical school nearly 20 years ago. Dr Stanford joined shortly after, and the team will be welcoming Dr Ng in late November. The Groveway Medical Team also includes two nurses, and an onsite phlebotomist.
When Groveway Medical undertook accreditation to the RACGP Standards for general practice 5th edition in 2020, they were assessed by AGPAL GP Surveyor, Dr Robert Menz and Accompanying Surveyor, Jane Williams. On the completion of Groveway Medical’s initial on-site assessment, Dr Menz submitted the following feedback to the AGPAL team: “Groveway Medical is the best organised practice I have ever visited for an initial accreditation assessment.”
“It is particularly praiseworthy given that none of the participants had ever been through an accreditation assessment before. All the documentation was easily available, very well catalogued and they used a combination of physical folders and Practice Hub.” he continued.
“It is very rare for a practice going through accreditation for the first time to have no amendments or any issues to address. Groveway Medical met all indicators on the day, including all non-mandatories.”
Dr Menz has completed over 250 on-site assessments with AGPAL since 2009, so after such a glowing review, the AGPAL Team reached out to Dr Tan Quach to learn more about his practice and how his team navigated their first accreditation.
AGPAL Team: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Tan: The first thing that comes to mind is my team. They’re passionate and genuinely dedicated towards the goal of our clinic – prioritising health within our community. My patients and clinical medicine are obviously a special part of medicine that all doctors would innately enjoy, but the candid individuals will also tell you that patients can also be a very challenging and draining portion of work! Having a great team allows for appropriate debriefing and support when these situations inevitably present themselves.
AGPAL Team: Why did Groveway Medical choose to become accredited?
Tan: Accreditation was a non-negotiable, must-have for our clinic. Starting a clinic is a completely different domain in medicine that is not taught throughout training. I have yet to have met a doctor who has explicitly had training with the business and administrative side of owning a practice during their time from starting medical school, to their final fellowship exams.
Accreditation, in my view, was the guidance that provided an understanding of not only what was the minimum expected standards of care were, but rather what would be needed to have centre of excellence in general practice. We knew accreditation would serve as a great educational tool to learn about the management of what makes a good medical centre.
AGPAL Team: What was your role in the accreditation process?
Tan: As I was working full time leading up to the accreditation, it was my role to oversee and integrate the work from our team members to ensure all facets of the process were met. As a new practice, we had many members new to general practice and practice ownership (myself included).
I felt our team did an exceptional job on ensuring novel sections to the team were adequately identified, and the subsequent deficits in knowledge were addressed (such as safe digital records keeping). Accreditation is an extensive and thorough process, and we were aware of
the potential work, hurdles and stress that was pending. I felt one of my primary roles was to continually remind the team of the rationale for the work and how that will affect our patients, and almost more importantly, that we had the gold standard of accreditation as a road map to guide us.
AGPAL Team: As this was your first time attempting accreditation, what were your expectations of the accreditation process?
Tan: We knew that many owners and practice managers had lost a lot of sleep whilst preparing for accreditation, but we were fortunate enough to have staff who would regularly review and provide any feedback to help us adjust our methodology and policies to allow provision of optimal medical welfare. This allowed us to pre-emptively prepare and understand the processes that lay ahead for us. Their guidance wasn’t a “step-by-step how to guide” per se, but rather reassurance to us that the preparation and work now will yield dividends later as the practice grows.
AGPAL Team: Surveyor feedback following your on-site assessment indicated that they were very impressed with the set-up of your practice, what was your approach to being so well prepared?
Tan: Don’t take shortcuts. Accreditation is a complex process that integrates multiple division and facets of general practice. Individually, there can be already quite nuanced. Combining them all into a cohesive unit is obviously markedly more complex.
I explained this to a colleague with an IKEA example. If you’re building a big cupboard from IKEA and you simply take one piece out of the box at a time and don’t read the instructions – you’re almost destined to reach a road block somewhere. Lay everything out. Look at the plan. See which portions go in first before others. It makes things much easier, and almost more importantly, allows for much quicker trouble shooting if things go wrong.
Furthermore, we as an organisation understand that as a part of accreditation, there are standards that must be met, and others that are optional.
For us at Groveway Medical, anything that can be undertaken to improve patient care and medical welfare MUST and more often than not, will be considered and implemented. Everything we stand for is with the patient at the forefront of focus.
For example, we were cognisant of our catchment area’s socioeconomic status and demographics upon first planning the clinic, and therefore have made a conscious decision to remain bulk billing. As many of our colleagues would know, this has been extremely challenging however with the assistance of our team, we have performed an in-depth analysis of cost structures and MBS billing codes. This has allowed us to provide all the necessary care the patient requires, initiate preventative care, whilst also ensuring that all staff are well compensated.
Our focus is to provide a service which encompasses and addresses all aspects of a patient’s medical wellbeing whilst remaining sustainable. We understand that there are many limiting factors and hindrances to optimal patient care, and we as a team, seek to address and improve all these in our clinic.
In essence, having a goal, vision, and direction will greatly influence how and why certain things are done in your clinic. This invariably resulted in a degree of preparation, which had accreditation as one of its foci.
AGPAL Team: Were there any resources you found particularly useful in preparing for accreditation?
Tan: The AGPAL resource library was an excellent resource that we primarily based our accreditation documents from. We were also very fortunate to have a well-rounded team with experienced clinicians who, through team meetings and consultations, aided the development of the documents for accreditation. Our medical indemnity also provided appropriate help when needed throughout the process as well.
AGPAL Team: Were there any systems/processes that you implemented due to accreditation that have enhanced your business?
Tan: Our training structure is very well set and now makes the introduction of new staff very straightforward. We have processes for most things which really takes out the guess work for staff – things like medical emergencies, complaints, and handling of bills and payments all have set plans due to accreditation. We also developed the new COVID-19 protocol with a similar methodology, which has been a real relief in lieu of the chaos and uncertainty from it.
AGPAL Team: Has accreditation impacted your service offerings in any way?
Tan: Accreditation has allowed for us to access many of the government pathways and incentives as well as ensuring we clearly communicate our values and high standards to patients. However, I think the most important impact has been on our staff and the culture within the team. We consistently continue to ensure we exceed the RACGP Standards now, as this will aid us with:
- The management of our subsequent accreditations, and
- Serve as a litmus for one of the many key facets of how to be a great practice for us.
AGPAL Team: How has achieving accreditation impacted your practice?
Tan: The culture has evolved to one of genuinely aiming to pursue excellence. This has extended into our service offerings, the care we provide, and the service and attention during the healthcare journey.
I think some readers may feel that there is the caveat that we are a new practice, and this is different to their already established practices.
AGPAL Team: Has AGPAL accreditation really resulted in any deviations from our organic state to begin with? Were we due to be in a similar position we are in now regardless of accreditation?
Tan: To that I would counter that we had always set plans for an accredited practice from the start, and that helped serve our management direction. AGPAL accreditation was integrated in our DNA since Groveway Medical’s inception. So sure, it may have been predetermined that accreditation was to be a core part of the practice, but we are definitely in a much better position because of it.
AGPAL Team: Do you have any tips for practices starting their accreditation journey?
Tan: Become familiar with the guidelines and make sure the team understands that there is a common goal of accreditation. There is no doubt that if accreditation shouldn’t be tackled by a solitary member exclusively. Sharing the load will not only decrease the stress levels, but increase the engagement from the team.
AGPAL Team: As a general practice and Pfizer clinic, thank you for your continued service efforts. We’re sure this has been a challenging time for you and your team, can you tell us about this experience and what your team is most proud of?
Tan: We developed a COVID-19 response protocol in a similar methodology as our accreditation related protocols – with substantial forethought and team engagement. Whilst the COVID landscape is continually changing at an almost daily frequency, the core foundation of the plan allow for frequent modifications at a reasonably rapid place. This in turn has allowed the team to spend less time on administration, and more time in the clinic providing appropriate care to our patients.