8 Ways to Prepare Your Practice for Summer
Practice Managers are the last people who need to be reminded of the extra pressure put on practices during the summer months.
While winters are difficult, summer means more staff on holiday, making your rota more complicated. This results in higher workloads for the rest of the team, not to mention stress for leaders responsible for overseeing all aspects of delivery.
To help you navigate the summer, we’ve created a list of the essential tips and strategies needed for a well-organised practice. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Start by understanding the challenges
Everybody loves a summer holiday! But staff absences, combined with a drop in locum supply, make it difficult to fill rota gaps.
If you’re in an area with frequent tourists, you might also see a new source of demand. Understanding the issues is the first step to solving them.
2. Plan ahead of time
What happened in your practice this time last year?
Historical data is a useful resource that will allow you to forecast the likely demand this summer. It’ll show you where staff gaps have typically arisen and then give you the direction you need to start posting locum shifts to Lantum well in advance.
Sessions posted on Lantum 60 days in advance have a 70% chance of getting a suitable application, but if you wait till the week before you need cover, it drops to 30%.
Lantum streamlines the posting process, making it easier for you to post all your available sessions well ahead of when you’ll need cover.
3. Focus on building robust staffing strategies
Communicating with staff and understanding their preferences for time off will make things much easier.
From there, you can start to fill gaps by using Lantum to access a marketplace of 22,000+ temporary staff and locum GPs. And because Lantum is all about teamwork, you can work with neighbouring practices to share resources through your PCN’s flexible staff pool.
You never know, a colleague just a few miles away may already have the ideal solution for you.
4. Make staff well-being a focus point
Your team works hard throughout the year and deserves a break.
Accommodating time off and encouraging them to take breaks pays off in the long term. Be honest and open about the workload that’s coming in the summer months, because being empathetic is a simple and powerful way to boost motivation.
5. Keep patients in the loop
If there are operational changes that need to be communicated, spread the word as early as possible.
Highlighting extended hours, alternative services and any potential delays is an effective way to manage expectations and improve the overall patient experience.
Think about the channels you’ll use to make patients aware of changes in appointment availability, and lay the groundwork now to make sure they know who to turn to in an emergency.
6. Make use of the rise of automation
Using self-service scheduling platforms, telemedicine and remote consultations can help save you time. A small investment of time now to get to grips with these solutions will pay off throughout the summer and beyond.
Easy-to-use tools like Lantum’s Instant Book and Priority Access features allow you to get more done in a fraction of the time. Instant Book allows a select group of trusted clinicians to book sessions without you needing to review the application, and Priority Access opens up your sessions to your favourite locums first.
Not on Lantum yet? Sign up your practice today to access all the benefits – it’s quick and simple.
7. Reach out and collaborate with your PCN
When you’re focused on the fine details that go into delivering excellent care, sometimes it really pays to stand back and see the big picture.
Collaborating with your local PCN or even ICS is an effective way of sharing resources and getting access to more support. Practice Managers have achieved impressive results during the summer months by organising joint initiatives and coordinating emergency plans.
Just like with the previous tip, a small investment of time now saves you hours and hours of headaches in the near future.
8. Take a proactive approach to monitoring
Even the best laid plans will need to be changed and adjusted from time to time.
By taking a proactive approach to assessing staffing levels, you can adjustment schedules as and when required. In order to understand how things are functioning on the frontline, keep asking for feedback from staff and patients.
Understanding what’s going on will give you key insights into what types of change need to come from the top down.
Final thoughts on the summer ahead
Our research has shown that the earlier you plan ahead, the higher the level of delivery you’ll be able to achieve. Posting vacant shifts in bulk to Lantum early will improve your fill rate, and keeping staff and patients updated on operational changes will lift morale and manage expectations effectively.
Collaborating with PCNs nearby will allow you to share insights, strategies and resources at a time when your options are constrained. Looking into automation and remote service provision will also allow you to extend your coverage and delivery in a highly efficient manner.
We know you’re always pushed to do more with less. Our platform is ready and waiting to help you automate and streamline a large portion of your summer planning.