Evaluation of the GP Super Clinics Program 2007-2008

6.9 Viable, Sustainable and Efficient Business Models

Page last updated: 2012

All GP Super Clinics had a strong focus on the viability and sustainability of business models. While not all GP Super Clinics were presently financially viable, most indicated they were optimistic about achieving this within the first three years of operation. In the main, the approach to achieving viability was a combination of MBS-refundable items with patient appointment times. This “price and volume” approach was common among the GP Super Clinics. To achieve patient volume, appointment times for GPs were allocated usually at either ten or fifteen minute intervals, with a focus on the medical assessment component, leaving other aspects of patient management to other disciplines. Where possible, appointments for other disciplines were arranged following or prior to those with general practitioners.

The business model was also supported by contractual arrangements between clinicians and the GP Super Clinics. These contracts commonly provided a proportional component of MBS items to the clinicians, with the remaining proportion contributing to the overall income for the GP Super Clinics supporting administrative and other staff to provide the required functional aspects. Forty (75%) of clinicians in the survey indicated that they contracted to provide services by the GP Super Clinics, with the remaining indicating a mix of arrangements.

Bulk-billing for all patients for MBS items was only available in one GP Super Clinic. This GP Super Clinic allocated appointments at ten-minute intervals to achieve the volume required to ensure viability. Most GP Super Clinics indicated that their initial projections under-estimated the proportion of clients who would be bulk-billed, thus necessitating a review of the business model. The majority of clinicians commented positively on the financial viability of the business model for them as individuals. Many indicated that they saw the balance between the model of care and professional satisfaction and the financial viability as critical. Indeed, some indicated they had left previous clinics where income may have been greater but professional satisfaction under the model of care provided made their position untenable.

I am happy with the business model….. I think my earnings will grow as the clinic grows but it is a balance between money and job satisfaction. Here is a much better environment [than previous] roles and I feel I am doing what I was trained to do…medicine. And the other [disciplines] can do what they need to do. This is a much more efficient way to work than I have had before because of that.

General Practitioner - Interview

GP Super Clinics where most concerns were expressed about the viability of the model identified patient volume as the main contributor to these concerns. In these instances, concerns about the location of the GP Super Clinics, combined with significant negativity from local practices, were suggested as factors impacting on patient volume.