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The importance of effectively utilising nurses within your practice

October 2019

Our recent article concerning the utilisation of nurses in private practice certainly promoted discussion with many of our clients wanting to revisit this with our professional team.

The importance of a medical practitioner effectively leveraging time through their nursing staff and, the pivotal role nurses can play within a medical practice is a view also shared in the article below by Debra Smith from Berkeley Healthcare Consulting:


Nurses play a central role in a primary healthcare setting with the delivery of team-based and multi-disciplinary care, particularly for patients with chronic and complex conditions.

Primary health care nurses can be enrolled nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners eligible for registration by AHPRA. Some practices are also employing Medical Practice Assistants (MPA) however they are unable to register with AHPRA. An MPA is a multi-skilled health team member who is able to perform a range of clinical tasks similar to those of an EN, plus admin and front desk duties and can assist in filling in gaps within the nursing roster that don’t necessarily need to be filled by a higher paid RN.

Care by nurses can be opportunistic, preventative or collaborative and they can work independently and interdependently in teams.

Value adding with nurse clinics

Nurse led clinics can: enhance the doctor / patient relationship, provide  patient centered care, an organised approach to meeting patient’s needs, better patient compliance, identify hidden problems, reduce hospital admissions, decrease GP time and increase revenue. This extra time saved for GPs could be utilised to allow GP’s to: see extra patients (therefore generating further income), utilise as catch up/free time / report writing or utilise to increase other services such as corporate medicine.

The employment of the right practice nurse and utilisation of their full scope of practice will: increase patient access to primary care services; enhance the range of services available to people attending the practice; provide collegiate support and assistance to the doctors; enhance the management of people with chronic conditions; support, influence and manage change; promote safety and quality programs and practices; encourage a team approach to care; decrease waiting times for appointments; decrease waiting times for consultation; increase patient satisfaction; have higher regard in the community; decrease overload on GP’s; provide an inducement to recruit new GPs, increase turnover & profitability and of course increase staff morale / satisfaction.

Sources of income through use of practice nurses includes:

Private billing for nurse consults (non-rebatable), MBS Items numbers 701-707, 715 (nurse time added to GP time to give total time of service), 10987, 10997, 721/723/732, 11506, 11700, 11610, PNIP payment, PIP QI activities (height/weight/ BP) etc, and innovation funding through various organisations.

It is important to ensure you have KPIs in place with your nursing team and to measure whatever you choose to implement by referring to your KPIs.

Ways in which nurses can contribute to a practice are outlined in the diagram below.

APNA Role of Nurse

Phillips CB, Pearce CM, Dwan KM, Hall S, Porritt J, Yates R, Kljakovic M, Sibbald B. Charting new roles for Australian general practice nurses: Abridged report of the Australian General Practice Nurses Study. Canberra: Australian Primary Health Care Institute, 2008. Available from aphcri.anu.edu.au and www.apna.asn.au.


If you feel that you could be doing more to delegate and provide opportunities for your nurses but don’t know where to begin? Contact one of our trusted professionals for advice and assistance at cnmail@cutcher.com.au or (02) 4928 8500.

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Topics: Accounting, Employees, medical accounting, doctor, medicalpractice

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