Types of Healthcare Practices and Ways to Improve Them

As Dalai Lama rightly said, “Happiness is the highest form of health”, and Thomas Fuller pointed out that “Health is not valued till sickness comes”, the healthcare industry across the world aspires to bring good health to as many as possible. Quality of healthcare is often measured by several factors and one of them includes healthcare practices. Healthcare practice is also an important source of representing the quality of the healthcare service provider.

An ideal healthcare practice includes providing a service that not only helps a patient treat their sickness, but also making the entire process—from diagnosis till treatment is complete—as smooth as possible for the patient.

Along with ensuring a smooth process for the patients, medical practices include compliance with the legal, ethical, and political policies of the respective states they are practiced in.

Types of healthcare practices
Medical practices come in many different forms including private practice, large health maintenance organization (HMO), locum tenens, hospital-based practice, and group practice.

  • Private practice– Some doctors or physicians practice alone with no partner, but an assistant and minimal staff. Medical practitioners who don’t wish to be associated with a large healthcare organization opt for private practice, where they manage their own work and occasionally practice at large organizations as visiting physicians if the need arises.
  • Hospital-based practice– Doctors earn a predictable income working in a hospital-based healthcare practice as they have a regular patient base and a strong referral network. They either work in a hospital-owned practice or in one of the hospital departments. Working at a hospital provides several benefits, including regular work schedule, low or no business risk, and a steady income. Along with these benefits, there are some drawbacks as well that include a relative lack of physician autonomy.
  • Locum tenens– Locum tenens is a Latin word that means substitute. It is a type of practice where medical practitioners temporarily fill the space of another practitioner with higher pay. Medical practitioners who work in a locum tenens facility can enjoy the benefits of practicing at different geographical locations, flexibility, and lower living costs.
  • Large health maintenance organization– Large health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are organizations that include physicians who work on a fixed salary. Large HMOs provide a stable work environment to the physicians, enable them to work for lesser hours, and be free from too many regulatory responsibilities. Though physicians here work on a fixed income, they are eligible for bonuses that can be dependent on productivity and patient satisfaction.
  • Group practice– Group practice is similar to private practice as far as no large healthcare organizations are involved. The only difference lies in the number of medical practitioners. In a group practice, a small number of physicians collectively provide medical care within a facility. A group practice facility can have physicians of the same expertise or different ones. Group medical practices have several benefits like having shorter working hours as the patients get divided among the physicians; having a built-in, on-call coverage; and access to wider working capital.

Ways to improve healthcare practices
Each type of healthcare practice has its benefits and drawbacks, but the most important thing that helps patients reap benefits from all is how well a healthcare entity runs its practices. There are several guidelines following which an entity can improve its healthcare practices and become more successful.

  • Prioritizing patients– The best healthcare practices are often judged by patient experience. Focusing on patients and dedicating the practices to serve them well helps a healthcare organization to elevate the quality of their practices.
  • Legal compliance– Each type of healthcare practice has different regulatory guidelines. Ensuring those guidelines are followed without any loopholes becomes essential to carry out legal as well as ethical practices.
  • Effective communication– Communication between the staff and between the medical service provider and patients is important as it helps regulate transparency and build trust. This helps a healthcare facility increase its credibility and integrity.
  • Improve internal procedures– There is always room for improvement when it comes to management and internal processes. Medical service providers can take surveys and feedbacks occasionally to understand which areas can be improved.
  • Automation– Automation is an important element in today’s world as it improves the quality and accuracy of work. In healthcare, automation can include upgraded machines and equipment that improve the overall quality of practice.
  • Quality care– Regular testing quality of care can help every medical service provider to improve their practices. Using files, checklists, calendars, and printed forms are some ways to check quality care.
  • Supervision– Effective supervision is one of the best ways to ensure continuous improvement in all medical practices. Supervision includes checking the productivity of the practices carried out by each person in the staff.
  • Innovation– Constantly learning about new ways certain medical researchers and doctors have suggested to bring positive change to healthcare practices can be helpful. Healthcare service providers should stay updated by investing in relevant conferences and seminars, staying updated with news, and reading research papers.

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