[Informed Parent] [Flu]


Taken from Pulse 6/6/98

Most GPs reckon on an average 500 profit per partner -Dr John Couch shows how you can do much better.

GPs can treble their flu clinic profits and improve health care this winter with a little planning. This month many GPs will order their flu vaccines, confident that they will earn the average net profit of 500 per partner.

But we believe we can achieve net profits of 1,330 by cutting vaccine wastage, delegating tasks to receptionists and negotiating a cheaper deal with our vaccine supplier.

To overhaul your flu clinics, you must cut expenses and raise income across your whole programme.


Payroll is your biggest overhead. Nurses cost about 10 per hour while your receptionists are much less expensive. Therefore ensure your nurses only do the clinical tasks: not paperwork, computer searches and managing patient traffic flow. Also, look at how much time nurses spend preparing and clearing away after wards. Can this be delegated too?

If you use a receptionist to prepare patients, at least 50 patients per hour can be injected. We even get patients' sleeves rolled up in advance. Our receptionists also use a brief standard questionnaire on allergies, anticoagulants, tetanus and polio status. By the time the patient sees the nurse they only need the injection.

Nurse visits are very costly: a maximum of three patients per hour can be seen so you will make no profit at all on these injections. Why not do it yourself?

Most of your house bound patients will be on your chronic visiting list. Make sure you plan a revisit between October and December, marking you diary carefully. But use nurses for residential and nursing homes as this is cheaper.



If you negotiate a better discount now you can increase drug reimbursement by 31 per cent.

Contact all the manufacturers for a quote and consider joining forces with other local practices as a larger order may give you a stronger bargaining position.



It can be very difficult to judge the amount of vaccine you need and you lose money for every one that is unused. Arrange staggered orders (with an option to cancel the last one or two). We never try to cater for latecomers so if we have to send a few patients to the chemist in December we judge this a success!



The more you give the better your profit. Practices with average numbers of elderly patients generally achieve a 10 per cent vaccination rate but you could achieve 12.5 per cent if you advertise clinics well in advance. Use posters, messages on repeat prescriptions and opportunistic reminders.

Start vaccinating early. Call your supplier weekly throughout September to get an accurate delivery date, so that you can take advance bookings.



Is your claims system watertight? It is so easy to miss a few and at 7.50 per claim these can mount up. Review you procedures now.

Do flu jabs yourself for patients on your chronic home visits list

Aim for a vaccine discount of up to 55 per cent through bulk orders

Arrange staggered orders to minimise waste

Advertise your clinics well in advance with posters and messages on repeat prescriptions

Give patients any other injections they may need at the same time.

Tighten up your claims procedures.

By John Couch, GP, Ashford, Middx, UK.

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