GPs at corporates do less admin and teaching work

2 minute read

Data from the MABEL survey found corporate and non-corporate clinics are roughly equivalent in terms of GP work/life balance, workload and job satisfaction.

Research from Monash University found that GPs who work in corporately-owned clinics spend about half an hour less on administrative tasks each week and had about the same level of job satisfaction as their non-corporate counterparts.

The study, which was published in Health Policy earlier this month, drew its data from the 2017 edition of the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life longitudinal (MABEL) survey.

Around 3500 GPs were included in the sample, 25% of whom worked in a corporately owned practice chain (defined as having 10 or more locations).

Results were compared across five key areas: wellbeing, workload, patient access, organisational efficiency and service quality.

Corporate clinic GPs and GPs who worked in smaller chains or individual practices were neck and neck on most measures, including patient wait times, overall job satisfaction, number of patients seen per hour and hours worked per week.

A slightly lower proportion of GPs in corporate practices taught registrars – a measure associated with service quality – but at the same time, a lower proportion of GPs in corporate practices reported dealing with a complaint.

Some of the bigger differences emerged when looking at billing data: the bulk billing rate among corporate GPs was around 5.3 percentage points higher, and the fee they charged for a Level B appointment was $3.42 lower.

The corporate cohort also reported spending around half an hour less each week on administrative duties, around 30% lower than their non-corporate counterparts.

“We find stronger evidence of higher organisational efficiency, as corporates were more likely to employ practice nurses and GPs spent less time on administration and management,” the researchers wrote in Health Policy.

“That said, GPs working in corporate practices were more likely to report undertaking tasks someone less qualified could do.

“This could be because nurses and other staff in corporates are employed to do different tasks (they are complements not substitutes) compared to nurses in non-corporate practices.

“We find no differences in service quality.”

Jeremy Stones, CEO of corporate GP clinic peak Primary Care Business Council, welcomed the research findings.

“The competition is tough, and corporate operators have to work just as hard as individual practice owners to keep GPs operating from their facilities,” he told The Medical Republic.

The experience of working at a corporate clinic will vary between locations, Mr Stones added.

Health Policy 2024, online 19 February

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