As part of our Accounting for Medical Practices blog series, Wilson Pateras accountant sits down with a valued client to discuss their unique experiences with our team. Today, Josie Curatolo, Business Manager at North Eastern Urology shares her insights with Wilson Pateras Principal, Nick Street, from North Eastern Urology’s HQ.
Nick: Hi Josie, welcome. Can you share how you came to be a Practice Manager in the Urology category?
Josie: Oh, that’s an interesting story. My background is actually in the public sector and I worked there for 18 years as a lab manager for a number of other specialties. I then went to have a baby, deciding to leave the public sector and see what happened after 12 months of maternity leave. This position came from a recruitment company. They contacted me and said they were very keen to interview me and pointed me to the role.
Nick: What are the qualities of a really competent Practice Manager?
Josie: It depends on the practice. Many specialty practices have just one specialist and we’ve got five partners. This means as a Practice Manager your day-to-day will vary. In my role, I’m essentially the business manager for the whole practice. So, you have to be flexible. You have to be one step ahead. You have to be diligent with details and make sure you communicate really well. Every patient is different, and every practice is different. And then there’s obviously the clinical side and the business side of the practice. The business side is meeting standards, paying bills – the accounting side. There’s a lot to it, actually.
Nick: It sounds like it. Would you consider yourself more business minded or administration-centric?
Josie: My background was clinical and I developed the business and management side of things over time. Now, I’m a little bit of everything! While I don’t do clinical in urology, I really enjoy the hands on administration – workflow redesign, making sure processes are streamlined, working efficiently and performing at best practice. I also enjoy looking ahead, forecasting where are we going and what we need to do to attract business.
Nick: That’s lots of hats. How does having worked with Wilson Pateras enhance your capacity for business in the future?
Josie: We used to have a dedicated bookkeeper, but she was finding the commute really difficult. When she decided to move on, there was a gap that I stepped into. This was mostly just to get a feel for what was happening and whether there were things we needed to do differently. My immediate thought was to outsource to an expert and then I’d be freed up to do what I’m best at. Now, I feel comfortable to send the accounting to Wilson Pateras and to let them manage it on a day-to-day basis. It takes a load off of my mind to be honest!
Nick: What do you enjoy most about your work here?
Josie: The diversity! As you said, I wear many different hats. It’s also great that I can try my hand at new things with support from the Partners. If I think something could be improved in the practice, they’re open to innovation. I love that part of it. I also love seeing the patients achieving great results. It’s important to me that we not only accommodate them but that we provide an enjoyable experience. And the team, they’re great to work alongside.
Nick: How many in the team?
Josie: I’ve got thirteen staff in total. Balancing everyone’s working style and personality is a challenge that I find really rewarding. I enjoy finding ways to improve the culture and make things better for the team, the practice and the patients.
Nick: What would you identify as the biggest challenge to the way that medical practices operate?
Josie: That’s a really good question. As we’re a private practice, the private health insurance cost is significant. There’s lots of people withdrawing from private health, simply because they can’t afford it. As a private practice we need to be exceptional to attract and retain clients. It’s really quite tricky managing the expectations of patients. We just ensure every call is answered, every interaction is genuine and our patients leave feeling looked after.
Nick: Of course. And the way that you collaborate with Wilson Pateras, how often are you in communication?
Josie: Daily, actually. I’ve been assigned a Wilson Pateras bookkeeper and each day we’ll be in touch with documents and invoices. We’ve developed a bit of a process, which works for us and for Wilson Pateras. We were encouraged to transition to Xero and now I use that daily and it works really well. With Wilson Pateras, I can mention my colleagues’ names and they’ll know who I’m referring to. If the team have any queries, I’ll just email Wilson Pateras straight away and we’ll get a response quickly.
Nick: And how has using cloud-based technology like Xero improved your business?
Josie: It’s really good, super user-friendly. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert by any means, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s so intuitive, I don’t need to be!
Nick: Why do you think that medical practices should collaborate with accountants and advisors who really understand their industry? What advantages does that give a medical practice?
Josie: Again, it depends on the practice. I think group practices do need to consult with an expert. When I met with Wilson Pateras initially, they suggested a few things that other practices were doing and that was extremely helpful. I thought, ‘Great, show me. I’m open to suggestions!’ From that perspective, they offer you an insight into ways you can move in line with the industry.
Nick: Did you have any specific problems you were seeking to resolve when you were appointed Wilson Pateras?
Josie: It was really important to get something that fit with the way we operate. I was used to having somebody in the business, sitting next to me. So, it was really important to have somebody take on role, who would be away from us but still integrate with us. I still wanted to oversee and understand everything, but at the end of the day I couldn’t do everything!
Nick: So, you were able to fine tune the processes with Wilson Pateras, so it worked for you.
Josie: Yes, and so it’s all completed in a timely manner as well.
Nick: What do you feel is the most important feature of Wilson Pateras’ outsourced accounting?
Josie: Accuracy. We need accurate accounting. I would also say that they are really approachable.
Nick: That’s great.
Josie: If I’ve got questions I can call. I don’t feel silly when something isn’t quite working on my end, and they tell me another way to do it or I’ll suggest something and they’ll say yes!
Nick: That was really insightful, it sounds like it’s a very complex business with lots of moving parts.
Josie: It is for me – and that’s the way I love to work. Perhaps other practice managers are happy to hand things over in entirety, but I really enjoy understanding everything that we’re doing. I can’t just be doing something for the sake of it, I want to know why things are being done – because if it goes wrong, I’m responsible! I don’t like that happening.
Nick: Josie that was really great. Thank you so much for your time.
Wilson Pateras are specialised medical accountants for doctors, medical practices and dentists. We collaborate with medical professionals working closely to design clear roadmaps that achieve their personal or business goals. To better acquaint you with our exceptional accounting services and wealth management solutions. Contact us on 03 8419 9800 or fill in the form here for a complimentary consultation.