Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM)
Supporting Practice Managers
Business View Oceania interviews Miranda Grace, CEO of Australian Association of Practice Management , for our focus on Health and Hospitals.
The Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) was established in 1979, to promote the importance of the Practice Manager’s role within the healthcare sector. The organisation has since evolved to work towards the universal recognition of practice management as a true profession, and promote its value as the nexus between health policy, clinicians, and consumers, to realise effective healthcare systems and sustainable businesses for optimal patient outcomes. Member benefits include, but are not limited to: professional development, mentoring, self-guided education, and networking opportunities; HR and legal advisory services; access to member-only resources and online community platforms; subscriptions to the quarterly Practice Manager Journal and Pulse+IT, and the fortnightly The Practice Space e-newsletter; Certified Practice Manager credentials and scholarship opportunities; and, invitations to the annual AAPM National Conference and Practice Manager of the Year awards.
Miranda Grace, CEO of AAPM, says the association’s mission is to lead, promote, and support excellence in healthcare practice management. “We are the peak professional body for Practice Managers and the profession of practice management across the entire healthcare sector throughout Australia. We provide a member-based service with the goal to deliver excellence in practice management, by ensuring professional development in appropriate governance, human resources, finance, business operation and administration… Everything our members need to run a successful practice. Historically, Practice Managers were the physician’s partner, secretary, or assistant. The broadening and growth of their responsibilities overtime has seen Practice Managers evolve into frontline, patient-facing members of staff that are absolutely essential to the success of a practice. It is our job to advocate for Practice Managers and provide them with the development opportunities they need, including education and accreditation, to thrive.”
The AAPM Constitution states its objects of establishment as: “To represent and unite Practice Managers and other within the profession of practice management throughout the healthcare industry; promote, create opportunities, and advance professional development and leadership; promote and advance ethical behaviour within the profession according to the AAPM Code of Ethical Conduct; promote and advance advocacy and recognition of the role of practice management; contribute to a sustainable and socially responsible healthcare system; and, to establish strategic alliances in pursuit of said objects.”
Bringing this constitution to life, Miranda says, is no easy feat. “We are the only peak association for Practice Managers in Australia. Across the industry, it is a consistent challenge for our members to be recognised as professionals in their own right- our role is often overshadowed by that of doctors and nurses, but the role of Practice Managers is just as pivotal. Patients and the general public don’t necessarily understand the work that goes on behind the scenes in practice management, so we are doing a lot of work to raise awareness and educate Australia on what we do.” The AAPM has also seen members face a plethora of challenges during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly concerning patient aggression and inconsistency in government information distribution.
The AAPM is led by a team of eight staff and approximately 60 volunteers; skilled individuals fuelled by a passion for the industry. The national board is supported by state-based branches in Western Australia, South Australia / Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales / Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. The association’s network communicates to over 6000 individuals in the sector on a regular basis, Miranda explains. “We are a small but highly engaged, highly educated team. When you work for a not-for-profit organisation, you have to have a love for the industry that you represent. Our work is so much more to us than just a job. We really have the desire to support, grow, and promote our sector. Our team also regularly collaborates with industry partners to further our cause and support neighbouring sectors; we work closely with the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA), the Australian Digital Health Agency, and also with industry software providers including HotDoc, MedicalDirector, Healthsite, and others. Everything we do, we do with our members in mind.”
Examples of AAPM’s impact include support from government for Practice Managers’ mental health during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Miranda elaborates, “The Black Dog program ‘The Essential Network’ is a government funded mental health service for frontline workers. When it was introduced, it included doctors, nurses, and other clinicians, but excluded Practice Managers. These are the people who are literally the frontline; Practice Managers have to be able to manage staff teams, coordinate with doctors, clinicians, nurses, specialists, and all sorts of external providers. In addition to that responsibility, they deal with patients who are angry, frustrated, and often suffering in one way or another- during the pandemic, this led to an influx of verbal and at times physical abuse. Our Practice Managers were really struggling mentally, and to not be included in The Essential Network was a serious oversight. I’m happy to report that we stepped in and were able to get Practice Managers on the program, which was a great win, but it just shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of recognising the profession as essential.”
Looking to the future, AAPM plans to continue focussing on their ability to advocate for and on behalf of members. Miranda concludes, “The future looks very bright for our members as far as their recognition goes. We will certainly remain very much focussed on advocacy and policy, to get our voice heard at the federal and state government level. As part of that, we will keep developing our value and offerings to members concerning their professional development and upskilling. Through our CPM accreditation, we provide Practice Managers with the resources and skills they need to thrive in their position; when Practice Managers thrive, so do their practices, and the patients that visit them. It’s in everyone’s best interest to support Practice Managers as essential to our healthcare ecosystem.”
AT A GLANCE
Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM)
What: Peak body organisation supporting Australian practice management professionals
Where: AAPM is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia