How GPs can maximise their earnings and it’s not all about the billings percentage

Most GPs working in private practice are offered about 65% of total billings but it’s a myth that those earning a higher percentage make more money, according to Melbourne-based medical recruiter Martina Stanley.

“We regularly come across GPs who are rightly concerned that they might not be getting a fair deal from their practice owner,” says Stanley, a co-director of GP recruitment firm Alecto Australia.  

“At times, it feels like a service fee of 30-40% of total billings is a lot of money and doctors sometimes question how that can be justified.

“But they forget that sometimes the clinics with higher percentage offers may not have the highest potential for earnings.”

A 2017 salary survey by Alecto found that of those earning 65% of billings, half were making between $350,000 - $550,000 per annum, which is significantly more than the $200,000 - $350,000 average GP salary.

Conversely, of those GPs earning 70% of billings, only 16% were earning the higher rate of $350,000 - $550,000.

How much you earn as a GP can often depend on how you work, not what you bill, Stanley explains.

“There are many factors involved in estimating an average salary,” she says.

These include:

  1. The number of hours worked. Whether you are working full-time (32-40 hours per week) or part-time, the more often you are available, the more quickly you will build a patient base.
  2. When you work. Stanley says some of their best-earning doctors take a break during the middle of the day and work a bit later to accommodate the times when patient demand is highest. Medicare rebates are higher for some of the after-hours periods – especially on Sunday.
  3. How many patients you see. Most GPs see between four and six patients per hour.
  4. The types of patients you see. If you have a loyal patient base, you will be able to bill Medicare for the higher-paying items for chronic care and you are more likely to be able to claim for the more complex item numbers.

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