Top 5 challenges medical Practices face & what to do about It

Jun 2, 2022

Medical practices have their own unique set of challenges.

We at LocumBase have tried to lighten the load for you by putting together five of the most pressing challenges, and possible solutions.

1. Poor patient experience

When patients are satisfied with the experience they have at a medical Practice, they return. And of course, that is the goal of the medical practice - to have a steady flow of patients.

However, all too often, the Practice might focus on their own internal processes and needs instead of putting their attention on the patient experience. 

Where many medical Practices go wrong, is forgetting that the Practice is a business, and businesses that offer superior customer experiences do better financially than those that don’t.

A suggested way to kick off a project like this is to collect feedback from current patients in the form of surveys, using open-ended questions. That way, you’ll know which issues are most pressing and common.

2. Staffing and Locums

One of the greatest challenges of medical Practices is finding qualified staff and Locums. For small Practices, especially those who can’t compete with the big boys, the struggle is real. They can’t offer the benefits or perks or even facilities that larger Practices can, and because of that, they have a tougher job attracting quality staff or Locums.

If you’re a small Practice, find creative ways of offering unique but titillating benefits, like flexible hours or getting mundane tasks done for them, like washing their car, renewing car licences and so on.

Another affordable option is using a service like LocumBase, which charges a 15% facilitation fee for every booking and has the ability to match your needs to a Locum far easier and faster than the traditional methods used.

Find out four options to recruit Locums.

3. Ethical dilemmas

Physicians often need to make difficult ethical decisions daily. These can range from charging full rates for a financially struggling patient, to deciding to switch off costly end-of-life care that is only delaying the inevitable.

The US National Library of Medicine says that “although technical competence is required for one to make the right and good decision, it is insufficient alone as a guide for moral behaviour. Given the medically correct facts, a multitude of responses is available which necessitate a moral choice. Physicians need a guiding principle that goes beyond any aesthetic code of behaviour, or protection of self-interest, and which enables them to deal with all the unexpected ethical questions faced in providing care to patients.”

In the decision-making process, there are three fundamental principles of medical ethics that act as a guideline: 

  1. Respect patient autonomy: provide all the necessary information so that the patient can make their own decision. 
  2. Beneficence: Health Professions Council of South Africa gives clarity: “Healthcare practitioners should act in the best interests of patients even when the interests of the latter conflict with their own personal self-interest.” It goes further than that, however; practitioners have to consider all angles of the patient’s situation, so there’s not a “one for all” answer because it depends on the circumstance.
  3. Do no harm: while most treatments will have side effects, “do no harm” acts as a reminder to physicians. A good way of evaluating things is to ask yourself if the benefits outweigh any potential harm.

4. Burnout

Burnout and stress among physicians in South Africa are widespread, but you won’t hear about them often. 

Medical Brief refers to research conducted by Ariadne Labs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, which found that “Free State nurses had the highest documented prevalence (at least 98%) of emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation – or having a unfeeling and impersonal responses towards patients.”

In addition, a research questionnaire completed by 67 doctors, found that 34 (51%) were stressed and 18 (27%) of the physicians were highly stressed.

This is a huge problem because burnout translates into less care and costly mistakes and sometimes even legal issues.

One way to reduce stress in smaller medical Practices is to use LocumBase, not only as a way to easily source quality temporary medical replacements but also to give physicians a break while business continues as usual.

5. Compliance with patients

ePill reports that on average, 75% of adult patients do not adhere to treatment plans in one or more ways, and patients over 65 years of age regularly forget to take their medication. But there are many more reasons for non-compliance.

The important point is that when patients don’t follow medical practitioners’ instructions, the consequences can be fatal and the ramifications huge.

Much of the time, the prescription is blamed, or the doctor - the patient forgetting that when meds are not taken, they don’t work. This becomes the medical practitioner’s problem because their reputation is at stake.

Some tips to help patients comply with treatment plans include:

  1. If the plan is complex, print a page or small card showing how and when to take it. 
  2. Build systems or apps that remind patients to take their meds. 
  3. Educate them on the importance of compliance.
  4. Involve caring family members.
  5. Print a booklet to act as motivation to follow the treatment plan, especially when the circumstances require motivation, like weight loss.


The top 5 issues medical practices face regularly include:

  1. Poor patient experience
  2. Sourcing qualified staff and Locums
  3. Making the right decisions
  4. Stress and burnout
  5. Patient non-adherence

We hope we’ve been helpful in providing potential solutions. 

What other problems do you experience regularly? Let us know.

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