About GP Practice Ally
GP Practice Ally is an online platform dedicated to serving the needs of those involved in GP Practice Management in Ireland; providing updates, resources and training; and facilitating peer support and connection. Members of GP Practice Ally benefit from regular updates on changes and key issues in Irish General Practice, as well as having access to checklists, templates, webinars and workshops across all the Practice Management functions and a community Forum.
The focus of this platform is to support practice managers in optimising existing practice systems and introducing new solutions to gain insight, maximise profits and improve operational efficiency, with the goal of building well-managed, modern practices that are capable of adapting to the changing landscape of General Practice in Ireland.
I took over management of my family’s GP practice in 2018 and struggled at times to find clear, concise information on how to approach the increasingly complex role. Although GPs in Ireland have access to many useful forums and sources of information, the reality is that most practice managers do not have routine access to these. Key information that might make life easier for a practice manager may go over the head of a GP, or simply be missed amongst the numerous threads of clinical information. Most practice managers I know feel isolated as a result and lack peer support in their roles. I also found that existing resources focus on what to do, not how to do it, or contain so much information that they would overwhelm even the most studious of individuals. 70 page documents are neither approachable nor practical when time is a precious resource.
In 2020, I decided to set up GP Practice Ally to reduce the stress involved in running a practice by providing practical resources to modernise the approach to GP practice management and by creating a space for peer support and connection through an engaged community forum. From what I have witnessed in the last few years, there is no shortage of good ideas and innovative thinking in Irish General Practice. However, many fail to implement and sustain these ideas due to lack of awareness, resources or support, while most just don’t have the time to even consider them. With my background outside General Practice and an emphasis on placing equal value on ideas and implementation, I believe I bring a unique perspective to the world of practice management and can create sustainable change within it.
I created GP Practice Ally to contribute to the long term viability of General Practice in Ireland by empowering practice managers with the tools to optimise practice assets and systems, and by supporting them with resources to streamline the managerial role. My mission is to build confidence in running efficient, modern practices by highlighting fresh approaches to practice management and to provide guidance on becoming more profitable, more productive and more competitive.
‘To be competitive’ may not seem like a top priority in the world of general practice, however I believe being competitive refers to the ability to adapt and respond effectively to change; continuously improving patient care and ensuring the long term viability of the practice. Simply put, the more efficient your systems are, the more adaptable your practice is to change. In the context of a caring profession like General Practice, efficiency is not always easy or advisable in all areas of the business. However, by increasing efficiency in the right areas you can take the rapid changes in your stride, ensuring that patient care comes first without having a detrimental effect on long term profits. This is how you create value – for your patients, your staff and the business itself.
Our vision is a deeply connected community of GP practices, equipped to deliver the highest standards in quality local healthcare in the most valuable way. I hope you’ll join us.
Rachel Bothwell, Founder & CEO
I hold a degree in Business Studies & French from Trinity College Dublin and a postgraduate diploma in Fashion Buying & Management from Technological University Dublin having studied a diverse range of subjects including organisational behaviour, marketing, finance, strategic planning, consumer behaviour, sociology and analytics. More recently, I completed the ICGP Management in Practice diploma.
Over the last decade, I have worked with Irish businesses big and small: from building social enterprise brands from scratch and rebuilding existing businesses around new concepts; to developing and implementing the marketing strategy for one of Ireland’s most iconic department stores, and planning and delivering fashion ranges for one of Ireland’s largest retailers. I discovered my love for coaching others in 2018, when I taught business to women and mentored budding entrepreneurs in a grassroots school near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Connecting with these women and giving them the tools to build sustainable livelihoods, I realised I had a passion for mentoring and empowering others to succeed.
Unexpectedly, I returned to Ireland in July 2018 to take over the management of our family GP practice and my focus since has been on building an efficient, modern practice that is capable of adapting to the rapidly changing landscape of General Practice in Ireland. In that time, I have led a staff of 15 (and many locums) through a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty; firstly through a generational shift due to the sudden absence of the senior GP partner and the practice manager (my parents) due to illness, and secondly through the dramatic overnight changes to General Practice caused by the global pandemic. I have overhauled practice systems, strengthened financial analysis and control, and managed patient expectations and staff resistance to change.
Having grown up in a GP family and worked in the practice on-and-off since 2007, I have understood from a young age how challenging it is to balance running a small business with delivering high quality healthcare to the local community. I have witnessed the rapid evolution and also the changing public perception of General Practice in that time. I have climbed a steep learning curve over the last few years, with the help of the incredible staff at Arklow Medical Practice, including my parents, and my own curiosity.