Annabel Veysey is the Founder and Managing Director of Medical Practice Management. Annabel is almost always the first person you’ll speak to when making a new enquiry, so we thought it would be nice to interview her. We’ll give you some background into Annabel’s journey from medical secretary to the leader of a team of just under 30 PAs running a large number of private practices. And still growing!
Can you introduce yourself to us and give us a little career history?
I’ve always worked in administration and secretarial work. I was a legal secretary for many years throughout my 20s. I worked in London and Brighton for nearly ten years. When I got married, we moved to the country, and instead of the legal sector, I found a job as a medical secretary within an NHS healthcare practice.
That was the first-ever medical admin job I had, and I found that I enjoyed the industry; it was rewarding work. I enjoyed patient contact and the busy day-to-day.
I eventually became a little dissatisfied with my day to day role. I didn’t feel I could make enough of a difference. The private GP setting wasn’t enough for me as I was limited in the roles I could get involved with. I decided that to achieve a better work-life balance and more control over my day; I would work from home. I found a role working privately for a Consultant Gynaecologist where I could work self-employed and remotely. I enjoyed working from home. I was just as productive, if not more so. I enjoyed my days more and found myself much less stressed out, managing to juggle drop offs and pick ups of my young children alongside a busy role I enjoyed.
Due to my work ethic, I was better suited to working in private healthcare. I have never been someone who doesn’t finish a job, in the NHS, you only get to see a part of the patient’s journey. Working for a private specialist in secondary care means you’re helping one step further down the line. I could follow the patient through their entire care pathway and get to know them better. I found it to be much more satisfying and rewarding. The patients were possibly more anxious or stressed but I’ve always been a people person and I enjoyed helping, ensuring they were booked in even if there were no appointments, going the extra mile.
What prompted you to start MPM?
My initial thoughts were to work self-employed and run a couple of practices as a lifestyle business. I didn’t want to commute a long way. I wanted to be around for my children and earn enough to contribute to the family. I was happy to work for myself and work part-time.
I certainly didn’t intend on growing it into a business of the size it is today. However, things change! The business slowly started to pick up over the last few years, and we haven’t looked back.
Why did you then decide to grow beyond just you?
After a while, I branched out and took on a few more clients. I got to the point where I was running several private practices. I was on the phone from 8am to 6.30pm and constantly chasing my tail. I’m extremely organised and find it difficult to have anything sitting in my inbox, so I would work until it was finished!
Like any self-employed person, I found it hard to take time off. The added difficulty when working for doctors is that it’s patients you’re letting down if the phone isn’t answered, poorly people. There has to be cover, and this is hard to come by. Even more so, once GDPR came along, we all needed passwords and logins followed by digital fobs. It was near to impossible to step away.
It took a very stressful day for my husband to point out to me that I was still working gone 8.30 pm and hadn’t seen the children since they had got home. I had missed their bath time and putting to bed (again), and the question was asked, ‘why are you doing this?’. I was so far away from the work-life balance I thought I was heading for a few months previous. I wasn’t happy. Something had to change.
The hardest part for me was letting go and having the confidence to hand over to someone I could trust to do the work to the same standard as me. after interviewing a few Medical PAs, I found someone I felt I could trust and started by handing one practice to her.
I did manage to take a long weekend, and it all went really well. I came back realising that it was entirely possible for me to hand over the running of some of my work to other people who are just as capable as I am. That unlocked things, and I slowly took on more help as I got more enquiries coming through.
I didn’t sense it at the time, but that was the true beginning of MPM.
So what does MPM look like today?
Well, we now have a team of nearly 30 experienced PAs working under the MPM banner. I have an internal team of 5 across HR, Finance, Business Development and Marketing, as well as my own wonderful PA.
It’s all grown quickly, but very naturally. We’ve reached the size we are now because I think our clients have realised the benefits of working with a remote PA service. The flexibility and our guidance and expertise have helped them get set up quickly, and we’ve run things very efficiently for them.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I now spend a lot more time running the business.
New enquiry calls tend to take up a lot of the week. Most calls are a minimum of one hour because I think it’s crucial to have an in-depth discussion so that potential new clients understand everything they need to make the right decision for them. I will always dedicate as much time as they need.
I’m now also looking at more business development related bits. Several people have approached us with new opportunities. I find myself vision planning – thinking about the future of MPM and how we can continue to provide a first-class service to more healthcare providers.
It’s essential to me, as we grow, we retain the high-quality service we have provided since day one. That means recruiting the best PAs and putting systems in place to ensure our high standards are upheld. My wonderful colleague Gillie spends a lot of time with every PA weekly to ensure they’re happy and supported. She is always around if a PA has issues of any sort. Carol is also heavily involved with the PAs and supports GIllie in this ever-growing important role.
I have more team meetings now that there are more of us, so that’s related to HR, Finance, Marketing, the list goes on!
I trust my team now, which is very reassuring, I can just give instruction and feel reassured that they know what I’m looking for, and more importantly, if they don’t, they will ask me. It’s important to have good communication across the team.
As you’ve grown, recruiting suitable PAs must be very important. What qualities do you look for in your hiring process?
My team do a lot of the initial interviews now, and we are all on the same page when it comes to hiring. We aren’t just looking for someone with a great CV. Personality is vital, someone that comes across really well, someone willing to go the extra mile. They’re going to be on the phone with our clients’ patients, and they need to be empathetic, friendly and easy to get on with. They also need to understand they’re working for MPM and our standards are high.
We of course do insist on a minimum level of proven experience, and in specific specialities too. It’s essential to hire PAs who care about the patients and understand that the phone needs to be answered. Medical needs are often urgent.
We’re always looking for signs that they will provide high-quality work. Working from home requires a lot of self-discipline and integrity, so we spend a lot of time ensuring the PAs we take on have these qualities. Multitasking and managing changing priorities are important. Spinning plates is standard.
We also look for team players. Even though they often work alone, there will always be a need to cover each other and help each other out during busy times. The PAs that really understand that always fit in brilliantly here. If they can help out a fellow PA in the team, that same PA will help them out next time they need it, they tend to buddy up. It works well.
Once we’ve assigned a PA to a consultant, we do regular check-ins with both the consultants and the PAs. We do a one week, four week and then quarterly check-ins to look for feedback from the consultants and from the PAs to make sure any issues are picked up quickly and make sure everything is working well. It’s important feedback is regular so that nothing is missed.
Where can people learn more about you and enquire about your services?
You can read my bio on the website, and on social media; I’m most active on LinkedIn. Other than that, if you’re a potential client, feel free to browse through our website and get in touch to book a free initial discovery call to see how we might be able to support your practice. I very much look forward to speaking with you.