Remember when you were in medical school or optometry school and you learned the importance of following treatment protocols? These protocols have been tested over and over and have been proven to produce good outcomes. For example, testing for cataracts and glaucoma in the course of an eye exam leads to the discovery of those conditions, which then leads to early treatment. Treating early increases the likelihood of preserving functional vision.
Therefore, it is only natural that the optometrist or ophthalmologist would carry this mentality over into the nonmedical aspects of the practice. That’s good, because following a procedure allows for the efficient running of the office. However, as good as it is to follow procedures, there’s the flip side: missing opportunities because you or your staff were so busy crossing off items on a to-do list.
For example, let’s say that you implemented procedures that help move patients from the reception area to the exam room within a certain time period. Yes, examining as many patients as possible is good for your bottom line. Still, what if the patient wears spectacles and wants to switch to contacts, or vice versa? If your procedures just move patients through without giving them a chance to discuss their options, you are missing out revenue opportunities and providing the patient with a top of the line experience.
To change this, you need to do as one practice did and get out of the “habit loop.”The practice in question is run by Mile Brujic, OD of Bowling Green, Ohio, and he found that when he asked questions of his presbyopic patients, most of them asked if they could wear contacts. This simple question made him realize that he needed to adjust the routines in his office to address patient needs. Getting back to the presbyopes, just because a patient is in his or her fifties doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t active and would therefore benefit from multi-focal contact lenses. By taking the time to understand the perspective of the patient, Brujic and his staff improved their communication and were able deliver vision solutions that better fit the patient’s lifestyle and vision needs.
Of course, it isn’t just the active presbyopes that your practice needs to keep happy. How else can you work your practice so that you aren’t just moving patients along in assembly line fashion? Is your website easy to use? Do patients have an idea of the services your practice offers? Can they make appointments via the website? What about the phone? Does your staff have scripts that help them to provide good customer service to patients? What about once patients are in the office? Are they greeted by name? Are they given opportunities to fill out forms before coming to the office or to fill them out electronically? How does the office look? Is the furniture clean and the mirrors free of smudges? This is a lot to consider, but all these things are necessary if you want to improve the patient experience. While moving the patient from Point A to B to C seems cost effective, you can be overlooking opportunities to engage your patients. Engaging your patients can lead to both a better patient experience and an increase in revenue.