The good thing about owning a practice is that, as the owner, you decide how-and when-to make improvements. The bad thing about owning a practice is that there are so many things to do each day that it can be hard to improve the business itself.
If you were a carpenter and you depended upon your saw to earn your bread, you would want to keep your saw sharp and ready to cut. If the saw isn’t sharp, you can’t cut wood and can’t build things efficiently. The less efficient you are, the less money you make. If there are ways you can make your practice more efficient and you aren’t doing it, your practice is not performing at its maximum capacity.
Streamline Check-In and Patient History Procedures
Use a tablet computer that captures the patient’s name, reason for visit, and the signature for the HIPAA agreement. Also, have your technicians work as scribes. They can verbally go through the patient’s history, review symptoms, and explain the exam.
Office Set Up
How are your displays? Reception and exam areas? Marketing materials? These are all areas where you can either sell to or educate the patient. Having a uniformity of design in your marketing material will help to brand your practice to you patients and help them to remember and recommend your practice to others. As for exam rooms, are there patient education posters? These posters instruct patients about the eye and help to dress up drab walls. As for displays, are they too close together? Do they have too many frames? One day, before patients come in, look over the office. See where you can make improvements. More often than not, you won’t have to buy anything new. Rather you can move things around to improve sightlines or even put a display in storage for a few months. You might want to ask a friend or someone who isn’t familiar with the business what they think to get a fresh perspective.
Rearrange the Exam Order and Delegate Pre-Testing to Staff
You don’t always have to do first patient history, then testing. You can do testing first, then patient history. In addition, you can train your staff to do the pre-testing, such as topography and retinal imaging, have them set up the phoropter to parameters and send the results to you just as you are about to exam the patient. This will reduce wait times and allow you to see more patients.
Listen to Your Patients
I’m not just talking about Number 1 or 2 or A or B. What are they saying about your staff, wait times, etc? Without your patients, your practice wouldn’t exist. Listen to what they are saying. Also, ask their opinion on occasion about the office layout or check-in procedures. You might get some unexpected insights. It is also good to have an unofficial focus group of patients who have been with your practice for five years or more to learn about ways to improve your practice. Another thing to do is send out post exam surveys. While the return rates on those can be low, it can yield valuable information that you can later use to improve service to all your patients.
In the film “Glengarry Glen Ross” the mantra of the real estate agents was “Always Be Closing”. As an eye doctor with an independent practice, your mantra should be “Always Be Improving”. The improvements you make not only improve your bottom line, they also improve patient care.