Practice Management

COVID-19: Tasks to Keep Doing Inside a Closed Office

By Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

April 8, 2020

Your office is closed, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily time to send staff home, and check yourselves out from practice management. Now is the time to catch up on tasks that will reap rewards for completion after the office reopens.

We closed our office for routine and comprehensive care on March 20, 2020. We have our staff working in pairs on a shortened schedule answering the phones, processing insurance claims, ordering contact lenses and triaging care.

The door to the office remains locked at all times – no patients are entering the office. We have one doctor on call each day for emergency care. We are utilizing telemedicine at this time.

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If staff are still employed, this is a great time to catch up on office tasks that often get pushed aside.

Inventorying Optical Products
We have had our staff do a full inventory of frames and sunglasses- this gives us a great picture of where our optical stands right now. We can look at board space and turnover and determine a plan going forward based on how specific lines are performing and how to utilize these lines when we reopen.

Catching Up on Insurance Claims
Billing staff can make sure everything is up to date as well- are there claims that have been rejected and need to be refiled? Are there claims that have to be filed? Are there outstanding patient balances? (Many offices are opting to postpone sending patient bills at this time).

Contact Vendors to Negotiate Delayed Payments
Are there vendors to be contacted to ask about delaying payments or setting up a different plan?

Strategizing Ways of Reducing Expenses
What other ways can a practice cut down on expenses during this downtime? I had one practice tell me they lowered their heat while they are not in the office- why pay extra utility costs while not in your space? Have your staff jot down ways to save the office money and set up a conference call to share your ideas.

Improve Your Skills with Online Learning
Doctors and staff can use this opportunity to refresh and learn. I have already taken four webinars on different topics and participated as a lecturer in an online conference series. I have a list of topics to learn about, and am compiling a list for my staff. I plan to reach out to vendors that we partner with to ask about online learning resources to build my library.

Many states have changed their acceptance for online continuing education credits. If your state allows it, this is a great time to do online CE. Many web sites offer CE, as well as virtual conferences. As always, contact your state optometric association to find out what the latest policy is for online or remote continuing education.

Build a Social Media Calendar
This is also a great time to build a social media calendar. We have our associates working on posts to deploy over the next few months. If you are not using social media for your practice, take this time to learn and start communicating with your patients.

 

Jennifer Stewart, OD, is a partner in Norwalk Eye Care in Norwalk, Conn. She also is founder and COO of Performance 20/20, a sports vision training center in Stamford, Conn. To contact her: jen.stewart@perform2020.com 

 

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