By Tyson Allard, OD
Feb. 2, 2022
Superior care, and a great patient experience, are two components that go into building a profitable practice. Another essential part of attaining profitability is efficiency. If your practice is not efficient, it will be hard to maintain the patient experience and it also will be hard to remain profitable.
Here are a few changes my practice made to boost efficiency, including one improvement that enabled us to add 30 percent more patients per day.
Contact Lens Software that Orders & Ships CLs Directly to Patients
Our contact lens ordering and patient pick-up was creating administrative challenges for our practice. The patient would order, we would let them know their order had arrived in our office, and they would sometimes wait a month before coming in to pick up their new lenses. We also began experiencing account receivable difficulties because we were always waiting for payment for the contacts purchased from us.
We partnered with Alcon to use the company’s new contact lens ordering and direct-to-patient delivery service, MARLO. Transitioning to use of this technology required no upfront payment from our practice, and we were able to greatly improve our account receivables and reduce the administrative challenges. The technology allows patients to take control of the ordering experience and to have the convenience of having their contacts shipped directly to their home.
No longer managing contact lens ordering and pick-up freed up staff time and made our office run more smoothly. Using MARLO increased efficiency by 10-15 percent. We put one staff member in charge of our use of MARLO, and this has allowed better tracking and communication with patients about their contact lens needs.
The growth of our accounts receivables have proven that it was the right decision to no longer handle contact lens ordering and pick-up in-house.
The main benefit of this improvement, however, is the reduced foot traffic of patients coming in to pick up products. This has allowed our staff to use their time instead to serve patients in our optical, while keeping the number of patients in our office down to increase the ability for social distancing.
Our patients also appreciate this change, as it allows a greater focus on them while in our office. They are more likely now to have the undivided attention of our staff.
Retinal Photography/OCT Technology
We are using the Topcon Maestro retinal camera/OCT. This camera allows us to take a picture and OCT image of the retina. This increases efficiency because the technology allows me to better identify medical conditions, and allows me to streamline the exam process.
After the pandemic began, I wanted an easy, minimal process to reduce exam time and the amount of time the patient would not be able to be socially distanced from me.
The technology allows for better identification of medical conditions, which allows me to better manage the patient’s care and keep more medical eyecare in our practice.
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The technology also creates a wow factor with our patients when we review images in front of them. With COVID now a long-term part of our lives, I have continued using this technology. There are many ways to implement the technology in your office.
In our office, I add this technology into the cost of the exam, alerting patients that it is an additional screening cost. Patients usually agree to this added out-of-pocket cost, enabling us to increase exam revenue.
The efficiency we gained through use of this technology allowed us to increase appointments per day by 30 percent. That increased daily patient volume has resulted in a significant increase in annual gross revenue.
Job Role of Super Technician
We created a job role known as Super Technician. This position is technician, scribe and optician rolled into one employee. The same staff member stays with the same patient through their whole experience in our office.
I came up with this new multifaceted job role after experiencing dissatisfaction with the transition and hand-off between areas of our office. Combining job roles into one employee allows for better communication and continuity with the patient. It makes the patient feel that they are being given special attention, with one employee designated to stay with them throughout their visit.
This new job role improved our efficiency because all my technicians are now trained in almost all job roles in our office. So, if we have an employee call in sick, our operations are not disrupted. Adding the job role of super technician boosted efficiency by 12 percent.
Patient care is improved as the new job role demands that the staff member learn the patient’s complete history/treatment plan. They are with the patient the whole time the patient is in our office, so they hear the doctor’s treatment plan the same time the patient does in the exam room.
Our patients now flow through the office seamlessly and with little-to-no interruptions. Staff enjoy the new job role it because they are involved in all patient experiences, leading to greater fulfillment and high job satisfaction. This new approach to managing patients has also created a spirit of teamwork, with employees ready to pitch in for co-workers at any time.
Bottom Line: Be Open to New Technologies & New Ways of Approaching Job Roles
We increased efficiency by utilizing new technologies and rethinking job roles. It’s essential to keep current with new technologies and have open, honest relationships with staff.
Our patients and staff are now happier because when they are working, or receiving care, they know their time is highly valued.