Insights From Our Editors

How to Use ‘Crazy Busy’ Times to Improve Your Practice

Dr. Sorrenson’s optical and reception area. Dr. Sorrenson says that she is considering an expansion of her office that will improve patient flow and staff efficiency.

Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO

March 29, 2023

Our office was ‘crazy busy’ in December, especially the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We had hired another doctor, which just added to the craziness.

As stressful as your busiest times are, they also are ideal for seeing what your staff thinks can be improved. I sent out a survey in early January to my staff utilizing SurveyMonkey with two questions.

The first: “During this busy time, did you see any bottlenecks in our patient flow or anything else that didn’t feel good? Too crowded, not efficient, etc?”

The second: “What suggestions do you have to improve any issues you stated in #1?”

Basically, my staff’s responses revealed four recurrent themes. Two of those we were able to fix right away. One will require buying another auto-refractor and the fourth will probably require the building expansion we are currently planning. Here are the top three takeaway points from our survey:

  1. One of our auto-refractors takes significantly more time than the other one, which slowed down our preliminary diagnostic testing. So, we are buying another one.
  2. We need to have the contact-lens technicians check the patient out in the contact-lens area to avoid “bogging down” the check-out area.
  3. During holidays, we end up with too many people in our patient lounge area and in our optical. During that time of year, patients like to bring their family and friends, who are visiting with them, which can triple the number of bodies in our space at any given time.

As a result of what we learned, we are concentrating on our efficiencies, but we also are looking at expanding the side of our building, which will add more space to the patient lounge and the optical and create three more optician work stations! Not a cheap fix, but doing this will solve the two biggest challenges we had during our crazy busy time.

Getting feedback from your staff that identifies issues or bottlenecks is invaluable. Try doing a simple survey and see what you learn!

Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO, is president of Lakeline Vision Source in Cedar Park, Texas, and the Professional Editor of Review of Optometric Business (ROB). To contact her:


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