Practice Management

How We Increased Capture Rate 15%, Doubled Patients Per Day & Boosted Return Visits

By Nicole Lovato

August 18, 2021

Your patients and practice deserve a well-run office. You can only provide stellar care if the office is as efficient as possible, if you are doing your best to ensure patients leave with all the services and products the doctor prescribed, and if patients follow through on their treatment plans.

Here are a few important improvements I implemented as practice manager that resulted in better-cared-for patients and a more profitable practice.

Seating Patients in Optical Immediately After Exam
We were increasingly seeing our prescriptions walk out the door. Our eyewear capture rate was not as high as we knew we were capable of making it. So, we changed how we hand the patient off to the optical.

Following the visit with the doctor, the tech or the OD walks the patient to the optical area, pulls out a chair from the table and tells the patient, “Have a seat, someone will be right over to get you finished up.” It is important that this verbiage is used. If you say anything about ordering contact lenses or glasses it gives the patient an opportunity to say they are not interested. The staff member who brought them to the optical is then forced to walk the patient directly to the check-out desk.

New techs all deviate from the statement above when they are first hired. When I observe this happening I stand back and watch and the patient will always have questions for the tech that they are not equipped to answer, or will say, “I am not buying anything today.” I then use this opportunity to take that employee aside and explain that this is why we always say, “Have a seat, someone will be right over to get you finished up.” The employee then understands the value of the statement and rarely says anything else.

The patient will occasionally say to the doctor or tech in the exam room that they do not plan to buy glasses or contacts today. Even when that happens, I make sure the doctor and tech still seat the patient in the optical.

We have been pleasantly surprised at the number of patients our optician is able to successfully encourage to purchase eyewear and contacts. An optician’s job is to explain options and make purchasing in the office an easy and pleasant experience. These are skills only well-trained opticians possess. Allowing anyone else in the office to have these discussions, or be told no by the patient, will only result in a lost potential sale.

Having more patients purchase from us versus online is also excellent for ensuring a high level of care. Patients who purchase their glasses in-office typically have a better experience with their eyewear due to the ease of purchasing and the ability to go back to the same place that did their exam to address any issues that arise.

Results: Prior to seating every patient in the optical our capture rate was about 45 percent. Since making this change we have increased our capture rate to roughly 60 percent.

Maximizing Staff Time
We cross-train all of our staff, utilize a scribe/tech in the exam rooms and set proper expectations with our staff.

My staff and I worked closely with the doctor to make sure we were utilizing the time spent with patients as effectively as possible. We learned to cut out conversations that were not necessary while still providing the best patient care. Teaming up staff members on occasion was needed to ensure everyone was cross-trained. Luckily, we have been doing this for so long that I only have to do it about once every few months. Practices new to this concept would want to do it one employee at a time.

We lost no revenue, and in fact, have increased revenue by increasing the number of patients we see and have decreased staffing cost by making sure the staff can handle more than one position when needed.

Patients appreciate spending less time in the office and consistently tell us they appreciate how thorough and efficient our office is.

Results: By making sure our office was as efficient as possible we were able to double the number of patients each doctor sees in a day and utilize two-thirds of the number of staff members the average office would use given the revenue we bring in.

Following Up on Return Visits
We have learned the importance of following up with patients to make sure all return visits recommended by the doctor happen. We felt like many patients needing to come back for additional testing or office visits were not coming back in. We were hoping by tracking this and following up with patients that we would see more return visits, thus providing the best care for our patients.

Every time the doctor wants to see a patient back for any kind of return visit a note is made and sent up to the optical or front desk when the patient checks out. At that time the staff tries to schedule the visit. The notes on needed return visits are then given to me. Every day I go through them and place them an accordion file marked by the month. I make sure to place them about a month out from when the patient was supposed to return, so the patient has enough time to be seen if they intended to. Twice a month I go through the current month’s notes and make sure the patient was seen. If they were, then I discard the note. If they were not seen I give the note back to the receptionist and have her call the patient to schedule.

No additional staff was needed to start doing this. I personally do it so I can guarantee we are capturing as many return visits as possible.

All in all, this process requires less than one hour per month. I spend about one minute each day placing the notes in the file and about 15 minutes twice a month making sure the patient was seen. The receptionist then spends about 15 minutes calling the patients who need to schedule.

Results: Patients appreciate being reminded of their appointments. Most patients meant to call back to schedule, but forgot. Patient care is greatly improved because we are able to properly follow-up on the conditions the patient has. And profitability has definitely increased. By reaching out to these patients we are able to book more visits, and typically these visits require one or more additional test thereby increasing gross revenue per visit.

Nicole Lovato is the practice manager of Azle Vision Source. During her 20 years in the optical industry, she has worked alongside several doctors and acquired a variety of tools and business skills. To contact her:


Photo credit, top of page: Getty Images


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