Insights From Our Editors

Is Your Practice Really Ready to Innovate?

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Feb. 26, 2020

What is your practice doing to come up with novel ideas to wow patients and deliver ever-better care? Here are a few ways to push yourself and your staff to be more innovative.

Our patients have embraced innovative businesses that have disrupted traditional businesses. For an example, look at Amazon. More people are purchasing online than are going into brick and mortar stores. I needed something for the house, and Amazon Prime told me that if I ordered in the next two hours I could have it delivered to the house before 9 p.m. on the same day. I ordered and it arrived at 7 p.m. The world is changing.

Take a close look at your practice. Are you doing the same things today that you did last year … the year before … five years ago … 10 years ago … maybe even longer? We were in the mall yesterday and walked by a Lenscrafters store. They had signage in the window offering “digital” eye exams. Do you offer “digital” eye exams?

Marketing studies teach us that when you give people too many choices to make, they often make no choice. We all agree that we force patients to make too many decisions when choosing frames and lenses, so, how have you changed how patients choose frames and lenses in your practice? Have you simplified the process by utilizing bundles and packages? Or are you presenting frames and lenses the same way as it was done 30 years ago? If you want ideas, visit a Warby Parker store to see how they present frames and lenses.

Almost everyone presents fees to patients exactly how insurance companies have taught us: your base lens fee is $X, you’ve chosen a light adaptive lens so that is an additional $Y, plus you wanted thin-and-light lenses so that is an additional $Z. The fees keep adding up higher and higher.

A better script is: “Your frame and lenses would normally be $X, but today, because you have Acme Benefits (or “because of our in-house discount”), your out-of-pocket is only $Y. That’s a savings of $Z.” What script do you use in your practice?

Consider patient scheduling. Most practices utilize the same system as has been in place since eyecare began. One patient is scheduled, then the next, then the next. The only thing that varies is the time between exams. This is called sequential scheduling. Have you considered stream scheduling? What if you scheduled four patients with glaucoma at the same time? One goes to OCT, one to gonio, one to pressures and one to fields? Could you also do this with patients suffering from dry eye?

What about the eye exam itself? We have known forever that the longer it takes a patient to get to the optical the less money they will spend in the optical. The traditional process is to do the complete exam on the patient, dilate them and send them into the optical to choose frames and lenses. That generally takes about 1.5 hours.

We found a practice in Texas that for over 20 years has divided the eye exam into an optical component and a medical component. The optical exam is done first including an optical consult with the doctor. The goal is to have the patient in the optical within 15 minutes of crossing the threshold into the practice. Then, after the optical portion is completed, the patient has the medical portion of today’s exam. (The patient is not dilated until the medical portion of the exam.) What is the result? Higher dollars per patient and higher capture rate. Would you consider doing this in your practice?

Just because people say “we’ve always done it that way” or “it isn’t broke, so it doesn’t need to be fixed” doesn’t mean that is the correct way to view the practice. A better way is to ask the question, “How can we do it better and more efficiently?” That’s how progress occurs.

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