By Ellen B. Goad, LDO
Electronic record systems help doctors in the exam room—but they also allow your optical staff to provide personalized service and capture more revenues. Here’s how to make your EHR system part of the sales team in your dispensary.
When patients are in your dispensary, how much information is easily available to opticians about their past purchases and any adjustments or corrections made to previous eyewear orders? If your opticians are attentive and have good memories, this information is already at their fingertips. But most opticians, no matter how good their intentions, need help with such details. That help is available with electronic records systems, like the OfficeMate ExamWRITER software our office uses. The technology enables opticians to call up in an instant the details they need to serve patients better in the dispensary and make the sales that boost revenues. Here are some of the key advantages this technology offers to our dispensary:
Mind Protected Information in Dispensary
If a staff member such as an optician is doing a job that does not require access to protected health information, then ODs must restrict access to just the information needed to do the job.
This is relatively easy with software programs and hard to do with paper records. Training of all staff is required by HIPAA rules. The two key HIPAA rules that apply to use of records in the optical are called (1) Incidental Uses and Disclosures and (2) Minimum Necessary. —ROB Editors
Ability to Anticipate Patient Needs
EHR means never having to look for a chart which beats the old “system” of opticians writing orders down on 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 cards or stock order forms folded into paper charts. EHR offers a permanent record of all of your patients’ interactions with your optical. For example, a patient with a challenging history with progressives would have it in her chart that a past eyeglasses order had to be redone due to incorrect segment height, PD or painful non-adapt. That information allows the optician to work more effectively with the doctor and patient to create eyeglasses that work the first time.
Improved Ability to Measure all Facets of Optical
Electronic records give you the ability to measure–and manage–many areas of your optical. We have key indicators that I look at on a monthly basis. Through OfficeMate I am able to review the following – all of which are crucial to optical management:
A. Number of frames sold per month
B. Profitability of frames sold
C. Number of progressives, traditional bifocals and single-vision eyeglasses sold
D. Lens material–CR39, Poly, Hi-Index, Trivex, or glass–used to make eyeglasses
E. Percentage of AR finish sold
F. Total complete pairs of eyeglasses sold
G. Lenses only to POF (patient-owned frame)
H. Second pairs
I. Frame – cost of goods
J. Ophthalmic lenses – cost of goods
K. Optical miscellaneous – Cost of goods (cleaner, cloths, leap pads, nose pads, screws, cases, anything associated with the needs of the optical.)
L. Amount of discounts given and the qualifications for each of the discounts such as military or senior citizen discounts or special offers of a percentage off a second pair of lenses or a percentage off a second pair of frames.
M. Net profit of the optical
Electronic records allow you to input inventory-related numbers such as total number of frames on your board and number of frames belonging to each brand and to each price point. After inputting that data, the EHR system is then able to run reports that give you information on which frames need to be reordered and which are under-performing and can be phased out. This functionality allows you to look up at anytime the total worth of your frame board which in turn allows you to calculate your budget for new inventory. It also allows you to double-check that frames are being added in and removed on time–according to the numbers.
Facilitates Patient Satisfaction Follow-Up
One week from the date of dispensing eyewear we can easily run an OfficeMate report listing all patients who picked up their eyewear on that date. We then can call all of those patients to find out how they are doing with their new eyewear. Most of the time we get very positive responses – however, I am most interested in finding those who might need to be counseled into coming back in and having an adjustment, or those who need to see the doctor again. EHR makes it easier to track patients beyond the point when they pick up their eyewear, thereby increasing the chances they leave happy and return next year.
Measure Key Point Indicators with EHR
For our practice, measuring key point indicators such as number of lenses, frames and second pairs sold, seemed overwhelming (and it was) until we implemented electronic records.
With our EHR, it’s a few clicks and we have all the numbers we need. With the help of our EHR, we found that we were not selling the number of frames that we thought we were and that we also needed to do a deep dive into our pricing formula.
We weren’t clearing the percentage of profit that we wanted to have. Tracking lenses helped us to see a large opportunity for growth in more technologically savvy lenses. I could not believe the percentage of patients who were still in flattops or hard design progressives. It took some doing but now we are 94 percent freeform “high definition” vision and climbing. Another area of opportunity that came about from tracking was our anti-reflective finish sales. We steadily grew from 72 percent to a fantastic 90 percent and we have put in measures to be 100 percent this year. I am excited to learn of opportunities like this, it makes my doctor very happy. An 18 percent growth in AR sales equals several thousand dollars to the bottom line.
Ellen B. Goad, LDO, is practice manager at Thomas Eye Center in Athens, Ga. To contact her: Ellen.Goad@thomaseyecenter.com