Dec. 2, 2015
Your practice mission statement can help you to maintain superior care and steer a course to success–but it only if you live it and breathe it. Gary Gerber, OD; Mary E. Boname, OD, MS, FAAO; and Matthew Alpert, OD, share their mission statements and reveal how this keeps them on track to succeed.
Live and Breathe Your Mission Statement
Provide Exceptional Patient Care Every Time
We Are Consumer-Patient Driven
Gary Gerber, OD, Chief Dream Officer at The Power Practice and host of The Power Hour talk radio show, says the vast majority of practice owners he encounters fall short on a mission statement. They don’t know their mission statement by heart, don’t have staffs who know it by heart, and their patients probably wouldn’t be able to say what the practice is about.
In reality, a mission statement is essential–if it has meaning and relevance.
“You really need to use it, execute it and breathe it,” Dr. Gerber says.
The mission statement of The Power Practice is “our doctors have to succeed,” he points out.
“Our doctors have to succeed. That’s what we do,” he explains. “If you have a mission statement in your office that says you’re going to be the premier provider of optometry in your town, you have to do it. You can’t just say it, or your mission statement just becomes white noise and some words hanging on the wall.”
Mary E. Boname, OD, MS, FAAO, owner of Montgomery Eyecare, promises in her practice’s mission statement to “provide exceptional patient care every time I see the patient. It isn’t good enough to meet somebody’s expectations. I have to exceed their expectations, and I have to do it every time I see them.”
First impressions are important, but Dr. Boname says that providing a consistently exceptional experience is even more important. “Part of what my patients have come to expect is when they come in, I’m not going to immediately ask them to cover one eye at a time and have them read the smallest line on a chart. I want to get caught up on what may have changed with their health, their life, since I last saw them, and whether they have any new concerns about their eyes and vision,” she says.
Dr. Boname says taking the time to get to know, and to have in-depth conversations with, her patients, is well worth it. Her patients are so satisfied with their care that they frequently refer friends and family.
In addition to interacting in a meaningful way with patients, Dr. Boname, and each of her staff members, understand that they need to pitch in whenever–and however–necessary to provide exceptional service. Dr. Boname says she doesn’t hesitate to jump in and check out a patient if her receptionist and optician are occupied serving another patient.
“When you’re a practice owner, you have to know how to do everything. I can provide the care, and I can bill for the patient care I provide, and I can file an insurance claim, and I think every doctor has a responsibility to know how to do that,” she says.
Dr. Boname’s grandfather, a general practitioner who had a small town practice for 65 years, is her muse, and the inspiration for her practice. She has photos displayed in her office of her grandfather, along with relics like his first pair of glasses, and a framed Hippocratic Oath given to him by a pharmaceutical rep while he was in practice. Patients receive postcards with her grandfather’s picture when it’s time for their next appointment.
“My inspiration for my practice came from my grandfather and his practice, and how he took care of generations of patients,” says Dr. Boname. “He was so intertwined. You’re intertwined in the lives of your patients when you live where you practice.”
Matthew Alpert, OD, owner of Alpert Vision Care, in Woodland Hills, Calif., and Wink Optometry in Calabasas, Calif., found the inspiration for his practice mission statement by incorporating the mission statements from other practices he knew of and admired.
“What it boils down to is we are consumer-driven,” says Dr. Alpert. “What I try to influence and get across to my staff is the patient is doing us a favor by coming into our office, and allowing us to provide them with care and products. We are not doing the patient a favor by allowing them to come in.”
Dr. Alpert says he emphasizes to his staff that the patients are the main drivers of the practice. With that in mind, he trains his staff to never fight with patients. “Don’t fight the patient tooth and nail on anything,” he advises. “Try to remedy the situation before it’s a problem.”
In the era of the online review, Dr. Alpert says negative interactions with patients aren’t worth it. “When you get a bad review, you probably have a good sense of who that person was when they were in your office, and why they were upset,” says Dr. Alpert. “Don’t let it happen. Cut it off at the pass. If they want a refund, give them their money back. Don’t invite problems and negative responses.”
Dr. Alpert regularly discusses how to address challenging patient situations in staff meetings, so that staff now often are able to handle difficult patient interactions on their own.
“Now, staff will say, ‘I just wanted to let you know I took care of this problem because I said myself what would Dr. Alpert have wanted me to do,'” he explains. “Make the patient happy; lemons to lemonade, and make the practice successful.”