BUSINESS: business strategies
Scrutinize Your Systems
Have the smarts and courage to change how you do things
gary gerber, o.d.
Checking into a hotel and visiting an O.D.’s office is a similar process. Approach the front desk, (hopefully) receive a warm greeting, answer a question or two, and then receive and complete paperwork. Of course, in our highly regulated world, the amount of paperwork is usually much more than a credit card number. But from a big-picture perspective, the procedures are similar. I recently had a very different experience while vacationing in London.
A new check-in experience
A bell hop, door man and the check-in person all greeted me when I pulled up to the hotel (even as a magician-mentalist, I can’t explain how they knew I was pulling up). After a warm welcome, the check-in person said, “You can leave everything here — just follow me to your room.” I avoided the check-in desk entirely. Once in my room, I signed the typical hotel paperwork. My credit card was returned, I was given the key, and I was done. While this happened, my luggage was brought to my room.
The big difference here isn’t the avoidance of a check-in line, but getting my vacation started faster (albeit, in reality, it was only a minute or two, but the perception is what counts), easier and very differently than I’ve ever experienced. And the big lesson isn’t about welcoming patients in our hotel (examination) rooms and bypassing the front desk — although that’s a great idea — it’s about having the smarts and courage to change how you do things.
Use the patient’s perspective
Examine all the processes in your office, and look for things that, from a patient’s perspective, can be improved. You shouldn’t stop offering HIPAA documentation or the requisite insurance payment forms. But while patients, you and your staff lament about the volume of documentation, have you ever considered where the paperwork is completed instead of focusing on how to have fewer forms?
For example, what if the patient could complete documentation online in advance of the visit, and any forms not amenable to this were filled by the patient in the exam or pre-test room, thereby avoiding the dreaded “waiting room where I complete reams of paper and then wait forever to see the doctor” experience?
Taking a critical look at each system in your practice and seeing whether you can improve any of the “what, where, when, who, how and why” will lead to efficiencies.
Classically, we tend to only focus on the “how.” HOW can we see more patients? HOW can we speed the check-out process, etc.? Looking at the other aspects of each process, just like the hotel did, will uncover some very interesting possibilities!
Capturing the “when”
Another example is the oft discussed “capture rate” relating to patients who buy eyeglasses from your practice vs. going elsewhere. Much has already been written about what frames to carry, how to talk to patients, etc. But what about examining the “when” part of the eyeglass process? We recently increased a client’s capture rate by more than 50% via devising a technique to execute the frame selection process BEFORE the eye examination! Nothing else was changed: same inventory, technology and staff. Yet simply changing the order of things yielded great results. OM
Optometric Management, Volume: 49 , Issue: August 2014, page(s): 58