Optometric Management Tip # 147 - Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Many Reasons for Exam Efficiency
Many doctors have a goal to delegate more clinical procedures, hire and train more staff, and buy automated
instrumentation – as soon as their practice gets busy enough to warrant it. In my opinion, waiting is a mistake.
The patient volume will come if the doctor makes the first move. Making your clinical procedures efficient has
more benefits than you may realize, and those benefits have nothing to do with handling lots of patients.
Consider these valuable, but often-overlooked reasons to be efficient at all times:
- The less time spent in the exam area… the more time (and money) spent in the optical
Patients have busy lives and allocate just so-much time to spend at the eye doctor’s office, and they often
underestimate this time. If you make the patient wait a bit, then take an hour for the exam, chances are he won’t
spend much time in your optical. He may get started in the optical, but not have time to select a second pair, or
listen to the various lens options that are available. He may just ask for his Rx. There is a lot to cover in
optical – and if the patient is tired or rushed, he will cut it short. That can have a huge effect on your bottom
line. Your exam actually can be thorough and quick at the same time. I don’t buy into the belief that you must
spend a lot of time to charge a high exam fee. Who says patients want eye exams to take long time? They actually
don’t. It’s boring and they’d like to get it over with.
- The reputation-building effect of a busy office
A busy practice just looks successful! If you arrange your existing patient load into fewer days, and design your
practice to handle the busier volume efficiently, your patients will think you must be the best optometrist in the
area! That appearance of success just breeds more success.
- High-tech instruments are great practice builders
People judge quality of service by what they can see. If they see cool looking technology, they are impressed.
They also tell others about it. If patients only see the same things they’ve seen before in eye care, they tell
no one and they may look around for something better next time.
- Organizing your work week to allow some non-patient days allows you to focus on practice management tasks
and staff training
An optometric practice is a business, even though most ODs spend very little time on that side of it. Scheduling
specific time to work on the business will pay big dividends. Successful businesses don’t run themselves and
doctors must wear two hats. You can and should have an office manager, but the doctor plays a key leadership role
in the business also.
- You are ready to move into higher volume as it builds
Maintaining high quality service while managing a high volume of patients takes a lot of effort. It doesn’t happen
overnight. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll learn from them. Fine tune your clinical and administrative procedures
before the demand is really big.
- No-shows are not a big inconvenience if the appointment slots are shorter
A no-show in many practices can ruin the day. Not so if you place your appointment slots closer together. You and
your staff may actually welcome an occasional no show.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management