Optometric Management Tip # 282   -   Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The Pretesting Bottleneck

Last week's tip about scheduling more patients per day brings up a common dilemma that most practices face as they try to increase efficiency: a bottleneck of patient flow at the point of pretesting.

The cause

As patient demand grows and as the practice attempts to process more patients per day, there is an evolution of office procedures. This includes delegating more clinical data collection, hiring more staff members, purchasing automated instrumentation, changing the appointment schedule and time allotted per exam, and adapting office space to serve new functions. These changes often occur incrementally so the financial investment and staff training can occur over time.

Since there is typically only one set of automated pretest instruments and one pretest room in the practice and since every patient receiving a full eye exam goes through pretesting, it's understandable that a bottleneck can occur. In many cases, the amount of time the doctor is spending with the patient is much less than the time spent with a technician. If the doctor is working out of two or more exam rooms (which is highly recommended for efficiency) there will be many occasions where the doctor is standing around waiting for the next patient.

Some remedies

Here are some thoughts on ways to improve patient flow through pretesting so the doctor stays busy. Remember that the potential increase in revenue that occurs when you see more patients per day is very great, so it behooves us to think big.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management