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If your office is like mine, there are times when the staff is really busy, and there are times when they aren't. I believe this is normal, and because our philosophy places high importance on patient service, we actually staff for the busier times. To keep production high and to maximize the use of staff time, our practice assigns every employee one or more specific side jobs. The side job is the employee's responsibility to manage, and the task should be worked on whenever there are no direct patient care duties. He or she owns that job. Our office manager maintains a list of employees and their side jobs and the performance of those jobs is reviewed.
If there is an undue amount of chit-chat going on (and I believe some personal conversation is normal and beneficial, if it is done in private areas), the manager can simply inquire about side jobs. There is always something to do.
Side jobs encompass a variety of duties, some rather menial in nature, but all are important in keeping the office looking good and running efficiently. If the job is small, one employee might have several. Some of the side jobs we use are:
Slower times in the office are also excellent opportunities for staff training, which I believe is something that never ends. And sometimes a necessary part of training is simply practicing. Technicians can practice on each other to improve their skills in using pre-test instruments, or inserting and removing contact lenses on another person. Staff can also work individually on tasks they could be better at - like measuring parameters of RGP lenses, neutralizing glasses on a manual lensometer - especially with prism or progressive lenses, spotting and marking the segments on progressive lenses, restringing a rimless frame, etc. Having a staff member observe a co-worker in another department is also time well spent. It fosters better inter-department cooperation and can even lead to cross training of duties.
- Check and restock all paper towel and soap dispensers
- Check and restock brochures and paper forms in all exam rooms, dispensing area and waiting area
- Return contact lenses that were defective or exchanged for credit
- Return frames and lenses that were returned under warranty for credit
- Check the "to-be-dispensed" cabinet drawers for glasses and contacts that need to be picked up, and call overdue patients to remind them
- Make follow-up phone calls to patients who picked up their glasses in the past 2 weeks to see how they are doing.
- Check the accounts receivable list and call patients and insurance companies about balances
- Confirm tomorrow's appointments
- Check every frame on our displays to see if it is in standard adjustment (so they feel better when they are tried on)
- Clean all clinical instruments (we prefer to have our staff do this rather than our janitorial service)
- Clean all mirrors and counter surfaces in dispensary
- Check office supply inventory - contact lens inventory - drug inventory - solution inventory - and order as needed
- Straighten waiting room, organize magazines and make fresh coffee
- Check and stock rest rooms
- There are many more
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
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Dr. Gailmard offers consulting services to eye care professionals through Prima Eye Group; information is available at www.primaeyegroup.com.
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