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 By Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, Editor October 24, 2007 - Tip #300 
 Contact Dr. Gailmard | Subscribe | Archives | Print this issue Visit: optometricmanagement.com 
The Votes Are In for Your Favorite Tip!

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Additional Information

Here we are at Tip #300! I want to thank all the readers of my Management Tip of the Week for your loyal interest and support since the launch of this e-newsletter on January 23, 2002. Who knew this format would take off like it did when I proposed the idea to the publisher of Optometric Management magazine six years ago, and who knew I could come up with enough tips to reach 300?!

A great deal of the credit for tip topics must go to you the reader, however. The MTOTW is deployed to over 15,000 eye care professionals world wide and many readers email me every week with questions and comments. Sometimes I just receive nice words of thanks or encouragement. All that reader email inspires me with new ideas and keeps me going. I truly couldn't have done it without you.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to Vistakon as the sole sponsor for nearly all 300 tips. I think it has been a great partnership and I hope they feel the same way. I congratulate Vistakon for its unwavering support of educational projects for eye care professionals and for taking a completely hands-off approach to my article content. Never once has Vistakon implied that I should plug a product or write more often about contact lenses. They simply let me write what I want.

More thanks goes to the staff at Lippincott Williams & Wilkins VisionCare Group, E-Media Division for their editorial, technical and administrative support. There are some great people behind the scenes of this publication and I enjoy working with all of them.

OK, let's get on with this week's tip. I've tallied the votes for your favorite tip over the past ten weeks and the results were very close for the top three so I'll list them first followed by several lower vote-getters that I'll call honorable mentions. I'll include some reader comments about each tip, but most gratifying to me was the frequent statement that the tips helped your bottom line. After all, that's really the primary goal of practice management.

As most of you know, all the tips are archived at www.optometric.com, so please go to that site to read the full text of any of the following articles. Try the key word search feature to locate desired articles if you don't know the tip number.

The tip with the most votes was...
Tip #222, Pupil Dilation: A Tip to Improve Patient Flow

This tip suggested the use of the non-cycloplegic, mydriatic agent 2.5% phenylephrine to be instilled by a technician during the pre-exam work-up. I wrote a follow-up article as Tip #223. Here are some of your comments:
  • I use it on (almost) every patient over 18 and feel like it is a good compromise between my needs and the patients' needs.
  • Like you advised, when I need a "better dilation" I still put in a drop of Paremyd.
  • It makes my patient flow quicker and smoother since I seldom have to wait for the drops to take effect.
  • It allows me to take retinal photos on virtually every patient, which is a huge benefit to me in assessing eye health.
  • From a billing perspective, I feel more comfortable coding a comprehensive exam.
  • The tip has made my exams both quicker and more thorough and I feel that has improved my bottom line.
  • A real time saver.
  • No complaints from patients.
  • Allows me to do a better exam.
  • This tip made an incalculable improvement in our office service and efficiency.
Second place: Tip #1, Three Key History Questions

I was pleased to see the very first tip make it into the top vote-getters. I like the concept so much that I expanded on it as Tip # 287, A Single Question That Results in Revenue. Some of the best ideas are incredibly simple and this one proposes that a technician ask each patient during history taking "Are you planning to get new glasses today?" Finding that out in advance makes everything easier, but it seems we often just don't ask. Reader comments:
  • You're right -- it reduces awkward questions and/or misleading assumptions.
  • The advice I give is now more specific to the patient's needs.
  • It also allows me to offer suggestions to those patients not planning to buy glasses, and in many cases they do so anyway.
  • The bottom line? My bottom line is improving!
  • Prior to me including that question with our pretesting, I would often tell patients they did not need to update their glasses only to hear them say words like, "Oh, but I wanted to get new glasses, I guess I won't now." I thought I was doing them a potential favor by not burdening them with unnecessary expense. Instead, I was robbing them of the joy and satisfaction of a new look or improved lens design/feature.
Third place: Tip #214, How to Sell Second Pairs

While I'm generally against providing discounts of any kind, this tip recommends the one exception to that rule. Providing a 50% (not 20%) discount on second and third pairs of glasses results in a dramatic increase in multiple pair sales. The profitability of this program is enhanced when optical mark-ups are higher than average to begin with. I justify the dramatic discount to the patient because it's easier for us to process two pairs of glasses with the same Rx at the same time. Having an in-office lab helps this program, but some wholesale labs will provide the practice with a discount on multiple pairs at the same time, so that helps too. Reader comments:
  • This tip stands out as a real practice changer for our office.
  • Enabled us to increase growth.
  • The patients are happy and will much more likely buy a second pair from an optician who is enthusiastic knowing this sale will not be difficult.
  • We've been doing this for 18 months and I am very pleased, as is our lab, as are our frame vendors!
Honorable mentions

Here are a few of the other vote getters:
  • Tip # 290, Words Make a Difference. One reader wrote: "words are hugely important, today's column is especially powerful -- and all within everyone's grasp! As for the bar you keep elevating, my nose is bleeding!"
  • Tip #281, How Many Patients per Day? "Upon reading that tip, I made the decision to reduce my scheduled exam times, starting in July. The change netted two additional slots per day in our schedule. For various reasons, my practice growth has been relatively flat for the past year, but July was a record month for our practice. I have no doubt that your tip made the difference, as we continue to see strong numbers for the month of August."
  • Various tips that dealt with the issue of raising professional fees were cited or described in general terms. Tip numbers 24, 50, 168, 236, and 279 all have that theme.
  • Tip #64, Preventing Forgotten Orders.
  • Tip #198, Staff Issues: Useful Benchmarks.
  • Tip #288, Staff Lunch Policies.
  • This comment from an optometrist in New Delhi, India was especially poetic: "I have been regularly reading your suggestions and it is very difficult to select the best tip. I would put it differently: how would you select the best rose from a bouquet of 300 roses? I would like to see you achieve the next milestones of 600 and then 900 and many more."
Finally, because it's important to not take ourselves too seriously, I loved this vote for the favorite tip:
  • I like the weeks where it says, "there's a holiday this week, enjoy the break, no tip." :)

Best wishes for continued success,

Read Past Tips Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week

A Proud Supporter of

Send questions and comments to neil@gailmard.com.

Dr. Gailmard offers consulting services to eye care professionals through Prima Eye Group; information is available at www.primaeyegroup.com.
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