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 By Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, Editor September 18, 2002 - Tip #35 
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How many patients per day?

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One of the goals of good management is to increase revenues. Increasing your practice gross income is a quick way to increase your net income, since fixed expenses do not increase very much and a significant amount falls to the bottom line. There are only a few ways to increase practice income... raise fees, sell more goods and services to the existing patients, and see more patients per day. Actually, I like the sound of all three of those factors, but this week I'll focus on seeing more patients per day.

Since I've written and lectured on the topic of delegation many times, I know there is some resistance to the idea. Doctors have developed the way they practice for a reason, and change is not always welcome. In the end - each practitioner decides how much they want to delegate, but consider the income potential of seeing just 2 more full exams per day. Let's assume that the average gross income for a patient is $300, so that gives us $600 more per day. If you work a 5 day week, your gross increased by $3,000 per week or $12,000 per month! I guess you figured out that is $144,000 per year.

If your cost of goods sold is about typical at 30%, your gross profit is still about $100,000. Now you may have to increase your staff by one person to achieve this goal, and maybe even buy some more equipment, but you have plenty to work with!

Here are some common objections to the delegation plan:

  • Not enough patient demand to see two more per day. Actually, you probably do have that much surplus in your schedule in the next couple weeks, but if not, then use the free time you have created to work on marketing projects for your practice - or get active in a civic group.
  • Increased staff means increased headaches. Managing staff is not easy, but the reward is well worth it.
  • My patients won't accept tests being done by anyone but the doctor. I don't believe that. If the doctor endorses the change and the staff, patients accept it. Actually, patients are impressed by it.
  • My staff won't accept change. Staff must know that you will support them and be fair to them during a time of change. It is best to not dictate change, but discuss the goals openly and allow staff to suggest ways to achieve them. They also must know that if a business does not find a way to grow, there can be no raises.
  • I don't want to rush patients through the exam. If you don't have to collect all the data, it will feel like you have all the time in the world for the patient. Besides, this scenario was only an increase of two patients!
Seeing 25 patients per day is no more work than seeing 10, if you have enough help. Take small steps by developing a plan to see a couple more people per day.

Best wishes for continued success,

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

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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.

Please Note: The views expressed in Management Tip of the Week do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsor.

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