Article Date: 11/1/2007

The Problem With The Non-Doctoral
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The Problem With The Non-Doctoral

We all have a limited number of energy units. Don't waste yours.

RICHARD S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.

Q I never have time to complete anything. I have 10 to 15 minutes between patients, and I'm busy doing "things," but never seem to accomplish what I want. Any solutions?

Dr. E.D. Thomas via e-mail

A: Dear Dr. Thomas,

Many doctors get involved in 'non-doctoral" duties, and they're unaware of the problems and consequences that develop as a result. Some of the tasks I've observed:

► Problem #1: Doctor who stays in the front office.

During several on-site consultations, I observed doctors hanging around the front office. They're interfering with well-trained staff.

Do you ever see an internist cardiologist or pediatrician so involved in the front office? Just 30 seconds earlier, the O.D. diagnosed and treated an ocular disease, and now he's playing the role of the receptionist. It's unprofessional, unnecessary and destroys your image as a "real" doctor.

The staff is very vocal about the problems created by this: lower staff moral, lack of empowerment, lack of trust, doctor over-riding his own standards of performance (S.O.P.s) to satisfy the patient.

The O.D.'s insistence on staying in the front office takes away time from medical reports and projects. We all have a limited number of energy units. Don't waste yours performing staff duties.

Don't waste energy units performing staff duties.

► Problem #2: Optometrist rarely uses nice office.

You all know that I'm a champion of "awareness" and the state patrolman concept. This by no means requires the following:

(1) O.D. "huddling" with employees about personal issues.

(2) O.D. on the telephone ordering spectacles or contact lenses.

(3) O.D. insisting on buying office supplies himself.

Number one (above) is a cardinal sin. There must be a well defined demarcation between owner and staff. When the line doesn't exist or it's "blurred," the owner loses control.

You must delegate numbers two and three to ancillary personnel.

The solution to the above problems is critical. As owners you have an obligation to adequately train staff and set S.O.P.s.

When you've met your obligation, allow your staff to function without your interference. If you don't empower them, they'll perceive it as a lack of trust. This will lead to low moral, staff turnover, decreased efficiency, productivity and profitability.

► Problem #3: Doctor does not release the patient to the optician in a timely manner.

(1) O.D. takes patient to a frame board. Optician is waiting for the "hand-off" but doctor goes into a 10-minute explanation of frames and lens enhancements.

Again, in problem #3 the doctor is wearing a hat that should be totally delegated. It's great for the O.D. to instruct the optician as to specifically what he's ordering, directing and prescribing. This is a 30- to 60- second function. Allow the optical staff to use their skills.

It's impossible for you, the doctor, to be imaginative and creative when you're burning all your energy units on tasks that you've delegated. Some O.D.'s tell me they're afraid staff will make mistakes or loose patients. If you train the employee properly — and there is a system of checks and balances — leave her alone.

Also, decrease the time frame in between patients. If you develop more streamlined scheduling and delegate to a higher level to technicians, you should not have 10 to 15 minutes between patients. OM


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.



Optometric Management, Issue: November 2007