Article Date: 1/1/2008

Outsource Your Pain
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Outsource Your Pain

Does your staff need to handle all activities, or is there another solution?

GARY GERBER, O.D.

Doctors routinely tell me: "The biggest obstacle to growing my practice is I just can't find good people," or "I know I need more staff, but no one wants to work here."

Optometrists often view their staff as superhuman individuals who will be able to handle whatever task the O.D. throws at them. Unfortunately, in the interest of protecting their jobs, few employees will tell you, "I'm too busy to do this." Instead, they do the their best with the pile of tasks before them — starting most and effectively finishing few.

Overburdening your team is dangerous and obviously ineffective because every staff person — even the genuine superhuman ones — have limits. For that reason, consider sending some of the requisite work out of your office.

Time for outsourcing?

Once thought of as only appropriate for large worldwide corporations, outsourcing is now within reach for any office that has an Internet connection. Here are a few ideas and companies to consider:

RECALL. By electronically polling your practice-management software, companies, such as www.datappointment.com and www.4patientcare.com, can efficiently manage your recall system for you. Of course, while these companies are doing this, your receptionist is free to help patients in your office, or your optical staff is free to sell a second pair of glasses.

Alternatively, several of our clients have "virtual administrators" who are ‘stay at home’ moms. These people manage the doctors recall systems and do other busy work, such as coding, via a remote computer. So, your practice might be in San Diego, Calif., but your virtual administrator may be contacting your patients from St. Louis, Mo.

Overburdening your team is dangerous …

PAYROLL. Even for small offices, the time you might spend calculating tax deductions and making bank deposits is best left to others. Several reputable companies are available for this, and you can find one via a quick Internet search or phone call to a colleague. One caveat: Personally sign payroll checks, and scan the checks for any aberrations.

BILLING. A billing service is another outsourcing service to consider. Like payroll services, hundreds of billing services are available. Consider that the cost you might pay to have someone do your billing outside your office is typically offset by better collection efforts. Of course, if someone does this outside your office, you save on in-office payroll. In our consulting company's experience, this is one service that quickly pays for itself with the benefits of increased and timely cash flow.

PRACTICE BUILDING. Finally, there's no way I can write this without sounding self-serving, so with that as a disclaimer, consider outsourcing your general practice-building tasks by working with a reputable consulting company. A consultant who takes the time to understand your practice can steer you toward, and work together with, public-relations companies, software vendors and others who will help you tackle your pile of "great practice-building ideas" that have been sitting on your desk for the last several years. They can also work with you to develop, and stick to, a long-term strategic practice-growth plan.

Of course, you need to monitor the performance of any outsourcing service you might use. Rarely are these things "auto-pilot" ventures. That said, it's still worth investigating whether this model might be right for your practice, as the time you spend monitoring the efficacy of outsourcing is much less than actually executing the individual tasks. OM


DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM, OR CALL DR. GERBER AT (800) 867-9303.



Optometric Management, Issue: January 2008