Article Date: 4/1/2009

Capture, Transcribe, Train
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Capture, Transcribe, Train

Use this "high-tech" system to ensure you properly train your staff.

GARY GERBER, O.D.

A fine restaurant uses a system to ensure its cooks prepare dishes — not only the way they taste, but the way the way they look — the same way every time. Using the same "high tech" system, we can ensure we train our staffs properly. If you think you can't afford, or won't know how to use this technology, read on!

All practice owners have realized inconsistencies: one employee answers the phone correctly while another never does. A patient receives incomplete, or worse, incorrect directions regarding how to care for their contact lenses. A consistent, reproducible experience — be it the distance of the steak from the perfectly shaped scoop of potatoes or the greeting at your front desk — is critical to any organization's success.

Recipes and "plating"

Restaurants achieve consistency through quite simple means. First, the chef constructs a recipe for the cook to follow, ensuring that the food is prepared the same way each time, regardless of who makes it. The next step is what chefs refer to as "plating" or, how the food is visually arranged for maximal positive presentation. To achieve consistent plating, the restaurant takes photographs of the perfect dish and attaches them to their respective recipes.

Using nothing more than a word processor and video camera, here's how your practice can achieve the same consistent training as a fine restaurant. And rest assured, this system will not cause any disruptions to your typical work day.

The system at work

Video a few typical patient encounters. Keep the office open, closing might create a less-than-realistic production. While respecting patient privacy, create a DVD of tasks such as the greeting, escorting a patient to the exam room, selling eyeglass frames, explaining contact lens instructions, describing how a patient's insurance works (or doesn't) and anything else that requires documentation.

I recommend concentrating on one task per day and shooting several of the same type of encounters. So, if you want to work on having the room set up properly for a glaucoma follow-up visit, video one after another until you have four or five encounters recorded.

Edit the encounter

Next, either choose the best of the sequences you've recorded, or edit sequences to stitch together the perfect encounter. Of course, you could stage this "perfect" encounter but doing so means you'd have to block out specific time to do so. Besides, if you're already seeing patients who need the service for which you want to train, why create another reason for not video recording? ("I don't have time to shoot theses DVD's.")

Next, transcribe the edited clip as though it were a movie script. Highlight key areas that are absolutely not open to interpretation (the "recipe and plating" section). Once this is done, then consider shooting a staged encounter to test your script. This step might not be necessary, but it's advisable to ensure perfection. If you need further edits, repeat the above process and re-shoot some real patient encounters. Again, since you're doing this during the course of a normal day, it won't require extra time.

The final test

To ensure compliance, cut and paste key items from your transcript and compose a test. Test both new and current employees to ensure they are sticking to your recipe for success! 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: April 2009