Article Date: 11/1/2009

The "Secrets"
fix this practice

The "Secrets"

Consider these tactics to build a more successful optometric practice.

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

Q Can you share the most important things the optometrist must keep in mind to build a successful practice?

Dr. J.R. Gale
via e-mail

A: Many times I've walked down a corridor at a large vision conference and a doctor will walk with me and ask me the "one secret" to building a successful optometric practice. Actually, there is no one answer. But a number of tactics will improve your practice. Let's review some of the most important ones.

Collect your money. For every 10 patients leaving your office owing you money, six will become a collection problem. Therefore, the entire staff must have a specific payment policy. Employees must know they cannot deviate from this policy, and you, the owner/doctor, must never get involved. Allow the staff to implement the collection procedures.

Charge appropriate medical fees. The proper level is the same level that ophthalmologists charge in your region. Optometrists historically charge about half of what M.D.s charge. For patients younger than age 65, you'll be reimbursed the same as M.D.s if you charge at their level.

Schedule regular organizational meetings. Run daily owner and staff meetings to evaluate the coming day. Discuss yesterday's schedule and flow. Do you or your staff need to adjust it? Critique and praise the group. This improves the efficiency, productivity and profitability of your practice. Also, the stress of the practice will decrease. Holding such meetings teaches you and your staff to control the practice.

Conduct training sessions. Employees cannot learn through the ventilation system. Our profession is experiencing tremendous changes in medicine, ophthalmic materials and instrumentation. Therefore, you must train your staff to regarding the advancements of our profession.

Spend money to make money. Invest in a new instrument annually. Make sure all patients are scripted on the equipment. If not equipment, invest in some new furnishings.

Run a child-friendly practice. Have clean, educational toys that demonstrate your involvement in pediatric optometry. Also, involve your entire staff in the interaction with your young patients.

Become a highly visible doctor/owner. Avoid going to your private office when you aren't with patients. As the owner, you must keep a pulse on all employees and departments. This reduces stress and grows the practice.

Arrive on time. You must be one of the first people to open the practice. Too many owners arrive after a staff member has prepped the first patient. This creates a stressful situation at the onset.

Pay attention to detail. You and your staff's appearance send a non-verbal message to your patients. As a result, enforce a dress code, so everyone looks impeccable. Also, stay up to date on maintaining the look of the outside of your practice (e.g. parking lot, landscaping and cleanliness).

Stay on schedule. It's not fair to your other patients or staff to run behind schedule. So, only perform the procedures for which the patient is scheduled (re-appoint for medical or specialty care), and avoid being a "Chatty Cathy."

Keep food and personal items in their place. Employees are not to bring food, drink or pictures of their family to their work stations.

Your adherence to all the above points, or "Secrets to Success" will set your practice apart from the crowd. 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 2009