Article Date: 2/1/2011

How to Succeed in 2011
fix this practice

How to Succeed in 2011

Use the steps outlined here to create a more successful practice.

Richard S. Kattouf, O.D., D.O.S.

Q As we begin 2011, can you share the most important things to concentrate on to build a financially thriving practice?

Dr. T.L. Whidon
via e-mail

A: It is always a challenge to offer a single list of areas to concentrate on due to the fact that not all practices are the same. However, if we look at practices in general, I recommend the following:

Develop awareness. As a practice owner, you must have check-and-balance systems to oversee each employee and your entire operation. This prevents embezzlement of time, product and money.
Review profit and loss (P&L) statements. Study your P&L statements monthly to control your percentage of salaries-to-gross and cost-of-goods and to increase net profit. If you don't get on the scale regularly, your weight can balloon. The same thing is true of your expenses.
Give employee performance reviews. Review of employee performance is a great idea. Instead of automatic annual raises, implement a profit share that is based on performance (merit).
Communicate. If you want your patient recall efficiency to climb to 60% while your competition is at 20%, you must establish specific intra-office scripts for all procedures performed by techs and doctors. Often, consumers perceive that their visit with you is all about contact lenses and glasses. Your scripts “right” this misconception by educating patients about tests and procedures. They also motivate and raise enthusiasm. Effective scripts include the answers to these three patient questions:

1. What are you doing to me?
2. Why are you doing this to me?
3. Why must this procedure be performed?

All scripts must include sound medical reasoning.

Upgrade your office. Study each room in your office, including the restroom. If they are not immaculate and professional looking, you have work to do. Each year, consider upgrading furniture or investing in a new instrument. These upgrades send the message to your patients that you are investing in the practice, and, therefore, providing them with the best care.
Pay attention to detail. Pay attention to your personal appearance. Also, understand your employees are appendages of you. Their appearance and language must be professional. Prohibit excessive hair, visible tattoos and poor hygiene.
Develop a policy manual that works. Simply having standard operating procedures in a manual is meaningless. You need a clear set of easily understood boundaries. Staff must read the manual, and agree (in writing) to all policies. Review and amend the information as necessary.
Revise medical fees. Do not use Medicare maximum schedule as your guide. Set your medical fee schedule at the level of ophthalmology in your region. Typically, non-medicare insurance companies have a higher reimbursement limit than Medicare.
Train staff. Most doctors do not schedule training regularly. To work for me, staff must take a 72-hour course and pass tests. The results of such training set you above the competition.

If you implement all the above, you will experience high staff morale, reduced stress, greater efficiency, productivity and profit. Translation: a more successful practice. 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: February 2011