Article Date: 4/1/2011


Will Your Future Be ODLeanTM?

A new breed of consultation enhances profits and healthcare readiness with “lean principles for optometry.”

Special Section Sponsored By OD Lean

Could your practice flow more smoothly? Could it leverage its staff and physical assets more effectively? Could it be more profitable?

According to Scott Lovin, general manager of the ODLean program at The Vision Care Institute, the likely answer to all of these questions is yes. And ODLean's unique approach can help you get there.

“Utilization of lean procedures is very different from traditional practice consultation in terms of the approach. There's no effective menu of a la carte tips and strategies,” Lovin explains. “The program uses lean methodologies and flow analysis to do something dramatic: improve the patient's experience with equal or less time in the practice. Patients feel the practice revolves around them, staff utilization and leverage are high, and doctor productivity and the practice's financial base increase.”

By examining a practice's patient and staff data, combined with direct and indirect observation of the patient experience, the ODLean team delivers customized recommendations and helps implement them based on three core ideals:

1. Patient-defined value, or putting patients' perceptions first
2. Holistic approach to choreographing a practice's moving parts
3. Transformational change made easy—that is, once the practice mindset incorporates numbers 1 and 2, implementation involves simple, incremental changes.

Why Go Lean?

Every optometry practice needs profitability and preparation—profitability to survive now and preparation to succeed as the rules of healthcare change. In assessing nearly 100 practices, the ODLean team found that erratic workflows and lengthy patient wait times were preventing practices from realizing their true revenue potential.

“Doctors tell us that they're busy at certain parts of the day, but our analysis often shows they're using only 40 to 50% of their capacity,” says Lovin. “I tell them that there's a practice inside their practice and although they're paying for it, they can't access it because of how the business is running.”

Implementing the ODLean recommendations typically boosts profits both quickly and sustainably. But there are other long-term advantages as well. When you shift to a smooth, efficient, patient-driven model, you shift into the future of health care.

A familiar voice in optometry, Tommy Crooks, OD, a founder of Eye Care Associates, Inc., in Birmingham, Ala., has had the ODLean team assess 11 of the practice's 20 locations.

“ODLean's primary role is to eliminate problem business practices to increase profitability, but those fundamental efficiencies may also fit hand in glove with the shift in health care,” he explains. “We're going from the unsustainable fee-for-service system to value-driven health care. It's different from anything we've dealt with in the past. Our outcomes will be public knowledge, and insurers will base reimbursement on those outcomes. And because insurers will look for the best outcomes at the lowest cost, we will need to see more patients to sustain our profitability. That's where the ODLean program really starts to shine. It removes bottlenecks, improves patient flow, and lets us see more patients in the same amount of time. We're better off making that transition now.”

Are You Ready for ODLean?

For every minute that a patient spends waiting in your practice, she may spend $25 less with you for eyeglasses and contacts. So, if it takes you 60 minutes to move a patient through a regular visit with 15 minutes of that time spent waiting, you're risking a substantial amount of dollars and/or captures, and this is typical of the numbers the ODLean team finds in optometric practices.

ODLean can help you secure those dollars by recapturing those wasted minutes. It often requires a shift from a mindset that centers on the doctor to one that revolves around the patient's experience. Solutions can be simple but they're not easy. Easy isn't worth it. You have to be open to hearing about the problems in your practice and making changes. The changes will keep patients engaged and moving, which will boost your capture rate, patient retention and referrals, making every minute of your time more profitable. The ODLean team will show you how.

Sponsored by

Contact Chuck Smith at (904) 444-1081 for more information

This article is the first in a six-part series about ODLean, a new kind of consultation service offered through The Vision Care Institute. In the coming months, read about the innovative program and meet some of its nearly 100 clients.

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2011