Article Date: 8/1/2011

The Real Benchmarks Are Your Own

The Real Benchmarks Are Your Own

Cookie-cutter benchmarks might get some results, but only customized consultation prepares your practice to succeed in the coming decade.

Special Section Series Sponsored by ODLean

You're preparing your practice for a future of reduced reimbursement, so you search online and find blogs filled with benchmarking tips and strategies. Practice consultants offer standardized ratios and formulas. You can see how your practice compares to benchmark data in other practices. But can any of this information help you make your practice thrive?

Instead of relying on standard tips and benchmarks, the ODLean program takes a different approach with excellent results, focusing on YOUR practice's potential.

Case in Point

What works for one practice might not work for yours. Three years ago, the ODLean team saved one doctor thousands of dollars by recommending that he halt plans to move to a new facility.

“Other consultants told him that every million in gross requires 1,000 square feet of space. To increase his gross, their benchmark said he needed a bigger place. He was a day away from signing a lease for a new facility and getting new equipment and staff,” recalls Tony Milian, ODLean Practitioner. “Instead of using a typical layout-based benchmark approach, we did analytics for the practice and helped the doctor implement a system that eliminated patient waiting and reduced patients' total time in the office by 30 to 40%. With no waiting, patient satisfaction increased.”

The ODLean team also found that the practice's staff was utilized at only 60 to 65% of their working potential, so they recommended changes that ultimately raised that number to around 85%. With a smooth patient flow and more delegation to staff, the practice's doctors comfortably went from 18 patients per day to 32.

“The doctor is sitting in the same footprint, seeing dramatically higher patient volume and income without moving or adding equipment or staff. He didn't realize that was possible,” Mr. Milian says. “It's a systemic approach that looks past tight spaces and crowded waiting rooms to address patient flow, rather than giving off-the-shelf ratios for square footage.”

Even practices that look the same on paper need different solutions. A year ago, two doctors with practices in the same town participated in an ODLean workshop. They were experiencing the same challenge: patients backed up at checkout. The ODLean team found an issue in the optical area at one practice, while the other had a problem at the front desk/checkout. Mr. Milian explains, “If we had given them the same advice, then one of them would have failed. There is no blanket solution for everyone because every office has a different dynamic.”

Lean Methodology

Arriving at an individual solution requires a different kind of consultation. Where benchmarking usually mines static data from practice management software to show what has happened in the past, the ODLean team ties historic data directly into an analysis that highlights opportunities for change to help your practice reach its potential.

“We evaluate all of the elements of the patient experience—staff schedules and roles, doctor and staff time required for each activity, and videotaped patient interactions to help us evaluate the process and end results,” Mr. Milian explains.

“A method called value-stream mapping ties the data together visually, so it's clear how the practice needs to enhance the patient experience and use time better to reach goals such as increased capture rates.” Doctors get the ODLean team's analysis and recommendations, as well as help with implementation, staff education and follow-up evaluation. The process acknowledges that ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.

“If everyone made the same blanket changes based on standard tips, then people would make big mistakes,” says Mr. Milian. “You wouldn't give a patient medication just because it works for someone else—you need to diagnose that patient's specific problem first. The same goes for your practice.”

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Contact Chuck Smith at (904) 443-1081 or for more information

This article is the fourth 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: August 2011