Article Date: 7/1/2013

Measuring Technology Success in Your Practice
devices

Measuring Technology Success in Your Practice

Six criteria determine a device’s worth.

CRAIG THOMAS, O.D., DALLAS, TEXAS

An eyecare trade show’s technology-stacked aisles to an optometrist are often like the lanes of a toy store to a child: Initially, we want it all. While a child has a parent, or caregiver, to reign in his/her excitement for every plaything, we must rely on ourselves to decide which technology is an absolute must-have.

Here, I discuss the criteria that comprise a worthwhile device.

1 Ideal size

The technology fits comfortably in your practice. If its dimensions will, in any way, impede you, your staff and/or patients from moving smoothly throughout your practice, the device is not for you. Remember: As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Time is money.” In other words, if you can’t move through your office as effectively as possible, your ability to see as many patients as possible is hindered.

Something else to consider: You could actually lose patients to other eyecare practitioners if your practice suddenly becomes a claustrophobic environment.

2 Enhanced medical decision-making

The instrument provides desired patient data, that none of your current technology provides, which can aid in your diagnostic and treatment decisions.

One of the reasons I recently purchased an information management system is that it enables me to review all the tests from different technologies at once, giving me a complete perspective of the patient’s data. The ability to perform an analysis with side-by-side comparisons is a great clinical benefit that helps in medical decision-making.

3 Streamlined workflow

The technology increases productivity in your practice, so you can remain profitable. (As we know all too well, managed care reimbursements continue to decline, affecting the amount of time we can afford to spend on patients, instruments and miscellaneous practice tasks.) Increased productivity also means the device’s operation is easy for both you and your staff. Otherwise, purchasing it defeats its purpose. So, test-drive it yourself, and have one of your techs try it out as a representative for the rest of your staff.

Keep in mind that a new instrument can reinvigorate your staff’s excitement for their job. This translates to an increase in on-the-job happiness, which strengthens staff-patient encounters, a means of creating practice loyalty and patient referrals.

4 Improved patient education

The device enhances patient education, so you can improve patient outcomes. This, in turn, leads to an increase in patient satisfaction with the practice and patient referrals.

An image management system is an example of such technology. Because these systems enable patients to see digital, high-resolution clinical photos of their own eyes, patients become more engaged in their care vs. hearing about their condition or seeing it in a textbook photo. This “seeing is believing” experience ultimately translates to increased compliance with our prescribed treatments and follow-up appointments.

In my practice, for instance, showing contact lens patients their corneal topography map or specular endothelial photo-micrographs always makes an impression.

Something else to keep in mind: The “wow” factor associated with technology that improves patient education goes a long way in securing patient loyalty and patient referrals to your practice. “Doc, you sure have a lot of technology,” or “Doc, you’re sure keeping up with technology” are heard day-in and day-out at my practice. These comments show that patients acknowledge our efforts to stay up-to-date. Translation: Why would they go anywhere else for their eye care?

5 Return on investment

The ideal ROI is to create positive cash flow — even if it’s one dollar per month. On devices that do not produce direct fees, the ROI must be calculated on the “back-end” (i.e., increased productivity, decreased operating expenses, etc.).

6 Rekindles excitement

When learning about the device’s operation, you feel a re-invigorated passion for optometry. In other words, it re-energizes you about practicing. This may mean the technology will enable you to have more face-time with patients (on which patients place a lot of value), do more with less work, allow you to spend additional time in a specific area of practice you greatly enjoy, or something else. If you’re reinvigorated and happy, your staff and patients will be as well, and this too can lead to increased profits.

Putting it all together

Resisting those buttons and Macintosh-like smooth edges seen on many of today’s ophthalmic devices can be difficult. After all, if they look cool, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be anything else in your practice, right? As this is not the case, take a breath, and use the aforementioned criteria to guide your purchasing decision. You, your staff and your patients will all be glad you did. OM

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Dr. Thomas
has practiced in Dallas, Texas for the past 30 years. He is the owner of BMG Consulting Group and the founder of Decision-MakerPLUS.com. Dr. Thomas was named Optometrist of the Year by the Texas Optometric Association in 2001. Send comments to optometricmanagement@gmail.com.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: July 2013, page(s): 42 43