Article Date: 8/1/2013

Patients Say, "Wow"
practice profile
THE UNIQUE SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

Patients Say, “Wow”

By implementing new technology, we distinguish ourselves from other rural practices.

DORI CARLSON, O.D., PARK RIVER & GRAFTON, N.D.

My husband, Mark Hegelson, O.D., and I own two practices in rural North Dakota. To positively differentiate ourselves from other eyecare practices in our area, we have made implementing new technology a priority. That said, we don’t spend our hard-earned dollars on just any new toy. Instead, we use patient statistics and practice need to guide our decision-making process. This has resulted in a “wow” factor for patients, the reinforcement that patients are receiving the best care — both of which have created patient loyalty and referrals — and an ever-increasing streamlined practice.

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Dr. Carlson says her patients think her practice is cool, as it always includes the latest technology.

Impressing patients

Recently, we installed EHR-integrated review software, which enables us to go over retinal imaging, corneal imaging, etc. with patients via a digital tablet. Patients appreciate the ability to see these images while we explain our findings to them, as doing so facilitates their understanding of their eye health. This, in turn, leads to an increase in compliance to our prescribed management (e.g. treatment and follow-up visits). In addition, patients are thankful that this technology gives them more face time: Sometimes, when accessing an EHR system through a desktop computer, the doctor’s back is turned to the patient.

In terms of streamlining practice, the information is now portable, making its review in areas other than the exam room possible. For instance, if the exam rooms are being used, one can access the information in special testing areas for consultation.

Further, we recently purchased a digital refraction system. Patients have expressed awe regarding its wavefront technology and fast operation. (Prior to this purchase, patients would comment on how refraction hadn’t changed since they were children.) For our part, the system has alleviated ergonomic issues, such as back and neck pain, often associated with refraction.

Streamlining via the cloud

Having two office locations that are 15 miles apart, we decided to implement a cloud-based EHR. This way, we could efficiently access a patient’s chart regardless of which location he/she presents. In addition, my husband and I liked the idea of being able to enter the EHR via the Internet, should any sort of question or emergency arise while we are at home or traveling, without the need for any special software. In particular, patients really appreciate this capability when they call after hours.

The outcome

Overall, these new technologies have impressed patients, facilitated patient education, allowed for additional one-on-one time with patients for recommendations regarding their ocular and visual health and have increased the organization of our practice processes.

To distinguish your practice from others, assess the statistics of your patient base and the needs of your doctors and staff to make changes that resonate with your overall practice. For us, these changes have come from the addition of needed technology. For you, it may be something else. The point is, don’t blend in. Stand out. OM

DO YOU HAVE A UNIQUE PRACTICE? E-MAIL JENNIFER.KIRBY@PENTAVISIONMEDIA.COM, OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: August 2013, page(s): 72