Article Date: 9/1/2013

Street Smarts
Street Smarts

What Makes A Great Tech?

By Dan Beck, OD Leland, N.C.

images Dr. Beck is a 1993 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. You can reach him at

ANY doc who’s been practicing for a while knows the value of a great tech. I’m not talking about techs who refract and perform application tonometry and assess contact lenses behind the slit lamp. Nor am I talking about techs who perform OCT scans and take great Optos images. I’m not even referring to techs who meticulously review the previous patient records and verbally remind us Mrs. Jones has a sensitivity to fluorescein dye. While a great tech should be able to do all of those things with skill and vigor, those tasks aren’t what make a good tech a great one. The quality that makes a great tech great is not forgetting the basics.

Having to go find a tech or, heaven forbid, having to perform a forgotten task ourselves can take several minutes. Over the course of a busy day, even a few neglected tests can wreak havoc, leaving the whole office way behind schedule.

I work in several offices and interact with many techs. Over the past 2 weeks, I compiled a list of the tasks they forgot to do. See if any of your techs share the same pitfalls.

The “I Forgot” List:

■ I forgot to dilate.

■ I forgot to read the patient’s glasses.

■ I forgot to check for a progressive lens.

■ I forgot to perform stereo testing on a patient with new double vision.

■ I forgot to perform topography on a new contact lens patient.

■ I forgot to have the patient remove his contact lenses before performing tonometry.

■ I forgot to have the patient remove his contact lenses before getting an auto refraction.

■ I forgot to take retinal photos of a diabetic patient.

■ I forgot not to dilate a patient who needed gonioscopy.

After tallying everything up, the techs collectively wasted more than 90 minutes. That may not seem like a lot of time over the course of 2 weeks, but if several of those little memory lapses occur on the same day, you could end up missing lunch or being late for dinner. Those patients twitching in the waiting room won’t be happy either.

While we all make mistakes and we’re all guilty of the occasional brain freeze, the techs that keep them to a bare minimum are worth their weight in gold. They keep us moving and don’t allow their actions to interrupt patient fl ow. The great techs help me stick to my motto: “provide the best possible care and get the patients out the door as quickly as possible.” nOD

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2013, page(s): S-7