Article Date: 11/1/2013

From Low to High Tech

From Low to High Tech

Develop a plan to upgrade your practice.



The most common challenges O.D.s face with technology in their practices: what to purchase and when to implement.

Here, I explain the path to upgrading practice technology.

See through a patient's eyes.

Walk through your office to gain a patient's perspective, and note everything that could be improved. This should include:

The pre-test routine. Enter the office and greet your front desk staff. Pay attention to their words, and watch their behavior and processes. Fill out forms, and undergo pre-testing as a patient would.

The examination. Undergo an exam by your associate doctor or a doctor friend.

Enter the optical. Try frames, and let your staff take your measurements. Pay attention to how they explain the reasons you should purchase “add-ons,” such as digitally surfaced lenses and AR treatments.

Make this a fun and challenging exercise for your staff, and encourage their best performances. Also, take notes on your observations during this exercise, including each part of the process you feel can improve by adding technology.

In addition, consider recording the experience on video for review.

Evaluate the process.

After this walk-through, schedule a meeting with your staff members. Ask (don't tell) staff where they were uncomfortable. Use this information, plus your notes from this process, to determine the needed technology. Then, prioritize and discuss how each technology will pay for itself.

Your staff buys into new technology when they see the need, which leads to an increase in the likelihood that one or more devices produce a return on your investment.

Plan the purchase.

Whether the new technology is a retinal camera or topographer, several options are available, so gather your colleagues' opinions on their devices and arrange a visit to see the equipment in action.

In addition, visit your national or state association meetings to talk to the companies about pricing, and test drive the actual equipment.

Correctly implement the new technology.

Make certain your team knows what to say to patients when discussing the new technology by role-playing common scenarios. An example: how your team presents the value and copay of new retinal imaging to your patients.

Also, develop a strategy as to when to utilize the new technology in the practice. If this is unclear, you will find the device is rarely utilized.

Once you've purchased the technology, continue to regularly strategize how to use it to improve your patients' experience. The conversation should always be, “How can we make this work for our patients?” rather than, “Why doesn't this work as well as intended?”

Start small.

Keep in mind: Most offices do not transition from zero technology to high technology overnight. It is a process that requires practice assessment, research and planning.

The decision to purchase technology must be based on what is good for patients and what aids staff to better serve them. After all, what is good for the patient is good for the practice. OM


Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: November 2013, page(s): 54