Article Date: 2/1/2001

Your Top 50
Patients, that is. Do you know who they are and what they need?
From the Executive Editor, Larisa Hubbs

Wouldn't it be great to know which of your services your top 50 patients appreciate most?" Bob Levoy frequently asks his audience members.

A lecturer to Fortune 500 companies and numerous healthcare providers of all kinds, Bob has been around the block quite a few times when it comes to helping others serve their customers' and patients' needs.

And what he's discovered from decades of consulting and market research is that the first step in attaining success is getting to know your patients' needs and expectations.

Not such a daunting task

Sounds simple enough, but it can be a daunting task with no clear starting point. If you're like the average optometrist who completes about 3,229 exams a year, that's a lot of faces to remember.

So start small, Bob suggests. Create this list by having yourself and your staff do a little exercise. Write down your top 50 patients.

You know who they are: They're the ones who've been with your practice for years. They bring their entire families to you. They buy their eyeglasses and contact lenses from you.

Compare your list to those your staffers have completed and pare the names to the elite final 50.

This list will provide a good base of influential opinions to tap.

(Of course, if you have a large practice, go for the top 100. If you have a small one, target your top 20.)

Now what?

These are your practice's movers and shakers. Their opinions are gold.

Have your staff get to know them. Just knowing their names alone could avoid embarrassment.

"For example," Bob explains, "can you imagine how one of these patients would feel if he called for an appointment and the receptionist asked 'Are you a patient here?'"

Use this list to conduct short (two- to four-question), targeted practice surveys to find out what services these patients value most, how they perceive your staff, what they would change about your office, etc.

Always cater to their needs. "If one of them calls for an appointment and you don't have one open, make one," Bob explains. "Just reschedule the other patient."

The bottom line is: You can't afford to lose these patients.

Our own elite list

Great advice from someone who knows. Bob Levoy is but one of the fine people who joins the elite doctors and practice management consultants this month on our revamped editorial board.

We'll tap into this list of top talent ourselves to provide you with cutting-edge advice that you can put to the test to help your practices become better than ever.

(Bob Levoy's new book, 101 Secrets of a High-Performance Optometric Practice, will be available soon from Butterworth-Heinemann.)

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2001