Article Date: 5/1/2004

business advisor
Enhancing Practice Productivity
Simple ideas to help improve this area.
By Jerry Hayes, O.D.

How does doctor productivity affect a practice? Hayes Consulting performed an in-depth survey of 100+ optometrists that compared the time doctors spent in their practice to the dollars they produced. "Revenue Per O.D. Hour" (below) outlines the results.

Looking at O.D. numbers

Higher doctor productivity is a function of seeing more patients or charging higher fees or a combination of both. Not surprisingly, the higher the hourly production of the doctor, the more the practice grossed and netted.

High netting O.D.s (more than 31% of gross) also outproduced low netting O.D.s in all three size categories. At the extreme ends of the scale, O.D.s who practiced in large, high-net practices outproduced O.D.s in small, low net practices $394 per hour to $207 -- a ratio of almost 2 to 1.

Higher doctor productivity leads to higher nets and larger gross dollars. We can attribute this to seeing more patients, charging higher fees or a combination of these.

Small versus large

In comparing what non O.D. staff produced versus what the doctor produced (see "Revenue Per Staff Hour"), O.D. production increased with practice size, while staff production did the opposite. The amount of dollars that each employee produced on an hourly basis declined as gross income increased above $300,000 each year.

One reason is that staff productivity is often artificially high in small gross practices because the doctor spends a lot of time performing staff-related duties (e.g., pre-exam workups and frame dispensings). This holds down doctor productivity and makes staff productivity look better than it is.

Another reason why staff productivity declines as practices get larger is that doctors in large gross practices delegate nonprofessional tasks to their staffs better. Delegation frees up the doctor to concentrate on higher levels of patient care, but it also gives the staff more to do. Hence, more employees are required, making the hourly staff productivity appear lower.

Improving your productivity

Increase your practice profits without raising fees:

A Work faster and more efficiently. But there is a practical limit as to how fast you can work and still give your patients the feeling that they're receiving quality care.

A Delegate more by handing off every task that doesn't require a doctor's skill to well-trained staff members. This will allow you to work at your highest level of patient care and still have enough time to give patients your undivided personal attention.

Happy practice & patients

It takes teamwork to have a high-volume practice that delivers quality care. The key is for each team member to focus on their highest level of training within the practice. Do that and you'll achieve maximum productivity while creating highly satisfied patients.


Revenue Per O.D. Hour

Practice Gross $300k $300k to $700k $700k+
More than 31% net $222k $346k $394k
Under 31% net $207k $288k $391k

Revenue Per Staff Hour

Practice Gross $300k $300k to $700k $700k+
More than 31% net $98k $65k $68k
Under 31% net $80k $61k $65k

A frequent writer and speaker on practice management issues, Dr. Hayes is the founder and director of Hayes Consulting.  You can reach him at (800) 588-9636 or JHAYES@HAYESCONSULTING.NET.


Optometric Management, Issue: May 2004