o.d. to o.d.
Manages the Business Side of Your Practice?
you don't care to manage your practice, you have options, some of which are best-approached cautiously.
WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O.,Chief Optometric Editor
management can come from many sources but I thought that practice management was
a responsibility assumed by the practitioner or the owner of the practice. The exception
is when the owner delegates management to an appropriately-trained employee, one
who possesses the necessary skill sets to handle the job as well as, if not better
than, the owner. In some instances this is the case, but in most it's a far cry
from what's happening in the real world of optometry.
So if you recognize that you, as the practitioner,
aren't personally managing or don't want to personally manage your practice, you
have to ask the question, who else could do it for you?
Who's the boss?
We've already spoken about the skilled employee,
a situation which probably accounts for less than 5% of all optometric practice
management performed, so we'll take that option out of the mix. Another option is
to identify the staff member who has been in your employment for the longest period
of time and promote them to office manager, regardless of this employee's lack of
training and skills.
I've seen this technique many
times and would suggest against it. All too
often this approach is the Peter Principle all over again take someone who
is trusted and excels at performing the technical responsibilities and elevate them
to a position where they are doomed to fail. Now once they have failed, it's extremely
important that you act surprised about it, even though you understood that they
lacked the qualifications for management.
Sometimes you pay to play
There's another popular technique for selecting
someone to manage your practice: outside talent. Outside talent can come in many
shapes, forms and fashions. These professionals yield different results so you'll
have to do your research carefully. But hey, it's only
practice, your profitability and your livelihood we're talking about here
nothing to get all excited about.
Even though there are consultants who are both
well versed in managing healthcare practices and experienced practitioners within
the field of optometry, it's important to recognize that you are going to have to
pay these entities for their services. It's an investment. I know there are those
of you who are thinking to yourselves, "Pay someone for advice, how un-optometric!"
Does the majority rule?
Don't despair. There is an opportunity for every
optometric practice in the country to have an outside entity take control of their
business and dramatically impact profitability (for better or worse) without having
to pay a fee for it. Not only that but you can rest easy knowing that perhaps 90%
of the practices and practitioners in the country already use this outside entity
to manage the business and profitability of their practices.
How do you take advantage of this opportunity?
Simply contact any managed care organization and sign up as a provider. Now don't
you worry one little bit about reading that contract or what your reimbursements
will be relative to your chair
Optometric Management, Issue: August 2005