It's Time for a Change
The New Year
brings opportunities and challenges that go along with change.
THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jim Thomas
on New Year's resolutions aren't that impressive. Most people fail to keep them
after only a few months and by the end of the year, many are history. I'm reminded
of this each time I look at the cobwebs on my exercise equipment.
We appear to be more successful in making
resolutions and changes that affect our professional lives. This would explain why
the U.S. worker continues to be the most productive in the world.
It's good to remember a couple things
that go along with change. First, a single change can produce unintended results,
as in the "butterfly effect." Second, people (patients, staff, vendors, etc.) don't
always like change.
Change for the better?
An optometrist recently told me that he decided
to raise his contact lens fitting fees to be more in line with his expertise and
the cost to his practice. Most readers of Optometric Management would agree that
this is a change for the better. But I'm not sure they would agree with how it was
The doctor instructed his staff to
give contact lens patients a letter, which detailed the fees and started with the
heading, "We now charge contact lens patients a fitting fee." The patient response
to the letter, as can be expected, wasn't positive. Some complained to the staff,
asking why, all of the sudden, was there a need to increase fees when service levels
hadn't changed. Some of the staff wondered why they were the ones who had to present
"bad news" to the patients. Obviously, these weren't the results the optometrist
Imagine how the response might
have changed if the heading read, "It is our pleasure to provide you with a state-of-the-art
contact lens fitting," and then went on to inform patients on the value of the practice's
We don't always need "change"
While people don't always like change, all
of us like improvements. Successful practice leaders focus on how changes improve
our lives. They acknowledge that there are costs involved, but the benefits outweigh
these. For example, in recent years optometry has made great strides in a number
of areas, including information technology (see page 32) and contact lenses (page
42). Wouldn't it be a disservice to explain these, respectively, as a complicated
new office system for the staff to learn and contact lenses that cost more?
On behalf of the staff at Optometric
Management, I wish you a happy New Year and the best of luck in your resolutions
Optometric Management, Issue: January 2006