Article Date: 7/1/2006

Time is on Your Side ... Yes it is
The smallest improvements in your practice can add up to impressive results.

Your practice improves for any number of reasons: Your staff gains experience and expands their skills. Your practice invests in new equipment and technologies. You gain expertise as a clinician and practice manager.

Some of the changes are easy to quantify, such as when you calculate the profitability of a new line of frames. Others are not as visible. For example, staff may become more efficient at operating a piece of equipment or more effective in their patient relations skills. These scenarios beg the question, if your practice offers you benefits and you do not take advantage of them, then do they really exist — much like the question posed by the sound of a tree falling in the woods when there's no one to hear it.

Is it worth it?

You can certainly argue against measuring such minor improvements. Maybe you feel you have a lower volume practice where a few minutes saved here or there don't amount to much. Besides, if your technician becomes more adept in handling equipment and saves a couple of minutes, isn't the confidence the technician builds reward enough?

Recent work in practice management suggests that these small savings can be put to work in your practice. You might ask, what can you do with an additional few minutes? Here are a few suggestions:

Increase morale. Take a moment to recognize that an employee, or several, are doing a good job and how their good works impact your practice. This personal acknowledgment can go a long way.

Call a patient. Imagine the impact on your patients if you, their doctor, gave them a phone call. You might check in with them when they receive a new prescription, if they've been diagnosed with a new condition or even when a loyal patient fails to schedule an appointment. You might take a moment to tell appropriate patients about a new service or product. One call per day quickly adds up.

Educate patients. You just added a new line of frames. Why not take two minutes to explain to each of your patients, especially those with children, how these new frames twist, bend and contort without breaking? How valuable would those two minutes now become in terms of patient satisfaction and increased revenues?

The next step

I'm sure you can add countless examples. And if you agree that even two or three minutes a day can add value to your practice, then isn't it time to evaluate, in a new light, those processes, products and systems that save even a few moments?

Optometric Management, Issue: July 2006