Neil Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, contributing editor and member of the Optometric Management Editorial Advisory Board, shares his valuable tricks of the trade in a weekly e-newsletter. Delivered free to your inbox each week, Management Tip of the Week offers unique and insightful practice management tips from motivating staff to improving your profits with vision plans.

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Dispensing Records: Practice Building Power

February 22, 2017


Leading companies recognize the value of data and they find innovative ways to collect it, but optometrists often don’t keep any record of one of the major services they provide. Eyeglass adjustments, repairs and replacements are often treated as goodwill freebies in optometric offices, but they have some major hidden benefits. People visit your office every day for eyeglass services; read on for ways to use it to your advantage.

Optical record-keeping
Many ODs do not keep very good records of routine adjustments and repairs because it seems like it is not worth the time and effort. My practice used to be in that camp. After all, efficiency and speed is important to me and if we are not charging a fee for a basic frame adjustment or repair, then why bother pulling up the record? The issue of charging a fee for adjustments or limiting them to eyeglasses purchased at your office is a worthy discussion, but let’s table that for now. By far, most ODs do not charge a fee for a basic frame adjustment at this time.
 
It turns out that even if you are not charging a fee, there are some big benefits to collecting some data about optical dispensing visits.
 
Why collect dispensing data?
Here are some practice building benefits of collecting data about routine dispensing visits:
  • Use the face-to-face visit as an opportunity to check the date of the last exam and reactivate patients who are past due for eye care. This strategy alone will help fill your appointment schedule and it makes pulling up the record well worth the effort.
  • Track the number of non-selling dispensing visits handled by your staff per month. The amount of staff time devoted to adjustments and repairs will stagger you.
  • Track the number of no charge optical remakes performed by your practice; some covered by a manufacturer warranty and some not.
  • See the number of optical remakes that occur with a fee charged and the amount of revenue generated though that service.
An idea for optical record-keeping
You can certainly keep dispensing records in your EHR system by having your staff use a laptop or other workstation, but I find paper forms to be far more flexible and efficient. Using an iPad or other tablet sounds great, but most software I’ve seen for dispensing visits requires the user to enter text in a freeform manner and tablets are not that easy to type on.
 
I designed a paper form that in a half sheet size (4.25 X 5.5 inch) and I had our printer make them in pads of 100 sheets. We use these at optical check-in to ask the visitor (patient) to print his or her name in the blank at the top. The form has check boxes that list the most common reasons for a dispensing visit, such as: eyeglass adjustment, repair, lenses are scratched, not seeing well, eyeglasses not comfortable and select new glasses or sunglasses.
 
The bottom half of the form indicates that it is for staff use only. It has blanks to handwrite the last exam date, recall date, and type of insurance. Check boxes keep a record if we advised the patient that they are past due for an exam and if an appointment was scheduled. We also have check boxes and blank lines to indicate if these specific glasses have a warranty, what type of work we did, and if any frame parts or lenses were ordered along with the pricing, if any.
 
We collect these forms and I review them at the end of the month and then they are scanned into the patient’s EHR file. The paper is discarded after scanning.

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