Remember the last time you logged into your email to find the entire user interface had changed? You probably sat there swearing for a moment while you squinted to find this or that or remarked to someone sitting near you that you were going to switch providers. We’ve all been there. Change is uncomfortable at first, but it’s necessary for forward motion. And you? You learned how to send email again right? And let me guess…it’s even better than before.
Even if your practice is thriving, there are definitely some things that could be done more efficiently. Yes, people will complain. No, it’s not going to be easy for the first few days. But just like your old email, they will forget the old way ever existed.
I grew up in this field. My dad owned a practice when I was in high school, and I would sometimes help out. They used the Practice Management System, PMS, for checking out patients and other ancillary duties, but they didn’t use the appointment scheduler, which to me, seemed like a missed opportunity. They had a paper appointment book, which was tried and true, and there had been some debate about whether or not to make the switch. Ultimately, after months of debate, no such change was made. Now, remember, I was in high school, so I knew better. One Sunday, I borrowed my dad’s car and keys went into the office and entered every appointment from the paper appointment book into the PMS. Knowing people have a tendency toward habit, I stole...I mean hid...the physical book itself. I wasn’t there for the emotional fallout that surely followed that Monday, but it’s been twenty-two years, and they still haven’t gone back to paper.
The discomfort that comes with change can cause friction in the office, especially if your staff members have been doing a good job. They might feel attacked or out of their element. It’s important to not blindside them all at once. Take a look at your practice and, as a team, decide how you can remove the metaphorical roadblocks, and get traffic to flow a little more seamlessly.
Something simple you can try: move those contact lens fitting sets into storage! Not all of them, but some of them. Make a list of the lenses you’d prefer to fit; most of the time, it makes sense to narrow it down to two manufacturers. Place your selections somewhere easy to access. You can still hold onto the others but put them someplace problematic—the basement, the storage room, anywhere that’s inconvenient. They can still be retrieved if necessary, but overall (in our office at least) the change helped our associate doctors choose and fit preferred lenses and created a more organized looking space that was easier to find the most common lenses.
There are lots of little things you could change. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see in what ways your work environment could become more efficiently designed. Start slow—you don’t want your team to feel like they’ve shown up at the wrong place for work. Involve them in some of the choices. Be mindful of the pushback but encourage them to “try it this way” for a few weeks, and I promise that after a while, they’ll forget about the good old days and embrace the now.
Evan Kestenbaum, MBA is the co-founder and COO of GPN Technologies, the landmark company that created EDGEPro. Evan’s entrepreneurial expertise and his focus on continuous improvement were vital in the development and success of EDGEPro, which has revolutionized analytics and business intelligence for ophthalmic professionals. Evan has also been deeply engaged in coaching and dispensary management for hundreds of practices during the past 10 years. He is the co-owner of Optix Family Eyecare in New York, one of Long Island’s largest Optometry practices. In his free time, Evan enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.