Efficiency improvements that transformed the patient experience and profitability.
By Nicole Lovato
August 30, 2023
Your patients need an efficient, smooth-running office and you do, too, to sustain and grow profitability. Small changes and investments in our practice have resulted in an office that provides patients with a better experience and us with higher profitability. Here is how we did it.
Online Appointment Scheduling
I looked at myself and what I enjoy most about communicating and scheduling with the doctors I see as a patient, and realized it was time to get with the program. The doctors’ offices I most enjoy visiting are those that enable me to schedule online anytime I choose.
To implement online scheduling in our office, I began by exploring the cost options and programs available to us from multiple vendors.
As a Vision Source office, we decided to go with 4PatientCare, a program that is free to us with our membership. There is no additional cost beyond our Vision Source membership for utilizing this technology.
Editor’s Note: There are many other patient communication platforms that enable online scheduling, such as Weave, Solutionreach and NexHealth, among other technologies, such as EHR systems that offer online scheduling.
Patients have been pleased with the ability to schedule online and avoid making a phone call. I have noticed patients of all ages are using our new online scheduling.
We see patients sooner than we would have without this technology, as 4PatientCare reaches out to patients letting them know they can schedule an appointment with us online.
It has allowed staff to be free from the phone calls that can take 2-10 minutes to schedule a patient. That adds up to hours per week of staff time that can now be put to better uses, like helping to sell eyewear in our optical or assisting the doctors.
Results: We save an estimated 2-3 hours of staff time per week thanks to online scheduling
Using a Billing Company to Handle Claims
After continually having to train new employees to handle claims and dealing with the downfalls of new employees making mistakes causing delays in payments, we decided it was a better and a more efficient fit for our office to outsource the process.
We pay 5 percent of what is paid by the insurance companies. We budget it into our staff expenses. The increase in paid claims and the efficiency we get by outsourcing billing really makes the additional expense pay for itself. And now we are not beholden to one individual to see to it that our claims are paid. We have an entire team dedicated to working our claims and getting them paid.
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As claims are paid accurately, we have noticed less staff time dedicated to unnecessary phone calls, and accurate billing to the patient has allowed for happier patients!
This has not only allowed for better patient care, but also for higher and quicker collections on claims.
Results: Accounts receivable have gone down by about 18 percent since outsourcing, and most claims are paid within four weeks
Improving teamwork in our office has allowed us to be more efficient. All of our employees now know we are a team and a family with a common goal of ensuring our patients are taken care of. This has been, hands down, the best way of improving efficiency.
All our staff members work together, and many of them rotate positions in the office allowing them to build relationships with all of their co-workers and preventing cliques from forming. Groups of staff are responsible for tasks being done instead of just one individual. If one person is unable to find the time to complete something then another person steps in, without being asked, to get it done.
To get to this level of teamwork, we had to make sure all our employees were cross-trained in some area of our operations. In addition, hiring “team players” when adding or changing staff is crucial! If you have a combative or difficult employee, then, like a virus, it will grow and destroy the culture you strive for.
Results: Patient care has greatly improved by making sure our employees work well together and have the same common goal. We are constantly hearing how friendly and helpful our staff members are in our reviews.
Nicole Lovato is the practice manager of Azle Vision Source. During her 20 years in the optical industry, she has worked alongside several doctors and acquired a variety of tools and business skills. To contact her: Visionsource17@gmail.com