Finances

Six Practice Improvements for 2016

By Maria Sampalis, OD

Dec. 2, 2015

As the end of every year approaches, I reflect on my business, looking at the strengths that have grown my businessand created a loyal patient base. Then I look at how I can continue to improve.

I take a deep look at areas of my practice that aren’t doing as well as I would like, and see what my colleagues, and other competitors in the eyecare business, are doing to be successful in these areas.

I have found that successful doctors focus not onlyon superior outcomes for today, but they are ready for the obstacles that might come tomorrow!

My advice to colleagues at the end of this year: Determine what you are doing well, and how you can deliver it better.Understand where your challenges and opportunities lie, and determine how to tackle those areas. Here are six key areas to take a look at in your practice.

Assess Your Contact Lens Care & Services

A successstrategy here is to match your competitors’ pricing to keep contact lens sales in your office, but also to provide a service to your patients that differentiates your office from another doctor’s office.

Are you fitting the latest technology in contacts lenses? For example, re-fitting ACUVUE 2 patients into an ACUVUE OASYS lens gives the patient a lens that better promotes eye health, and your expert guidance shows patients that your contact lens exam is not a commodity. What’s more, like lenses such as Alcon’s DALIES TOTAL1, ACUVUE OASYS lenses are governed by Universal Pricing Policy (UPP), so you won’t be undercut by online sellers, or other retailers, thereby enabling you to more easily capture the sale of these contact lenses.

Respond with Valueto Patients Who Want to Buy Eyewear Online

It’s becoming more common for patients to forego a tour of your optical in favor of requesting their prescription and shopping online, or at a chain or mass retailer with lower prices. Here you have the opportunity toeducate the patient on the negatives of doing so, and how your office can give a better quality eyewear package within the same price point. Every office should have a value package. Provide these patients with an educational pamphlet that shows them the real difference between glasses online and glasses offered at your office with your experienced staff.

Update Your Office’s Diagnostic Technology

Investing in technology is key to growing and maintaining your business. Successful practices invest in their business in order for it to grow! Patients see value in the new technology, taking comfort that their doctor is keeping up with advances in care. Think about adding an OCT, or digital retinal imaging technology. These are big capital investments, but the payoff to your practice can be great in the message sent to patients that you offer the most advanced care, and are able to truly offer comprehensive eyecare. These assets also will be increasingly important as you integrate your care into the narrowed networks under health care reform. Accountable Care Organizations you apply to will want to see evidence that you are equipped to provide full-scope medical eyecare. Having the right technology in place positions you well.

Let Patients Book Appointments & Reorder CLs Online

Patients need to be able to book their appointments online on a practice web site that is easy to find,within the first page of Google search listings. The “make an appointment” button should be easily found on the practice’s homepage, as should an icon visitors can click on to reorder contact lenses. With eyewear and contact lenses found so easily online, having a web site that makes appointment booking and contact lens ordering a two-to-three click breeze is essential. You want to make it as easy as possible for patients to choose you over your competitors.

Manage No-Shows & Cancellations with a Waiting List

Having a waiting list is important to have on hand, in your practice management system, or whatever appointment booking software you use, so as soon as a patient calls to cancel an appointment, your receptionist can call the name at the top of the waiting list to let them know a slot has opened up.

Broaden Your Expertise

Take continuing education on topics that you are not familiar with to grow your business. For example, the damage to eyes from the blue light emitted by electronic devices is a topic consumers are just becoming aware of. Get in front of this patient concern by taking CE on the science behind how blue light impacts eye health and vision, and be better prepared to discuss these latest findings with patients. Better understanding the science behind blue light, and the best remedies, also will enable you to choose the best related merchandise, such as BluTech lenses, and other blue light-blocking lenses, like Essilor’s Crizal Prevencia lenses, for your optical.

Your success is determined by how well you play to your strengths and assets, and how you continue to adapt to the changing marketplace. Aim to make 2016 the year when your drive for practice success and innovation surpasses all your other years in practice.

What improvements are you planning for your practice for 2016? What areas of your practice pose the greatest challenges, and how will you meet those challenges next year?

Maria Sampalis, OD, is the owner of Sampalis Eye Care in Warwick, R.I. To contact her: msampalis@hotmail.com

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