Improving how patients waiting for an optician are managed.
By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO
Jan. 10, 2024
Years ago we had a big “issue”(euphemism for “problem”) in our optical. We were growing quickly, and started to run three doctors at a time. Patients who needed to go to the optical to work with an optician would sometimes get taken “out of turn.”
One patient waiting on help from an optician might get skipped because another patient walked in and went straight over to the optician they had been working with before. Or a patient would get lost in the shuffle and be skipped over completely!! Yikes!
Check-In Sheet on a Clipboard
To alleviate this issue, our solution was to start using a check-in sheet on a clipboard at the edge of the front desk, where the doctor/tech wrote down the patient’s name and the optician would put their initials next to it. Walk-in patients would also write down their name to get “in the queue” for the next available optician if an optician was all they needed that day.
Other Articles to Explore
This worked reasonably well, and it also allowed us to analyze how many patients each optician was helping… what we call “optical touches.” It was eye-opening. I discovered one of our opticians worked with half the number of patients each day that our other opticians did! This optician was able to improve his “optical touches” substantially once he saw the numbers.
Digitizing the Check-In Clipboard
During a visit to a lab for a blood draw, I noticed a computerized unit where you could input your name. It was clear that this system allowed the front desk to track check-ins. Intrigued, I noted down the name of the unit (yes, I peeked behind the unit), looked it up later, and that’s when I discovered CQueue.
We quickly started using CQueue in our optical (and recently with our techs…that is for another column!). This system worked so well for our office!
Create a New Patient Flow
Patients can sign into CQueue if they need an optician when they arrive through our check-in kiosks, or the front desk can do it for the patient on their computer (remember our front desk is super efficient now, see previous column).
After an exam, the doctor will pull up CQueue in the exam room on their computer and type in the patient’s name, room number and the doctor’s initials. There is a drop-down box showing the patient’s needs in the optical, such as “frame style” or “glasses adjustment.”
There is a “ding” at the opticians’ desks to let them know a patient needs help. The optician will then “acknowledge” the patient with a click of a button, so when the doctor looks at the CQueue they can inform the patient which optician will be helping them. This also tells the optician where the patient is, and which doctor the patient is with, for a better handoff.
There is also a box for the doctors to write a note that the optician can see such as “first-time progressive” or “discuss second-pair computer sv,” etc. The CQueue system has analyses where we can track “optical touches,” see when our busiest times are, why patients need an optician and other helpful information. Our opticians will even put into the CQueue when they are away for lunch, or if they left early, so the whole office knows who is available by looking at the CQueue.
I love when a system that was created to improve the patient experience ALSO creates efficiencies and allows us to analyze our business better! WIN! WIN!