The Dos and Don’ts of Practice Management
Masoud Nafey, OD is the owner of Vision+ Family Optometry in Sacramento, California, and leads professional relations for Eyefinity.
Running a business isn’t easy, particularly one that balances health care with daily business operations. We don’t all have the opportunity to go practice to practice and learn from others’ mistakes and successes. Thankfully I’ve had this opportunity through previous work experience, and I want to share the top 5 tips I’ve learned that have helped with my practice.
- Educate your staff on the difference between their job and the daily tasks they perform. Your team’s job is primarily in your practice’s mission statement. Your staff’s job is to ensure they are taking the correct measures to deliver this mission statement to each and every one of their patients. Their tasks may include checking in patients, answering the phone and booking appointments, performing clinical tests, fitting patients for spectacles, or billing claims. This is important so every employee in the office has a clear sense of direction, that we all have the same job, although we may have to perform unique tasks to successfully perform that job.
- Departmentalize your staff into teams and give each team specific lists of responsibilities. For example, you may have a front desk team, clinic team, optical team, and billing team. Although some of your staff may have multiple roles, what this can accomplish is accountability and acknowledgement of one’s daily responsibilities within a practice.
- Cross-train your staff just in case of an emergency so when many staff members cannot make it to the office, you have other staff members that can perform their tasks. For example, short-staffed clinics create a bottle-neck effect for patient office flow and meanwhile, the optical has staff members sitting around. You’ll be surprised how happy your staff will be to know you are allowing them to acquire more skills. Moreover, by observing their skills in each department, you may find that an optical staff member is more suited for the clinic side of the practice or vice versa.
- Have weekly department meetings with each team within your staff. This way everyone is held accountable for their work and as someone who manages the business, you are aware of each team’s achievements, challenges, frustrations, and conflicts.
- Make personal connections with your patients. One great example may be to simply take a photo of your patient (given their permission) and save it into your HIPAA-compliant practice management system so it gives your doctors and staff an opportunity to identify the patient as soon as they step foot into your practice. This provides a rich experience for your patients and allows your staff to make personal connections they wouldn’t have been able to make otherwise. Oh, how nice it is to be recognized as a unique person within a practice. Your patients will love it!
- Don’t care for your patient like they are just another patient. Get to know your patients so you can provide a unique experience for them.
- Don’t focus on numbers too much. Instead, focus on care. Care can drive all your numbers in our business. This holds true in optical sales as well. Your patients are more inclined to purchase the products you recommend if you can provide examples on how it can bring value to their lifestyle and improve their quality of life. Mentioning why and how a second pair can provide relief and improve their quality of life for your patient while they are at work can make all the difference in why that patient will happily purchase multiple pairs from your office, perhaps even annually.
- Don’t provide the same office experience for every patient that walks through your doors. One size doesn’t fit all in optometry. Something as simple as a sticker and a candy in a bag with the child’s name on it can go a far way not only for the pediatric patients, but more importantly, to their parents, who are the ones who will do all the referring of new patients.
- Don’t just market in the local newspaper and online and hope your practice grows with new patients. Get involved in your community. Present to a nearby elementary school classroom on the importance of annual eye exams. Invest in the local schools’ sports programs. Join the city’s Rotary club.
- Don’t forget to tell your staff you appreciate them.
What are some Dos and Don’ts you’ve implemented in your office? Leave a comment below.