The Business of Contact Lenses
Break Away From Tradition to Improve Efficiency
BY GARY GERBER, OD
A patient calls asking to be fit with contact lenses. Next Thursday at 2:15pm, he arrives for his exam and is escorted into a room where a technician does some preliminary testing and follows up on some history questions. Next, you see the patient. Your exam determines that he’d be a good candidate for soft toric contact lenses. You don’t have the exact trial lenses in the office, so you escort the patient to the front desk. The patient pays the professional fees, and your staff orders the lenses. Three days later, the lenses arrive. The patient is notified and returns to try them on. They fit well, are comfortable, and the vision is perfect. Your staff orders a six-month supply of lenses, and the patient pays the contact lens bill.
This sequence of events, or events similar to it, probably happened thousands of times today in practices across the country. But why did they happen exactly that way? Is what you’re doing now the best way to do things?
When our consultants ask practitioners, “Why do you do that task in that way at that particular time?” the answer is usually, “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.”
Why ask Why?
We can dissect the above scenario on multiple levels to help demonstrate the power of asking why.
“A patient calls asking to be fit with contact lenses…” Would promoting online scheduling be a more productive and efficient way to schedule patients?
“Next Thursday at 2:15pm…” Why are you open the hours that you’re open, and why do you accept contact lens patients at that time? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, just that you should be able to answer the question!
“…a technician does some preliminary testing and follows up on some history questions.” Is every question that the technician asks necessary for every patient? Is this sequence optimal for most patients most of the time?
“You don’t have the exact trial lenses in the office, so you escort the patient to the front desk.” There are two points to examine here. Why did you escort the patient? Then, why don’t you have the appropriate trials? Are you insistent on using the exact toric lens, or can you put on a power that is close and order lenses based on that? If not, do you have a workable system to ensure that you rarely, if ever, run out of your most prescribed trial lenses? When you order trial lenses, would it be more efficient to have a scribe or assistant order them right from the examination room while the patient is watching? Would that add an extra feeling of “closure” to the fitting process?
“The patient is notified and returns to try them on.” For established wearers, have you ever considered sending trials directly to them? For example, if the only change in the lens was a 10-degree difference in axis, is there any reason why the patient can’t evaluate that lens on his own?
“Your staff orders a six-month supply of lenses…” Why six months? Why not one? Why not 12? As before, can the lenses be ordered from the exam room? Also as above, if these are commonly prescribed lenses, might there be a benefit to keeping them in the office?
“…the patient pays the contact lens bill.” Why was payment delayed until the contact lenses were ordered? Why not request payment when you order the trial lenses?
Always Room for Improvement
None of the above questions have answers that are necessarily right or wrong. This exercise is intended to get you to look at how you do things in your office and to make sure it’s not running on an inefficient autopilot. CLS
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company offering proven and comprehensive practice and profit building systems. You can reach him at www.PowerPractice.com and follow him on Twitter@PowerYourDream.