Article Date: 4/1/2003

contact lens economics
Staff Meetings Are A Must
BY WALTER D. WEST, OD, FAAO

Practitioners attuned to "economies of scale" should also pay attention to "efficiencies of scale" in their contact lens practice. In short, make sure that everyone in the practice is on the same page.  Whether the practice is large with multiple doctors and support staff or smaller, with a single practitioner and few staff members, staff working exclusively in one center may not feel well versed in another center. For instance, the LASIK coordinator may not know which spherical contact lens is the practitioner's current lens of choice. Similarly, a vision therapist may be unaware of the latest developments in ophthalmic lens options.

Patient and staff confusion can result if the practitioner's direction is not clear and consistent. If the doctor usually prescribes a particular lens for two-week replacement but often will "wink" at a patient who stretches his lens cycle, the staff receives mixed messages. This results in ambivalence on the part of the staff, who then transfers this attitude to the patients. Is it any wonder, in this situation, that patients will not buy an annual supply?

Keeping Staff Up to Date

Keeping the entire staff aware of new methods and materials is key to a well-managed practice. Staff members equipped with the most recent developments in lens technology will ask direct questions to solicit complaints from those patients who are afraid to speak up on their own, thinking the doctor may tell them to stop wearing lenses altogether. Similarly, a monovision patient may gradually lose interest in wearing his lenses if he is experiencing visual compromise, unaware that multifocal lens options are available.

Staff meetings held on a regular basis are the ideal place to provide periodic updates. Our practice staff meets every Thursday morning for an hour. On that day, our practice simply opens an hour later to prevent interruptions. We provide an agenda ahead of time to allow staff time to think on the day's topics. A rotating schedule allows a designated staff member to facilitate each meeting. Every center provides a brief report, informing the rest of the staff on new products and procedures, allowing a short time for questions and discussion. The meeting leader must keep a tight rein to keep the discussion concise and on course.

Over the years, many colleagues have told me they simply don't have time for staff meetings. I hear objections from these practitioners when I suggest they make time during office hours, as we do. They feel the downtime is too expensive. I challenge that, and maintain that an hour of practice time is a sound investment for the additional revenue you will generate long-term. In addition to higher revenues, your staff will enjoy a more integrated working relationship and feel they are moving toward common goals.

A cohesive staff with a cohesive message is the best way to internally market and promote your contact lens practice. This obviously works for your other care centers as well (optical, E&M, refractive surgery). They all can benefit from consistent messages from your entire staff. Make staff meetings not only a priority, but a mandatory weekly event.

 

 

Staff Meeting Topics

 

  • Lenses of choice in daily, two-week, and monthly disposable

  • Updates in GP designs and technology such as Corneal Refractive Therapy

  • Presbyopic contact lens designs

  • Advantages of tinted lenses for monovision patients

  • Multi-purpose solutions of choice

  • Patient compliance with wear schedules and follow-up visits

  • How to promote annual dispense

  • Promoting back-up glasses and sunglasses

  • Contact lenses for children

Dr. West practices in Brentwood, TN, and lectures nationally and internationally on contact lens and practice management topics.

 


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: April 2003