The Business of Contact Lenses
The 12 Commandments for Practitioners—Part 2
BY CLARKE D. NEWMAN, OD, FAAO
In my last column I began going over my “12 Commandments,” and I got through the first six. We’ll continue our discussion of the final six with the seventh commandment, “Don’t Try to Be a Hero.”
There is a difference between trying to be a hero and being heroic. A hero does something extraordinary that has great risk and reward because it is demanded by the situation. The guy trying to be a hero does something because it is demanded by his ego. This is almost a corollary of “Don’t fix nothin’ that ain’t broke.” When someone tries to fix something that’s not broken because he has a new toy or lens, that guy is trying to be a hero.
The eighth commandment is, “Manage Your Practice.” I hate this because it is my weakest area. I know how to do it; I am just not nearly as interested in managing my practice as I am in managing my patients. Sounds odd for a guy writing a practice management column, huh?
The thing is, whether or not you enjoy this aspect of your practice does not change one iota whether your success is dependent on it. Two of my best friends really enjoy this aspect of practice, and they are always doing things to improve their business. I do a good job of managing my practice, but I could do a better job of building it.
Some things don’t change though. You should set budgets and stick to them. Track the numbers in your practice to control spending, and account for inventory to control theft. Invest in your practice. When a practitioner says he has no debt, I think, “Why not?” Why is he not investing in his practice? Does he wait until he has the money to pay cash? Constantly watch the cash flow for chances to improve efficiencies and savings.
Set yourself apart from everyone else. Do something they don’t do. That gives you an edge. Hire a great accountant who knows eye care. Listen to others; they often know a lot.
The ninth commandment is, “Practice Good Medicine.” Describe, then name is a good rule to live by. Also, as Bruce Onofrey says, “There is a fine line between therapy and assault.” That line is medical necessity and consent. Make sure you have both. Remember the following: hoofbeats don’t mean zebras. It ain’t rare if it is in your chair. Not written, not done.
One of the most important things is the Doctrine of Respondeat Superior. The acts of your staff are your acts. Train them to act as you would.
Professional, Personal Balance
The 10th command is violated by many: “Endeavor to Involve Yourself in Your Profession.” A few of us obey this pathologically, so a balance is in order. Those of us who are so involved that it affects our lives otherwise are great for our profession, but bad for ourselves. Learn to say, “Yes,” and “No.” Contribute your time, your money, and your expertise.
Commandment 11 is, “Like What You Do.” Let your patients know that you like what you do. If you don’t like what you do, do something else. Sharpen the saw so that you stay fresh and continue to like what you do. You have to reboot your brain. I race sailboats; you do your kind of thing.
Finally, Commandment 12 is, “Take Care of Your Patients and Everything Else Will Follow.” If you genuinely take good care of patients, all of the seismic shifts in health care won’t matter. CLS
Dr. Newman has been in private practice in Dallas, Texas since 1986 specializing in vision rehabilitation through contact lenses as well as corneal disease management, optometric medicine and refractive surgery. He is a Diplomate in the AAO and a consultant to B+L and AMO. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.