Patients notice every detail in our office. They are impressed when the systems and processes we put in place produce a smooth and efficient exam experience. They are equally dismayed when the systems fall apart and chaos ensues. I enjoy spending time improving this experience for my patients. One of my most exciting moments in the exam is when I thank my patients for allowing me to provide for their eye care needs and ask them how the visit was today. The response is much the same, yet much different from each patient. The most common descriptions I hear are “fun,” “professional,” “just like going to Disney,” and “high tech,” but most of all patients comment on the “team.”
The reason one business stands out from another is the quality of their people. The reason the staff are impressive to a patient is because the people have a leader who knows the importance of choosing high performers to be on the team, and also continues to invest time in creating a high-functioning team. In order to form this type of team, we must put systems and processes in place to empower them.
One of the systems we count on to enhance teamwork and create consistency in each patient experience is the transfer of the patient from the doctor to the technician in the exam room. To create an efficient and valuable transfer, we utilize a summary handout that each patient receives before proceeding to optical or contact lenses. Before I go through the handout, I make certain a team member is present in the room. We have a pager system in each patient care room. As I begin my slit lamp evaluation, I will discreetly touch the pager button on my exam desk and a team member quietly enters the exam room. When the patient sits back from the slit lamp, I verbally begin my analysis and prescribing for their needs that day and document it all on the handout they are going to receive. This summary addresses their glasses needs (computer, sun, every day and reading pair), any prescription medication, nutraceutical or medical eye care needs, as well as contact lens needs. I talk to my patient about color contact lenses in the presence of my team member, so they both hear the conversation and know what my expectations are. This patient transfer is carefully orchestrated to make certain the doctor or the technician doesn’t forget anything, and enables each patient to be given the same opportunity to experience not only the best eye wear but also the best contacts, including colors.
When I look at the future of my practice and how I can continue to have the opportunity to change patients’ lives, I know that this is dependent on the consistency of the experience. Implementing systems and processes to ensure this consistency not only improve the experience for each patient, but also allow us to focus on specific strategies such as increasing our colors try-ons in our practice.
April Jasper, OD, FAAO has a private practice in West Palm Beach, Florida. She serves on several Advisory boards including VSP, Vision Source, Allergan and Alcon. Dr. Jasper is Benedict Professor in practice management at Houston College of Optometry. Her passion is sharing with her colleagues in areas of practice management and technology in an effort to help them become more successful in patient care and personal growth.