An efficient office makes you, your staff, and your patients happier. Unfortunately, while we all strive for efficiency, not all days are equal. Most practices find that some days everything runs smoothly and some days it seems like no matter what you do you end up running behind schedule. What can you do to help keep your optometry office running efficiently and on time?
Here are 5 tips.
Reduce no-shows and late-shows
No-shows and late-shows can throw a wrench into a finely tuned schedule, so it is important to take steps to minimize their impact. You can do this by:
Scheduling A Paperwork Appointment for New Patients
The first time a new patient comes to see you there is a lot of paperwork to do. If your patient arrives exactly on time for their appointment, or late, this extra paperwork can cut into their appointment slot and put the whole office behind schedule. To help mitigate this problem try booking new patients in for a paperwork and insurance appointment before their initial appointment.
Scheduling Two Appointments for Each Patient
Schedule two appointments with each patient: one for paperwork and one for the actual appointment. This tends to work better than asking patients to arrive early to complete any paperwork since many patients don’t remember to do so. If your patient does not have availability for a second appointment schedule paperwork into the appointment. For example, if the appointment is for 12:00 p.m. schedule the appointment for 11:45 a.m. allowing additional time for paper and administrative work.
Scheduling Reminder Calls
Reminder calls are a great way to cut down on no-shows and last minute cancellations. By having your staff call, email and text patients the day before. It also helps to fill empty slots that may arise.
Automated text messages is the easiest way to provide a personal channel of communication to build relationships with your clients and send appointment reminders. 98% of text messages are read within 5 minutes. There are multiple web-based platforms that offer automated text messaging to assist you in delivering your communication and scheduling needs. See below three suggestions to review and test:
This will give them time to fill out the appropriate forms, let them get familiar with your office and its location, and get them invested in the process. By having all the paperwork done in advance you will be able to reduce the chances of a new patient being a “no-show” for their first actual appointment, or canceling at the last minute. This will keep your office running on time.
Fill in the Blanks in Advance
Any patient information you can fill in before the appointment minimizes the number of things that can cause a delay.
Get to Know Your Demographics
Tracking Your Patient Flow
Having your staff time how long each appointment actually takes can help you get a better grasp on your schedule and make it easier for you to adjust if necessary. Have your staff record things like:
- What time the appointment was scheduled to start
- What time the appointment actually started
- When the patient went into the back room with an optometry assistant
- When the assistant left the back room after seeing the patient
- When the optometrist went in to see the patient and when they left the patient
- Which tests were done and how much time was spent on testing with the patient
This information will give you a solid idea of how long you can reasonably expect the average appointment to run.
Track Your Demographics
Have your staff make a note of patients that are consistently late, or whose appointments consistently run longer than planned, and use that information to build up patient demographics. For example, if you find that elderly patients tend to need more time for their appointments you can schedule slightly longer appointments for them. Or you might find that families with small children tend to run late, and schedule a bit of a buffer to accommodate them accordingly.
Address the Front Desk Bottleneck
Delays at the front desk can quickly snowball and put the entire office behind schedule. You can reduce delays at the front desk in two key ways.
Get a Dedicated Phone Receptionist
If the phone is constantly interrupting and your staff is spending a lot of time on the phone instead of on other tasks, it may make sense for you to handle the phones differently. Hiring a dedicated receptionist, who does not sit at the front desk, can free up other staff members for more specialized tasks and keep them from being interrupted unnecessarily. A dedicated phone receptionist can answer the phone, book appointments, and distribute calls as necessary.
Smart Checking System
Opt to use a visitor management system for your office. Boost productivity and efficiency by eliminating interruptions. Free up your front desks staff so you can get more done. Try using a system that easily connects to an ipad. It will allow for automated visitor check-in. Allowing your front desk to truly connect with your visitors and attend to more valuable tasks. With an automated system you can create a unique check-in process for different types of visitors. A smart checking system can pre-register expected guests for an expedited check-in process. The system will also save visitor details so frequent visitors don’t have to start from scratch every time. Below are some suggestions to review and try out:
Automate Manual Tasks
Any manual task, such as scheduling appointments, that can be automated without compromising patient care quality is worth it. Automation allows you to reduce the amount of time your staff spends on administrative tasks, giving them more time to focus on patients. You may consider offering appointment scheduling through your website, which would allow patients to check your office’s availability and select an available time slot that works for them without having to tie up staff on the phone.
You may also want to offer the ability for patients to fill out paperwork online before their appointment. This will not only keep things moving quickly once your patient arrives but can also cut down on delays caused by things like messy handwriting. We recommend considering digitizing your office with a software solution similar to one of the following:
Recruiting New Patients
Managing patient to doctor relationships are essential and the fabric of every medical practice. An optometric practice functions both as a medical office and a business in the selling of optical eyewear, sunwear, lenses and eyewear accessories. While building on existing relationship it is important to generate new business through acquired relationships and through digital & social media platforms. Consider using the following apps to create an account allowing potential new patients to find you and your practice:
Put yourself and your practice visible on the internet by leveraging new emerging medical social platforms, softwares and apps. It is a new year and time to try a new business development and marketing strategy. Let us know if any of these tip increase productivity, efficiency and increased patient list and sales at your practice.