As a future employee, associate or optometry practice owner, making your optometry practice easy to do business with, will give it a significant competitive advantage, garner patient loyalty and improve practice revenue. Here are a few of the many ways it can be done:
Provide an easy-to-use web portal
A patient portal will enable patients to…
- schedule, reschedule or if necessary, cancel appointments
- access and print health history forms which can be filled out prior to coming to the office
- view and update their contact
- insurance and other personal information
- make electronic payments
- request prescription refills
- receive test results
- and exchange secure messages with doctors
To make these interactions even more convenient, give patients the freedom to connect to your optometry practice from their smart phones via a mobile app.
The statistics are impressive: According to EyeCarePro data in December 2013, optometric websites saw a rise in mobile traffic to 33 percent, up nearly 6 percent from the previous month. Of that traffic, mobile phones increased by 6.5 percent to 25.19 percent and tablet usage increased 4 percent to nearly 8 percent of overall traffic. Additionally, Google has stated that websites that are not optimized (made accessible for mobile devices) will be penalized in search engine rankings.
Needless to say, make sure your website is HIPAA compliant and as secure as possible.
Offer Third-Party Financing
In this economy, many patients are reluctant to put more debt on their credit cards and often don’t have enough money on hand to pay the out-of-pocket costs of products or services not covered by their insurance.
Allowing patients to utilize third-party financing enables them to spread out their payments, in some cases, interest-free so it’s not a huge strain on their budgets.
Optometrists benefit from third-party financing by having patients more receptive to designer eyewear and premium lenses, multiple pairs of glasses, annual supplies of contact lenses, prescription and plano sunwear, computer eyeglasses, color contact lenses, corneal refractive therapy, vision therapy and more. In addition, ODs are paid in a timely fashion, spend fewer resources on in-house billing and are able to preserve a positive doctor/patient relationship.
Utilize Electronic Health Records
One of the many benefits of using EHR software is that doctors and patients are both able to save a lot of time. Patient records, health histories and other important information can be retrieved more quickly, enabling doctors to focus more on the patient.
Increase phone availability
Many optometry practices have telephone access only from 9 am to 5 pm and are “closed” for lunch. This makes no sense if early morning callers are working men and women who don’t want, or are unable, to call from work. For similar reasons, some patients may prefer to call you during their lunch break or at the end of their workday after 5 pm. New-patient callers (with any of the above restrictions) are not likely to call back.
Consider having an early “first in” receptionist who comes in before the doctor and other team members arrive. This is to handle those early morning calls for appointments. Consider also, a lunchtime receptionist for mid-day calls and a designated “last out” receptionist for those late-day calls.
Have convenient office hours
9 to 5 office hours are simply not convenient for many of today’s time-pressured patients. Some have long commutes or start work early or work late and would like an office with early morning and/or evening appointments. ODs who have these appointment times (even for one or two mornings or nights a week) tell me they’re booked solid well in advance.
Strive to be on time
On-time appointments are at the top of every patient’s wish list. It’s one of the critical keys to making an optometry practice easy to do business with. Make it happen!
If you’re not yet affiliated with an optometry practice, consider adding these features to the list of things you’re looking for when joining an optometry practice or starting your own.
Bob Levoy is the author of 7 books on practice management
- From a review by G. Timothy Petito, O.D., in Optometry (published by the American Optometric Association) – “I would recommend this book to anyone in practice or who is contemplating practice. If you could successfully integrate just one of the 201 management pearls from this book, it would be the best money invested this year.”
- From a Review in Optometric Physician by Arthur B. Epstein, OD, FAAO, Chief Medical Editor – “Bob Levoy has been a true practice management guru for longer than many of us have been practicing. His latest work, 201 Secrets of a High-Performance Optometric Practice (Butterworth-Heinemann), may be the most practically useful practice management text ever. Chock full of helpful and direct advice from many of the profession’s leading practitioners and focused by Bob’s keen insight, 201 Secrets is a 250-page book that’s sparse on words but amazingly rich in content. I can’t imagine an O.D. in practice today who would not benefit from reading–and perhaps rereading–this wonderful work. Highly recommended!