What You Need to Know About...Time

By Michael Karlsrud
Time. It’s an interesting concept that folks have wrestled with for years. It has been the subject of many great stories and the basis of hundreds of songs. We either have too much of it or not enough, but it seems never the right amount.

One of the more interesting opportunities and challenges in our industry is simply, time. A recent study was done that showed the number one reason why patients take 2.1 to 2.3 years to return to their O.D. is because of the time it takes for a comprehensive exam—almost 90 minutes in most offices.

In our experience as a consumer of health care, 90 minutes is by far the longest exam time among the three most used practitioners—general MD, dentist and eye doctor. Patients, according to the survey, don’t want to invest that much time on a yearly basis. Interesting to note—can you imagine what it would do your business if you could help doctors create an exam process that would encourage patients to return annually instead of semi-annually? Can you say “double?”

Doctors too, have an issue with time. Many are feeling they are working too hard, too long and too many days a week. They too, have no time to do what they want to do.
Lab owners, seem to have time! After years of investing in equipment to make their business run smoother, faster and with less spoilage, the well-oiled lab machine is ready to take on more business from a broader base of customers. You may not be able to help a patient recoup their time in the exam process, but you may be able to help your doctor meet their goals of finding more time.

First, there are some practices today that dispense glasses and contacts only on certain days of the week. The rest of the time is all about exams, follow-ups and selling solutions. The chaos that often comes with patients picking up their glasses and fitting them correctly can be disruptive to office and patient flow. You may want to discuss with your customers how they can segregate days of the week for certain activities that chew up bunches of time.

Second, many offices are short on time because they live on the edge of never having enough staff. As new tests are administered and new exam equipment is being used, each phase or step takes more time. If you see 40 patients a day and a new test adds 2 minutes to each exam that represents almost 90 minutes a day added to the schedule. While you may not be able to influence that number, it is good to know the time robbers in an office that leaves less time for you to make your presentations and service your customer.

Third, and rightly so, there is a huge push to change the way we think about optometry. Our industry is solely unique in that it has a medical office in the back, and a retail store in the front. Each area of the office requires the patient to be handled in a very personal and customary way. However, all this personalized attention means that something has to give and often times this falls in the area of reception, recall, reactivation, and patient retention. Sadly, the patient who isn’t there is just as important as the one who is there, but may be getting less than stellar attention. This you can do something about this. Laboratories and optical practices alike share the same life-blood of getting patients in the door and butts in seats. Without that initial exam, we would not be able to respond to the 68 percent of patients who need some kind of correction. So what can you do to help solve the issue of time with doctors and increase patient flow?

Recommend, introduce and dare I say “PAY FOR” a service that will reach out to patients with a single focus of getting them back into the chair! There are several in our industry that use technology to accomplish much of the heavy lifting with little effort and cost, once it is set up. 4 PatientCare, DemandForce and SolutionReach are all options that are extremely effective and won’t break the bank. In addition, for those offices who have not captured e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers or live in rural areas, there is the option of myTelecare that provides “live” opticians taking and placing calls on behalf of the doctor. The benefits and effectiveness of outsourcing patient communication is well documented. Be the laboratory that steps out of the box and focuses on business development for you and your doctor customer. Give the greatest gift of all…time.

Michael Karlsrud is the owner and CEO of 6 Calls, a tele-services company that serves the optical industry. www.karlsrudcompany.com or www.6Calls.biz

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May/June LabTalk 2017