Is Your Head in the Clouds? Well Your Practice Should be in “The Cloud”!

Is Your Head in the Clouds? Well Your Practice Should be in “The Cloud”!

How cloud-based EHR & automated practice management will transform your office, save you time, and money.

By Adam Stelzer, O.D.

If you want to become a better optometrist, you should be using an EHR/practice management system in an effort to streamline your practice and optimize patient care. However, the key is getting the right system because you may risk setting yourself up for extra work, lost data, and even compromising patient information.

For years, optometrists have dealt with these frustrations. That’s why it is important to find an EHR/practice management system that is built by developers who understand the direct needs of their fellow colleagues. For optometry, there are solutions available that were built by optometrists, specifically for optometry. These solutions are better formatted for the flow of an eye exam, with short cuts to simplify common norms and medical reference databases, as well as auto-fills to quickly complete common procedures, impressions, and plans. There are even systems that integrate with labs, so you can order contact trials during an exam with the click of one button. You can trust that optometrists have a first-hand understanding about what tools would help streamline an eye exam and allow attention to be given to the patient, rather than data entry.

With such rapid advances in technology, we can all see that “the cloud” is extremely useful today and will be indispensable in the future. Soon enough, we’ll find that it will be utilized in every facet of life for securely warehousing all of our data.

A major benefit to a cloud-based system is that you greatly reduce the security risk that a local server system inherently has; where information can be stolen, damaged, or corrupted by it’s need for physical storage space. With a high quality cloud-based EHR/practice management system, your information is encrypted, so it cannot be stolen or compromised. It is virtually backed up, so the risk of losing data is greatly reduced. It is also accessible instantaneously from any location in the world. This allows the doctor to complete charts or access reports at any time. Your system needs to be fully secured and HIPPA-compliant.

The cloud doesn’t limit you to a room in your office, where you likely have limited storage capacity. Even if you previously saw a patient and charted their exam on paper, you should be able to scan and upload those charts into a cloud-based system. In a system with unlimited storage capacity they’ll be stored within that patient’s profile indefinitely. All of your past and current patients’ records are available to you conveniently within one system, even if they are at a different office location within your practice group. This eliminates the need for paper, boxes, storage, and makes it so much quicker to access.

Patients are now looking for health care providers that give them easier access to scheduling appointments online, getting appointment reminders via text messaging, the ability to complete paperwork in advance (eliminating time in the waiting area), as well as the ability to access their data online, and at any time. A modern system can offer a unique link to an online scheduling feature, with the ability to customize available appointment time slots and intervals between appointments, and integrate directly into your office schedule. Some cloud-based EHR/practice management systems can give patients access to a private portal where they can fill out their paperwork and medical history, which can significantly reduce patient check-in times. The patient can even access their prescriptions, invoices, and referrals after their appointment through their portal. This feature gives you and your staff back invaluable time to focus on more important things, such as patient care.

One of the biggest cost and time savings is from an integrated patient text messaging feature. You should look for a system that is fully comprehensive, so you can eliminate the high-cost third-party SMS services. With that feature included, it’s as if you’re hiring another staff member to do all of your patient recalls, but at no additional cost. You’ll want to find a system that gives you unlimited text messaging and two-way patient communication that can be done right from within the system. A great system will allow you to maintain and keep unique communication contacts and securely e-Fax them from within the system. This allows you to easily manage your patient information sharing; with pharmacies via e-Prescribing, other health-care professionals via patient referrals, with labs for optical material orders, and with third-party payers and clearinghouses for billing. Communication should be simple and automatically recorded under the patient’s profile.

Another major benefit to an EHR/practice management system is the ability to track analytics and generate reports. It is important to consider the analytics feature of a system not just as an “extra”, but as a powerful and necessary tool to help you track the statistics about your practice. These reports can show you the growth of your practice, in number of patients and sales volume, and even help target specific markets, products, or clients. You can also use the reporting to correct mismanagement and check the performance of staff, or even certain inventory items and products. It’s important to get daily summary reports, and a good system will allow you to create customized reports when you want them.

If you are not using a cloud-based EMR/practice management system, you need to reconsider your reasoning for not jumping on board. There are systems that are robust, completely customizable, and inclusive of all of the aforementioned must-haves, for as low as $99 per month. Explore your options, and be sure to recognize when a system is over-priced. Many times, you’re just paying for the markup and hidden fees of outdated systems, where those unnecessary costs are pushed onto you, the practice owner. There are great systems that offer new state-of–the-art platform designs with no contracts, no sign-up fees, no charges for updates. A select few will even give you and your staff training, as well as directly assist you in getting your data transferred from another system, at no additional charge. Take the few minutes to do a free demonstration to see how a system can fit your needs. With the right EHR/practice management solution, you can trust that you’ll find yourself less stressed with a more streamlined and efficient optometry practice – at least, it did for me!

 
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How to Reduce Eyewear Remakes

Whichever angle you look at it from, eyewear remakes are always costly.

They take additional time and resources because the order is placed again, which means that both, the clinic staff and lab technicians need to work all over for the second time.

Not only does this mean unsatisfied customers, which can ruin your reputation as a good optometrist, but can also lead to business losses as the eyewear is remade and re-shipped for the optical.

Although there can be various reasons why a customer asks for a remake, a prescription change recommended by a doctor is seldom one of them. It’s either that the customer finds their new glasses difficult to adjust to or it’s not to their liking and hence, they demand it to be changed.

While you are likely to keep a margin in your business and allow a free remake once per customer, don’t you wish the need doesn’t arise in the first place?

If you are looking for ways to reduce eyewear remakes, here are a few tips to help you make sure that your customers are satisfied when they try on their new glasses.

Have a clear conversation

If you want to master the art of refraction, start by listening to your patients very attentively.

Have a thorough conversation to see what type of glasses your customer wants. If they ask you for suggestions or leave the decision of design up to you, let them know what you think will suit them best and give them a sample to try on.

Give them time to make up their mind and make sure they are pleased before finalizing the order.

While most customers are usually very specific about what they want, listen attentively to determine whether they will be able to tolerate any changes in fabrication or not. Inform them beforehand if there’s a design or lens that may slightly differ from the one on display or shown in the catalog.

If there are customers with a past history of lens dissatisfaction, ask them to describe their ‘ideal’ eyeglasses. Discuss what issues they have faced before and how you can improve them.

Educate staff to troubleshoot

Your optical staff should be well trained to handle an unhappy customer.

Even if it gets a bit frustrating, the staff must maintain a friendly demeanor as they try to figure out what the issue is and how to fix it.

They should check if it’s a problem they can solve by themselves instead of simply sending the eyewear back to the lab.

Does the frame need a slight readjustment to ensure the customer is looking through the right part of the lens? Is there a pantoscopic tilt? Do the glasses lie flat on a surface or is the frame bent? Is it the way the patient is wearing the glasses?

Such minor issues can be easily fixed by the staff so make sure they are well trained to do that.

Moreover, if the customer demands a remake only because they feel that they are unable to adjust to their new eyewear, politely ask them to try the glasses for at least a week despite the initial discomfort.

Adjusting to a new pair of glasses takes time and they might not find the need for a remake once they wear it for a few days.

Characteristics of an Excellent Regional Manager in Corporate Optometry

Characteristics of Excellent Regional Managers in Corporate Optometry

Trust

They respect what ODs do and encourage ODs to practice the way they choose to. Don’t interfere with OD business. They understand that in order the optical to grow the OD side of the business needs to grow as well.

Work-Life Balance

They promote work life balance. They know that people work better and collaborate more if there is a balance. Burn out in corporate optometry is real.  Promoting a work life balance can help off set the burn out. Happy ODs can focus on growing a business and will result in increase in optical revenue.

Alignment

Keep optical staff focused on long term goals that includes growing the Doctor side of the business. Great regional managers understand the the patient experience is not an optical sale. Working with the Doctor side of the business will promote eye health and an image to the patient to continue to see the OD at that location. In the long term the patient that continues their care with that OD is more likely to continue to purchase from that optical. It can hedge from online retailers.

Support

Recognize and reward the optical staff and OD. Without the team goals can’t be achieved.

They encourage growth and want to see the OD business succeed. In the long term it will benefit the optical.

They won’t sacrifice the Doctor’s business to grow their own. Regional managers will not influence ODs office to offer quick services or cheapest eye exam in the area. They recognize this tactic will not grow the business in the long run.

Create a Culture of Accountability

They understand each location has unique strengths and weaknesses and use those intuition to create a strategic plan.

Provide resources to improve optical performance and find solutions. They do not blame.

When something goes wrong great regional managers work with the optical team and OD. They are accountable for their own results.