As offices returned to seeing patients, I started noticing some trends. Higher eyeglass capture rates, higher diagnostic capture rates and fewer patients per day are some of the most notable.
For years, SIMI has advocated for a “work smarter not harder” philosophy that recommended seeing between 8-10 patients for every 7 hours of chair time. Our data analytics showed us that this formula consistently led to more diagnostics being offered and more glasses being sold.
COVID offered offices an opportunity to put this theory to the test. As they returned, doctor’s schedules were close to half of what they were pre-COVID. The result? In every office, gross revenue went up over last year, though they saw significantly fewer patients. Offices have made more money by seeing fewer patients.
Prior to COVID, eyeglass capture rates were trending around 40% on average through SIMI Analytics. In the past two months, that average has increased to 78%. Diagnostic testing has also increased. When not included in a full eye exam, the average capture rate changed from 20% to over 80%.
I am also cognizant of the fact that there are other factors that have contributed to these results. After 4 months, my own family has started to mistake blowing leaves for squirrels and are taking wild guesses at the ingredients listed on food packages. We ALL need our eyes checked, new prescriptions and glasses! So certainly, there is some pent up business that is being realized. Savvy receptionists are ensuring that patients with the greatest need are getting in first. Patients are less likely to leave with their prescriptions to “shop”, as they avoid too many unnecessary stops.
But I don’t think that’s the complete story. With more time allocated for each patient, doctors are able to spend longer with each patient, in a more focussed manner. It has become necessary to anticipate how much time each patient will spend in the office. This includes in the dispensary. Suddenly, the entire office is anticipating and prepared for patients to be assisted in the gallery. Is this is self-fulfilling prophecy?
As part of my consulting advice, I have often suggested that practices make a “plan” for each patient that day. Do we anticipate that they will do additional diagnostic testing? When did they purchase glasses last? Are they due to reorder contact lenses or drops? This plan becomes the goal for each patient. As well as ensuring that every solution is considered for and by the patient, the “plan” also helps everyone stay focussed.
My hope is that offices will take this opportunity to made a lighter schedule and “pre-planning” permanent routines in their office. There are benefits for everyone, patients, staff and doctors alike.
is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.