Using Ophthalmic Equipment to Grow Your Ophthalmic Practice
Running a successful ophthalmic practice, like any medical practice, is a challenge. Not only are you faced with a myriad of patients and diagnoses, but you are also faced with a constantly changing landscape of ophthalmic equipment, instrumentation and technology. If you invested in every piece of new ophthalmic equipment on the market you would doubtless run your practice into bankruptcy so how do you choose what to implement and what to wait on? How do you grow your practice thoughtfully and purposefully? How do you learn which kind of ophthalmic technology will work best for you?
Let's start with the basics of running an ophthalmic practice. If you are looking at setup costs you need to make sure that you have certain pieces of ophthalmic equipment and specific diagnostic equipment to help you practice effectively. This includes items like ophthalmoscopes, retinoscopes, transilluminators, slit lamps and basic acuity and perimetry testing. You'll also need simple pre-test equipment like color tests, distance eye charts, vision testers and occluders. The choices and sheer volume of equipment can make selection daunting. Additionally, the decision between buying automated ophthalmic equipment or manual equipment or new vs. used ophthalmic equipment can also muddy the waters of decision making.
Some questions to ask yourself:
How much capital do you have to invest in ophthalmic equipment?
What demographics make up your patient base?
How much staff do you have?
How many patients do you want to see each day?
Do you need surgical ophthalmic equipment or surgical diagnostic equipment?
Will you be dispensing prescriptions?
Many online ophthalmic equipment suppliers out there will encourage you to buy used equipment which offers a cheaper price, and comes with fewer features. Although this may be tempting, think through your decision carefully. In many instances, using technology to your advantage can offer long term savings. For instance, if you are looking at any automated ophthalmic equipment, like an auto refractor for example, making the investment in a machine that can automatically offer precision refractive data in a fraction of the time could be a very smart. If you can find ways to use technology to make your practice run more efficiently, you will garner a strong reputation as an optometrist, ophthalmologist or optician who is technology savvy and who runs on time.
Technology today can also help you diagnose more accurately and prescribe better and more effective lenses for glasses or contact lenses for daily use. Corneal topographers for instance, use technology to map the surface of the eye to help ophthalmic professionals more accurately understand the state of a patient's cornea and also takes other measurements that can help to fit contact lenses more effectively. This type of ophthalmic equipment is also incredibly important if you are recommending a patient for any kind of refractive surgery. Digital imaging is also very useful in properly diagnosing patient conditions. Although many felt that digital imaging could not take the place of manual ophthalmic diagnostic hand held testing insturments, it has now been shown that it is very accurate and can offer high resolution images of the retina and detailed anterior surface imaging.
Another reason to look for advanced ophthalmic equipment is to increase patient comfort. No one enjoys getting tested for glaucoma. The puff of air to test intra-ocular pressure with a traditional tonometer can be stressful and uncomfortable so why not invest in the advanced non contact tonometer that can conduct this test with a minimal amount of air pressure? This commitment to investing in technology to increase a patient's feeling of well being can serve you well in repeat patients and in referrals to friends and family. Using advanced technology that makes diagnosis both efficient and comfortable will help your grow your practice into the future.
A word to the wise, if you move forward with cutting edge technology and effective ophthalmic equipment you do need to commit to maintaining that equipment so that it will last into the future. With every piece of equipment you buy, you should ensure that you follow any maintenance schedules and that you have appropriate dust covers and cleansers on hand. You need to make sure you have the correct ophthalmic bulbs, the right computers and even the right printer paper to ensure correct use and long life of all of your ophthalmic instruments.
The goal with all of your ophthalmic equipment and ophthalmic instruments should be to use technology to be a better care giver. If you can make your diagnosis faster and more comfortable, you will grow your practice. If you use technology effectively so that you can see more patients then you will also see growth. If you combine effective ophthalmic equipment with a comfortable and competent attitude, staff and atmosphere you will watch your ophthalmic practice grow and become more profitable.