Routine eye exams are essential for healthy vision. Not only are they needed to ensure eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions are kept up to date, but yearly exams provide a chance for eye care practitioners to assess the overall vision health and potentially identify early warning signs of serious eye diseases.
Still, most patients want to get in, get out, and get on with their lives.
Fortunately, there are simple, proven strategies doctors can implement to accelerate patient exams and eliminate long wait times and crowded patient waiting areas. The following tips will not only help you streamline patient flow, but also to see more patients throughout the day, thereby helping you to grow your practice and increase revenue.
1. Email your patients in advance.
Prior to their appointment, send patients an email letting them know what to expect at their appointment, what tests will be completed, and what information they should bring (e.g., a list of current medications) to help the eye exam run smoothly. For new patients, attach the necessary forms to the email so they can fill them out in advance and bring the completed paperwork to their appointment. Creating an email template or using an email automation program is another big time saver.
2. Delegate as much (and as often) as possible.
Take the time to analyze each of your daily tasks and determine which ones truly require your expertise and experience and which do not. While there are certain duties only a doctor may perform according to state laws and regulations, consider delegating everything else to a qualified technician or staff member. Examples include note taking, data entry, and making routine phone calls.
3. Train your technicians well.
Invest the time—and if need be, the expense—in building a team of competent and reliable technicians. It will absolutely pay off in the long run, especially when it comes to keeping exam time to a minimum. Provide the necessary training to ensure your techs are equipped with the skills and knowledge to help you run an efficient practice. Work with them to develop an order and a structure to their part of the exam process, and your patients will enjoy a more detailed and complete eye exam in less time.
4. Be attentive, but keep conversation to a minimum.
It is reasonable to expect that your patients will have questions during an exam. However, unnecessary small talk drains away precious minutes of valuable exam time. While doctors should always provide thoughtful answers to ensure their patients feel heard and respected, don't hesitate to be politely assertive and take control if the exam is dragging on because a patient is being overly chatty.
5. Invest in digital technology to streamline the exam process and reduce re-make exams.
A digital refraction system is one of the best ways to shorten exam time and improve efficiency in your modern vision care practice. It quickly provides an accurate, precise prescription to help eliminate the need for follow-up adjustments. A digital refractor also cuts down on the excess time spent manually adjusting and entering data, which can take up a significant amount of time as the patient provides feedback to determine the correct prescription. The level of imagery available with a digital system also provides a detailed picture of your patient's eye health and, if there is any disease or illness, allows them to see and understand the diagnoses to a greater degree. Another added bonus: Your technicians can be trained to operate much of the equipment, freeing up your time to interact with patients on a more clinical level.
Shorter exam times offer tangible benefits for your practice.
Start by looking at your exams as an outsider and taking an inventory of each component. Ask yourself if certain steps take longer than necessary, and consider how you might implement these strategies to reduce exam time. The benefits will be easy to spot, including higher patient satisfaction rates, increased word-of-mouth marketing, and more free time for you to dedicate to growing and scaling your practice.
Contact Veatch Ophthalmic Instruments today to learn more about streamlining your exam process, including the many benefits of digital refraction systems for a more efficient and profitable practice.