Like many eye care professionals, you may be taking some time this month to step back and reevaluate your short and long-term goals for your ophthalmic practice. Did you consider 2022 a successful year? Are you on track for where you had hoped to be at this point in your career? Are there things you can do differently in 2023 to better achieve your objectives?
Just as January is a popular time for making personal resolutions about health and wellness, it is also a great time to focus on resolutions that benefit the overall wellness of your practice, your staff, and your patient base. We have highlighted five key goals below to help you get started.
1. Focus on your staff.
An efficient and successful practice begins with a highly trained group of employees who can not only keep things running smoothly but also ensure that your patients feel welcome and cared for.
Begin the year by sitting down with each of your staff members, from the administrative professionals to your ophthalmic technicians, and ask how you can support them in the new year. Set aside room in your budget to provide the necessary training, workshops, or other educational opportunities they may need; this will likely pay off in the long run by benefiting both your patients and your practice.
If you are looking to hire additional staff in 2023, make a list of the education, experience, and attributes that you would like each person to have for each role. This will make it easier to scan resumes and discern the best applicants. Here are some tips on finding, training, and retaining staff for your ophthalmic practice.
2. Focus on your patients.
Your patients are the lifeblood of your practice. What can you do to better serve them in 2023? Research shows that the top priorities among eye care patients today include less in-office wait time, better-quality care, and lower costs.
If you haven't already, create an automated online portal through which patients can schedule appointments, fill out paperwork, and access their records. This will significantly cut down on wait time and improve patient flow.
Of course, don't focus too closely on streamlining patient flow that you forget to connect with your patients and provide compassionate care. While you may only have a few minutes with each patient throughout the day, make those minutes count by listening to their concerns, helping them understand each test during their appointment, and making sure they understand the specifics of their condition or any necessary procedures they may need.
Finally, look for ways to keep costs low for your patients while still providing quality care. Here are some tips for cost containment in your eye care practice.
3. Refresh your marketing strategy.
If your marketing strategy hasn't changed since pre-pandemic days—or worse, since you first opened your doors—it may be time to hit the reset button.
Begin by doing a deep dive into your existing patient base and learning who they are, where they live, and where they are most likely to be reached. Americans nowadays spend over six hours a day online, and about half of that time is spent on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
If you are still relying on billboards or print ads to get the word out about your practice, consider allocating a portion of your marketing budget to digital and/or social media advertising to expand your reach and bring in more new patients.
4. Enhance your online presence.
This goes hand in hand with refreshing your marketing strategy. If it has been a while since you updated your website, consider doing a full audit of your site to make sure it is optimized and easily accessible for patients. Check out these tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) to make sure your site is seen by as many people as possible.
Next, build your social media presence by creating accounts with some of the top-used social media sites. If you already have accounts but post inconsistently or hardly ever, consider dedicating more time and energy to creating engaging content that will help you connect with existing and prospective patients. It may even be worth it to hire a part-time social media manager.
5. Upgrade your equipment and technology.
Are you still relying on manual equipment in your ophthalmic practice? If so, you may want to consider going digital 2023. Digital systems are faster, more accurate, and easy to integrate with your existing EMR software. They also help to significantly reduce the pain and discomfort often experienced with manual instruments (due to repetitive motion).
Overall, doctors report seeing up to six more patients per exam room, per day after making the switch to digital equipment—in particular digital refraction systems like the highly affordable Veatch Digital Refraction Suite. Another bonus? Less time spent flipping plates and adjusting instruments means more face time with your patients, which has been shown to improve overall patient satisfaction.