How Do Patients Prefer to Be Contacted to Schedule Appointments?

Most  people (44.7%) prefer to be contacted over the phone when scheduling for their next appointment, according to Jobson Optical Research’s Waiting Game Insight Survey. Scheduling an appointment before leaving the office came next with 19.7% choosing that mode of communication for recall. More of the younger respondents, ages of 18 to 34, preferred e-mail (17.9%) to the older 55+ age group (13.1%) and vice versa for regular mail, preferred by only 12.9% of the younger age group, and almost a quarter (24.9%) of the oldest age group.

Capture each patient’s preferred method of communication.  Put this information in the patient’s record so it can be updated on each patient visit. Use a simple questionnaire with each patient such as:

What is the best way for us to communicate with you about your next office visit?
[  ]  E-mail
[  ]  Telephone
[  ]  Text message
[  ]  Traditional mail
[  ]  Twitter

Make sure you create office systems that utilize the patient’s preferred method of communication. There are excellent programs available today that can help you manage patient communications more effectively.  

Increasing the effectiveness of your patient communications results in increased patient compliance with your prescribed treatment plans.

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Hire More, Earn More?

The average salary of OD owner/partners in practices with one to three people is $87,188, according to Jobson Optical Research’s and Local Eye Site’s ECP Compensation Study. The average salary of OD owner/partners increases to $182,592 in practices with four or more people. The average OD owner/partner’s salary at practices with one location is $137,546, while the average salary of OD owner/partner’s at practices with more than one location is $207, 771.

A common problem in a smaller practice is the doctor who is doing two jobs-the jobs of both a data gatherer and a data analyzer. If the doctor is doing the entire examination without assistance from staff, then the doctor is seeing fewer patients per day than is possible. Delegating some of the examination to staff frees up the doctor to see more patients per day. This raises the gross revenue of the practice and, with careful management, also raises the doctor’s income.

A common misconception why doctors do not delegate is the belief that patients think they are getting a better examination if the doctor does all the testing. This is simply not true. Think about your last visit with your general physician. Who did the majority of the testing? Odds are it was not the doctor. The doctor came in at the end, looked over the results, maybe did a test or two, then, made the case presentation.  

If we are going to exist in the medical world, then we need to make our practices look more like the medical world. That means the doctor needs to become more of a data analyzer and less of a data gatherer. Start today by assigning a few tests to staff to do for you such as visual acuity. As you get comfortable, then you can assign more tests to staff to do for you. When you feel proficiency levels are reached, then you can readjust your schedule to see more patients per day without working any more hours per day.  

Efficiency is the key word for making the practice work well in the managed care environment in which we live today.

What is Most Important to Patients About Your Office?

When asked about what is most important in the eye doctor’s office, 89.2% said that it is very or somewhat important that the doctor’s office utilize the latest technology and instrumentation, according to Jobson Optical Research’s The Waiting Game report. Hours of operation came in next with 61% of respondents saying that weekday hours (before 9 am or after 5 pm) are very or somewhat important and 56.1% saying that weekend hours are very or somewhat important.

The leading edge of the Baby Boomers just hit age 66. This large group of people are going to have a major impact on our practices. They will change our practices over the next 20 years as they move from age 66 to 86. Cataracts, diabetes, hypertension, macular degeneration … chronic disease management is what we need to be preparing for in our practices.

As we think about the Baby Boomers, the most important question is: What is it that the Baby Boomers are looking for in an eye examination? They want two things: personalized attention and high-tech exams. The Jobson research is telling us that almost 90% of our patients want a high-tech exam. So, our action plan is to look at what you are currently doing. Are you offering a high-tech exam? Are patients reporting to you that they are impressed with your high-tech exam?  If not, put in place today a plan to make that happen.

What is Most Important to Your Patient’s Comfort in Your Waiting Room?

Some 59.3% of patients say a friendly receptionist is “very important” to their comfort while in your waiting room, according to Jobson Optical Research’s 2011 Waiting Game report. Another 46.9% say a comfortable temperature is very important, while 44.9% cite comfortable chairs as very important. Some 25.8% find it very important to have reading materials available, while 13.1% consider it very important to have a television to watch. Another 11.2% say it is very important to have a children’s play area; 8.5% think modern decor is very important; and 6.6% find it very important to have computers to use.