From November 18 to 20, 2022, eyecare practitioners (ECPs) from around the world gathered online for Eyes On 2023, a 3 day educational summit offering up to 9 hours of COPE-accredited CE and CME providing the latest innovations in the ophthalmic industry.
Enjoy this presentation from Jessilin Quint, OD, MS, MBA, FAAO, and don't forget to check out our list of future events!
Please note these videos are provided for review only.
Sometimes, in order to be successful, you have to go back to the basics. The end of the year is the perfect time to evaluate progress and make plans for the future. Any practice can go back to basics
, regardless of size, and any person on any level of practice management can implement new ideas.
This year, because we’re not looking to add new locations or make drastic changes, my partners and I focused on returning to the basics to ensure a strong, solid foundation for our practice going forward. As a business owner
, I find that I am always brainstorming ways to grow and improve my practice. However, brainstorming is only the first part of the process; implementation requires planning.
Not all plans will be successful but don’t be discouraged by failure because failure is often how we learn and grow.
Building the foundation: employee engagement
The first optometry practice foundational basic I’m going to strengthen in the new year is employee engagement. Employee engagement is the degree to which employees invest their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral energies toward positive organizational outcomes
. Practices with engaged employees radiate a positive energy that is noticeable to patients.
Overall, it makes work-life better: engaged employees have a greater sense of meaning in what they do, and patients can see that. A happier work life and positive energy
are excellent things to strive for, but implementing changes to make that happen can feel daunting. I always try to pair employees with their interests and assign leadership roles to them to help develop a greater sense of purpose.
These changes do not need to be big or extravagant! Sometimes it's as simple as looking at an employee’s job description. I think it’s great that practices have found improved engagement from simply renaming job titles.
Tip: Changing “Receptionist” to “Director of First Impressions” or “Optical Assistant” to “Frame Stylist” creates a lighter, more positive environment. Being fun and innovative doesn’t cost you anything, but it's a simple thing that could engage your employees.
Encourage growth and learning by nurturing employees’ curiosity
Employees who are comfortable with what they do and feel confident that they know what they are doing will be more engaged. My practice puts a lot of emphasis on training
, either perfecting an individual skill set or company training, so employees will have the level of confidence that they need to do their best. It’s important to invest in your employees. You need to pay your employees appropriately, but in addition to monetary compensation, evaluate the incentives your office offers.
Tip: This may be allowances for continuing education, office retreats, or paid time off. We’ve developed a “Wellness benefit” as an incentive for our employees, where we give them a yearly allowance to put toward anything that improves their overall wellness.
Focus on morale
At its core, employee morale doesn’t cost a lot. Employees want to be respected and trusted
. Remember to recognize the employees for the work that they do and learn about them. Learn what they like, and ask them what will make their work feel rewarded. For example, some people are more motivated by time off than monetary rewards.
Tip: Our office will often have new team members fill out a “love language” quiz to learn about how they handle conflict and what motivates them. Positive company culture isn’t expensive, it’s everyday experiences and values.
It’s important not to lose sight of these basics as a practice grows. The larger a company gets, the harder it can be to ensure that these small things that all add up to strong morale and positive engagement aren’t being missed.
Improving internal and external communication
The next basic I will be focusing on in 2023 is communication. Internal communication, which is defined by face-to-face interaction, in-office instant messaging, and emails, needs to be used effectively and positively. It takes practice! I’m a huge advocate for active listening, and I recommend in-office training on effective workplace communication.
Tip: A few times a year, I will have my office do active listening exercises to improve their skills. One of my favorite exercises is “Back-to-Back Drawing,” in which two employees sit back to back, one with an object and one with a pen and paper. The employee with the object has to describe it to their coworker, who then has to draw it. The goal of the exercise is to think about how what you say is being perceived.
The second part of communication is external communication: appointment reminders
, emails, or the “contact us” form on the website. Evaluate the tone and language used to be sure that it is communicating your office’s values. When training employees, break down your practice’s values so they can effectively communicate them. Do not assume that your staff knows how to communicate. You have to give them the tools and skill sets that they need so they can effectively communicate.
Perfecting the patient experience
Revisit your patient touch points:
Then, after all these points have been addressed, find ways to assess and track these improvements. This could be by looking at patient retention, using surveys to ask patients about the changes made, or simply asking the opinion of patients who you have a relationship with.
Tip: The patient experience starts long before they arrive in the office. Take a step back and walk through your patient’s experience, and consider how your office parking lot or lobby entrance is perceived. Is it clean? Does it smell nice? Also, ensure you are maximizing opportunities to educate the patient on products and services that are available while they wait for their appointment.
Using new technology to your advantage
New technology in a practice can be new equipment; I’m particularly excited about the addition of Lipiflow
to my practice, but new technology is also about utilizing software to help the practice run better.
Tip: Using organization tools like Airtable or Hootsuite for social media posting help simplify the online presence of your practice, and using platforms like Monday.com for project management helps keep everyone on task.
Because of the size of my practice, I plan on implementing new training videos in 2023 to use technology to my advantage and create multiple ways to educate my employee base.
Implementing diversity and inclusion measures
The demographic in Maine is not practically diverse, and so in my experience and my office’s experience, with diversity is limited. That being said, it's important to me that we achieve a certain level of literacy when it comes to diversity and inclusion
in the workplace, especially under conditions where an office may not have many opportunities to do so.
Tip: To implement this goal in 2023, I plan on bringing in an expert to increase awareness and education.
Expanding the team
Our offices are planning on adding a few new members to the team in 2023, and we’ll look at turnover rates because, as we know, turnover is expensive. To do that, I’m going to focus on trends of turnover, looking at specific roles or departments with higher turnover rates, and implementing exit interviews to improve retention
Tip: Other ways to improve retention are to celebrate milestones and continue to focus on positive culture and morale. Positive office culture and high morale will help attract the right candidates.
Focusing on growth
My partners and I will be evaluating our financial plan to grow strategically. This requires keeping up with the rising costs of things like frames and supplies while also continuing to increase employee wages. My main focus to succeed in this will be to increase sales
and decrease expenses wherever possible. It's another example of something that is very basic, but it's an important factor for a healthy practice.
Key metrics to track productivity
- Gross revenue per exam
- Exams per OD hour
- Gross revenue per staff hour
- Gross revenue per square foot of office space
- Expense ratio ranges
Tip: To increase revenue, we’ll identify areas for growth and implement changes. I plan on using key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess our current financial strategy, to make sure we’re getting the most out of our practice.
The most important thing is to develop a strategy for implementation. You can have ideas and things you want to improve upon, but if you don’t have a strategy, it’ll only amount to so much. I hope these changes I plan on making have inspired you to implement positive changes
in your own practices in the coming year.