Youíve Had the Y2K Fever,
Now Hereís the Cure
Randolph Brooks, O.D., F.A.A.O.
SECOND OF TWO PARTS
Y2K fever seems has dissipated somewhat in my practice. Our computers
and instruments still work. Patients have stopped asking for a 20-year
supply of disposable contact lenses. However, many of us still have one
burning concern: Will we have enough patients and can we address their
needs well into the new millennium? This is especially important because
managed care will continue to be part of our practices.
Last month we looked at 10 ways to jump-start your practice for the
new millennium. Here are 10 more.
The new millennium is an ideal time to pursue new ideas that could yield
better care for your patients and better margins for your practice, even
with managed care. In other words, doctors, itís for sure: Youíve had Y2K
fever; now you have the cure.
Carefully evaluate managed-care plans. You donít want to adopt the something-is-
better-than-nothing philosophy and sign up for every plan that comes your
way, even if itís not good for your practice. Still, you donít want to
overlook reputable plans that want O.D.s on their panels. Find a safe middle
Evaluate your instrumentation. Decide if itís time to invest in new equipment.
Ask yourself: Would the new instrument make you more efficient or allow
you to offer new services? New equipment often pays for itself by increasing
revenues and enhancing patientsí perceptions of your practice.
Survey your patients regularly. Follow up on both positive and negative
responses. This will help you provide better care.
Join with other O.D.s. Merging with another practice, affiliating with
a reputable, financially sound physician practice management corporation
or forming a network offers several advantages. Among them: cooperative
purchasing, shared employees and shared computer systems. These options
arenít right for everyone, but consider whether they might be right for
Market your practice internally. Remember, it costs more to attract new
patients than to keep current ones. Use newsletters, signs, posters and
brochures to tell patients about your practice, especially any specialty
services you provide. Consider developing your own web site as well. Or,
e-mail patients about any new products and services you offer or to schedule
appointments. (First make sure this is OK with the patient.)
Review your forms. The reports you send other health professionals should
be printed on your current letterhead and provide all the information necessary
for the patientís care. Make sure your internal forms, including your routing
slip, exam and case history forms, are current, and that your employees
can easily understand them.
Donít forget the dispensary. Perhaps itís time to update your displays
and the frame styles you carry. Your frame representatives can help you
manage their allotted space on your frame boards. Also address specific
needs of patients, including sports eyewear, computer eyewear, and specialty
tints, coatings and edge treatments. Educate patients, both in the exam
room and the dispensary, about why they should keep their Rxes in your
Ensure patient follow-through. Recommend any follow-up care or materials
to the patient during the exam. Repeat those suggestions to the patient
in front of an employee. Do the same for recall, but this time in front
of your front-desk staff. Educate patients about why they should return.
Educate the medical community. Consider obtaining hospital privileges (if
they are available in your area). Youíll be able to interact with physicians
and specialists in your area, who may then refer patients. Also join community,
civic and religious organizations to meet other health-care professionals.
Remember to send physicians report letters, especially when the information
may influence the physicianís care. These letters also remind physicians
that optometrists provide more than ďroutineĒ services.
Prepare your office facilities. Managed-care audits and facility inspections
are becoming more common, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
may come calling in the future. Make sure the external and internal portions
of your office are well maintained. Consider allocating money for any necessary
E-mail questions to Dr. Brooks at email@example.com, or send
them c/o Review of Optometry, 11 Campus Blvd., Suite 100, Newtown Square,
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© Review of Optometry OnLine
February 15, 2000