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This Simple Change Can Make Your Eyecare Business Way More Efficient

It seems like a small step, but it can have a big impact.

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IF I TOLD YOU that I had one easy protocol you can incorporate in your practice that can save you time, enhance your relationship with patients and grow your business, you’d do it, right?

Well, I do, and here it is: Encourage (well, instruct) patients to fill in online patient information, history and registration forms before their visit.

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Yup. It seems like a small step, but this small act can have a big impact on your practice. In fact, if you don’t have this protocol in place you are missing out on precious opportunities for your practice.

Instructing a patient, especially a new patient, to fill out these forms on your website before coming in for an appointment achieves three main objectives:

Increasing Office Efficiency

This step makes life easier for the doctor and the practice and streamlines the patient’s visit.

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The five to 10 minutes that it takes the patient to fill in these forms by hand can cause delays in the patient flow of the practice. When pre-filled online, the information is automatically inputted into the patient’s record (saving the administrative staff the time of entering by hand) and the file can be ready for the patient as soon as they walk in the door. This is a win-win. It saves time for the practice, keeps the schedule running on time and saves the patient time waiting. Your patients will appreciate this convenience and the modern services you provide.

Familiarizing Patients with the Doctor’s Website

Filling in your online forms forces a patient to visit your site, even if the patient calls in to schedule the appointment. Why is this important?

First of all, it gives the patient more of a chance to familiarize with the practice, read about the doctor, his services and specialties, and find out about other options available, such as specialty eyewear, dry eye treatments and vision therapy. This will make the practice more impressive (especially to the new patient) and has the potential to boost sales because it may lead to the patient inquiring about additional products or services of interest.

Secondly, it increases patient retention and loyalty. In the digital age, familiarity with your website will not only ingrain your practice into memory, but will likely help you come up higher on their next Google search. (Your site is also likely stored in the cache or user search history of the device.) This means quicker and easier mental retrieval and web retrieval of your practice website and information.

The more they learn about your practice, the more your patients will feel connected to your practice, and the more likely they will be to think of you for their eyecare needs in the future.

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Lastly, once patients have visited your site, they are more likely to make referrals. They might leave a positive review on your site, Facebook page or a local business directory, or send a link to a friend seeking eyecare. Once they have connected with you online, the potential network becomes endless.

Increasing Traffic and Time on Site

These are important factors for Google and for increasing your search ranking to help more new patients find your practice. This is particularly on point for practices that are struggling to increase traffic. Encourage patients to fill in your online forms and not only will they spend more time on your site, but so will others who will be able to find it easier.

Remember, your website is your 24-hour business card, and so much more. When your patients are visiting your website, it is just like a virtual visit to your office, where they can get to know you and build trust for a future of eyecare together.

Zvi Pardes is the Head of content marketing at EyeCarePro, which provides ECPs with educational content that helps them advance their practices through technology, management strategies and digital marketing. EyeCarePro serves both industry and practices and is the only company of its kind solely focused on the optometric space. Contact him at zvi@eyecarepro.net.

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Columns

When You’re Rushed for Time, Don’t Take Shortcuts

These time savers help you stay on schedule, reduce stress, capture more, and make more revenue with happier, less confused patients.

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THE DOCTOR RUNS on a schedule and optical must do everything possible to stick to that schedule. If the doctor is running a 30 minute comprehensive exam, it’s not near as difficult to adhere to the same patient schedule in the optical, but today, most practices run 10, 15, or 20 minute exam schedules and it likely causes a backup in the optical.

In a comprehensive exam, the doctor is typically not disturbed by phone calls, or other interruptions. But in the optical, it is common to answer phone calls inquiring about when glasses will be ready, to service walk-in patients looking for an adjustment, repair or dispense, or for a patient who ran out of time to return to shop for eyewear. These “interruptions” cause us to get behind schedule. Then, we find ourselves hurrying to catch up. What suffers? Sales and attention to detail.

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Podcast: Is Eyecare in Canada Really More Like the US Than We Think?

Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?
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Podcast: What Exactly Does it Take to Become America’s Finest Optical Retailer?

Podcast: Why Optical (and Especially Optical Retail) Is Lagging Behind Other Industries
INVISION Podcast

Podcast: Why Optical (and Especially Optical Retail) Is Lagging Behind Other Industries

Consider the following ideas to reduce lost time:

Create an Optical Schedule

An optical schedule provides the control to reserve/schedule optical consumer needs; such as those who want to come back later for glasses, and reduces the many calls from patients requesting glasses updates, etc. It’s easy to get a fax daily from the lab for lens spoilages, and easy enough to reschedule the few of those that won’t make it back from the lab within 10 days.

Pre-Appoint Dispensing

The more patients you pre-appoint for glasses dispensing, the less bottlenecking occurs during ‘prime time’ patient schedules. Reserve this time during the glasses order and carve it out on the optical schedule before they usually head to work. In our office optical experts take turns two days a week dispensing eyewear from 7:30 to 8:45 as optical customers are headed to work; our doctors begin med checks at 8:30 while first comprehensive patients are in pre-exam.

Don’t Explain the “Add-Ons”

Don’t break down the individual lens treatment components. AR, Blue AR, High Index are “essential,” not add-ons. Your optical consumer wants to buy a pair or two of glasses, not a list of all-too-confusing add-ons, which you know leads to “Do I need it?” “Did the doctor say I need it?” “I didn’t hear the doctor say I need it?” “Is it covered?” Make it simple and simply include the “essentials” into the total lens price. You bought the blouse and the buttons came with it!

Don’t Walk Them to “The Boards of Confusion” to Find Their New Frames

When you walk the optical consumer to the frame boards, it almost instantly becomes overwhelming. Sometimes the consumer says: “I don’t see anything I like!” And you wonder how that’s possible. It’s called “Choice Overload,” a real human psychological dilemma. It’s just too much to take in. Simply ask what they want to change about their frames this time and then go pick them out yourself. Likely you’ll be right 99 percent of the time and you won’t disappoint them with the inevitable “That one’s too tight!” “Too loose!” “Too narrow.” “Too wide!” when they are left up to their own devices. Pick seven frames and help them purchase the three the doctor prescribed. You are the expert because you do it many times every day.

These time savers help you stay on schedule, reduce stress, capture more, and make more revenue with happier, less confused patients.

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John Marvin

There is Power in Starting

Motivation comes from taking action, not the other way around.

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CAN YOU BELIEVE it is the beginning of a new decade? We are one month in, and it already seems to be moving faster than last year. That’s the way it is with time. It seems to move at an ever-increasing speed.

I’m sure that many of you took on this new year with plans to make changes, improvements and commitments that are already behind schedule. For some, it may be the result of putting off the actions needed to begin the change. Usually, it’s due to waiting for the right motivation or circumstance to take action. Conventional wisdom says that action follows motivation. Once someone has the desire and motivation, then they take action. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Those that don’t understand this spend days, weeks, months, and even years failing to act. They wait on that perfect set of circumstances to motivate them into taking action to make the change they desire.

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It is behavior that creates motivation. The most challenging part of beginning an exercise program is lacing up your shoes. If you have not established a routine in your life where you exercise regularly, you’ll find getting dressed and lacing up your shoes to be most challenging. You’ll wait until you “feel like exercising” before you lace up your shoes. If you just make the decision, take action, lace up your shoes and take a 30-minute walk when you have no motivation, you will discover that after a short period of time, you become motivated. Motivation follows taking action.

Now think about the improvements or changes you want to make in your business. Maybe it’s a staffing change; maybe it’s reassigning responsibilities or using new technology. You will be tempted to wait until conditions are best suited for making these changes. Maybe the difficulty in going through this process is what is keeping you from taking action.

Well, let me help you with two steps to lace up your shoes:

1. Be sure you know what it is you want to do and why you want to do it. To think this through, take the time to write it down with a full description of why it will be an improvement for your business. Many times a friend or colleague tells us what they did and why they are glad they made the change. They can talk about how it made such a difference for them and their patients. However, that is not you or your business. If you are going to take on the difficulty of change, you need to know for sure that this is important to you and why it will benefit your patients.

2. Next, set a date to begin. Not to accomplish the entire task, just to start. Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker, said, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” There is power in starting. Break down the task into steps and set a schedule of achieving the steps. Don’t worry about the potential consequences, you can work the issues out as you implement the change. Using my exercise analogy, you don’t have to begin by working out for two hours, six days a week. Start with 30 minutes, three times a week. In the beginning, it is not about the amount accomplished, but only that you start doing something.

These simple actions will create the motivation and support to achieve even more. Once you begin this cycle of continual improvement through taking action, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

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Editor's Note

The “Year of Vision” Has 366 Days

So how are you going to make the most of your extra 24 hours?

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DO YOU EVER FEEL like there just isn’t enough time in the day? Or days in the week? Or weeks in the year? … Those are rhetorical questions. I know we all feel that way… on a regular basis.

We all also know a common year has 365 days. But this year, a leap year, the “year of vision” no less, we get 366 days! How cool is that? This year we literally have an extra day to get our sh*t done.

So it’s pretty appropriate that this issue’s Big Story is about doing just that. On page 34, we give you 22 ways to stop thinking and start doing in Act Now! My personal favorite, and one I plan on implementing, is #12: Don’t substitute talk for action. There are always immediate deadlines in publishing and sometimes the larger, long-term projects suffer because of them. But the “No Zero Days” concept is approachable enough that I can apply it immediately and chip away at those big tasks little by little, without letting the more pressing ones suffer.

However, if a whole extra day just doesn’t seem like enough, our Special Feature on page 42 is all about how you can steal a few minutes back out of every day. I am a big proponent of a daily to-do list — which I priority plan for the whole week on Sunday — in a Word doc so I can have the visceral joy of crossing things off (thank you strikethrough!) and the practical ability to move things that don’t get done to later in the week (hello, cut and paste!) It’s really all about finding a system that works for you and if you don’t have one yet, this story should really help.

And hey, if what you really need is to take that bonus day and do abso-freaking-lutely nothing, then do it! Rest is a valid form of self-care and if you’re not at your best, how is your business supposed to be?

So how are you going to make the most of your extra day?

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

1. Want more good news? Then here is the perfect Instagram follow for you. (Eye Spy, page 12)
2. Video is huge… but many are scared of it. We’ve got some easy tips to get you started. (Monthly Project, page 16)
3. Keep your staff happy and healthy. Implement a Wellness Reimbursement Program. (Best of the Best, page 48)
4. Just cause you’re the boss doesn’t mean you’re always right. Let a staff member win once a day. (Tip Sheet, page 50)
5. Think your biz is too small to need an official employee handbook? You’re wrong. Luckily, building a barebones one is easy. (Columns, page 56)

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