Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Donna Suter, president of Suter Consulting Group. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.
“The experience at Augusta National is all about controlling your misses.” That, and commentator observations about not being afraid to “drive the golf ball” allow me to develop a mental image of the winner even before the first round of play is complete.
The man who wears the coveted green jacket signifies a winner who can perform under pressure. Confidence and focus are as iconic in running a successful practice as they are in winning the Masters. It's synonymous with becoming a champion, and among the many different homilies about practice success, having a confident, purposeful execution of the basics stands as a cornerstone.
Controlling your misses
Each and every day you and your staff take a mission statement of caring for the health of your patients’ eyes. You improve vision with optical products and use your own personalities to recommend a continuum of care, along with the right spectacle or contact lens technology. As a golfer, I can tell you that a lack of confidence or nerves translates into a poorly struck ball –it just doesn’t perform IRL (in real life) as it does in my mind’s eye.
In practice management, use the phrase “It’s all about controlling your misses” as a reminder to take a holistic, tactical look at how successful practices use process improvement as their secret to practice success.
Cancellations and no-shows
It's the same in every practice: patients call with little or no warning, and suddenly your perfect day of seeing a good mix of patients turns into a nightmare. Controlling your misses (missed appointments) with confidence means everyone who picks up a ringing phone (not just the appointment scheduler) knows how to turn a no-show or cancellation into a rebook.
The patient doesn’t know your process and will seldom volunteer information about his or her availability. Use your personality to connect with patient-centered comments and your empty day will quickly rally.
Patient: “This is Donna Suter and I can’t make my tomorrow appointment with the doctor.”
Employee: “Thank you for letting us know. I hope everything is OK.”
Seeking to understand
The relationship-oriented employee who is comfortable in asking if everything is OK did not just ask for the patient’s life history. He or she is seeking to understand in order to:
- Multitask while the patient is talking and pull up the appointment scheduler.
- Book an appointment using the software’s shortcuts.
- Establish rapport with the patient and reinforce the habit of calling before missing an appointment.
Your employee now has control of the conversation ball and guides the patient back to the task at hand.
Employee: “I understand why you called. Again, Donna (or the more formal Ms. Suter) thank you for calling. It is important you take time to take care of your eyes and I can rebook that appointment for tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.”