Recently I was working on revisions to one of our popular courses in the Optometric Success Center online learning library, Building the Patient Schedule Templates. This course teaches learners about patient schedules and the staffing levels necessary to efficiently make the patient schedule flow properly, along with the ability to accomplish other tasks. This has also been a common discussion with clients.
There are times that practices seem to forget how staffing levels and patient schedules go hand in hand. I like to describe this as a balance. If you load one side of a scale with patients, hence your patient schedule, don’t forget to load the opposite side of the scale with the appropriate staffing to help balance your practice out. Given today’s climate of staff shortages and the challenges with retention and hiring, it's even more imperative that this balance is not forgotten. Staffing and schedules should be referred to when planning and preparing for the month ahead. If this is slighted, you have the potential to have an overworked and stressed team, and you could lose team members easily. Even worse, your patient care will not be at the level that your patients have come to love and trust.
We refer to this as strategic staffing. Monitor your clinic hours versus your operational hours, and staff the team properly. As a best practice tip, consider not allowing more than one team member off per day. You can never predict who may feel ill and not be able to work on a given day. If you have approved multiple team members the same day off, you now leave the practice even more short staffed, and unlikely able to handle the patient schedule for the day.
ECP’s and administrators, this is a conversation that is presented during a team meeting as a group so that they all receive the same message. This message can read something like this:
"Due to the necessity of being able to service our patients and support each other, effective on any future PTO/Vacation Requests, only one team member will be approved for PTO per day unless we are down an Eye Care Provider. Approvals are on a first come first serve basis, so the earlier you are able to request time off, the better."
Practices that have worked with Williams Group and utilize the Optometric Success Center Learning Library have been able to increase staff productivity because of an emphasis on training, communication and organization. We are here to help you stay balanced, prioritize and focus on the success and long-term goals of your practice.