Imagine you are a brand new employee and you answer the phone in the office. After a rehearsed, professional, and pleasant greeting, you ask, "how may I help you this morning?" 

A young man answers, "I have to get in to see someone today!" His voice is shaky and he sounds like he is in pain. As a new employee, you can feel your heart rate going up and you are sitting up straighter, questioning what do I do now? 

  1. Be calm– Think emergency dispatcher. No matter how dire the situation, your job requires clearheaded thinking and compassionate communication. 
  2. Initiate your triage strategy - Pull up the form and begin asking the questions. Start with their name and the best contact number, then work your way methodically down the question list. 
  3. Offer just in time care - What if it turns out that the dire situation is that the young man is leaving on a weeklong heli-skiing trip tomorrow and he just realized he is out of daily contact lenses? In our opinion, the best way to ensure that your optometric business continues to succeed is to always accommodate a patients request just in time. Sure, the young man might need to be strategically scheduled later in the day if his prescription has expired, since this is hardly a medical emergency. Still, it's a valid emergency to him. Honor that feeling and work him in. Make him feel like he is a priority to you. If you don’t, he'll likely take his business elsewhere.

Triage is one of the most stressful responsibilities in medical reception. Make sure all of your employees, new and established, are clear on your scheduling philosophy (just in time or otherwise), and have the most effective tools at their fingertips to handle those calls. This will go a long way in helping your team feel confident in how they handle the patient on the other end of the line. 

Plan of action:  

  • In your next staff meeting, review your phone triage procedures and tools (10 minutes) 
  • Divide up into pairs and role play triage calls (15 minutes) 
  • Debrief as a team to answer any questions and consider any ideas that arise during the role play  

Get help with implementing a just in time philosophy in your office today! Join our Executive Management Program.

Bess Ogden

Director of Education and Training
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One of my favorite songs is “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. A lovely day in optometry is one in which every templated appointment on your schedule has been used by a well-cared for patient. In this world of pandemics, traffic, homeschooling, after-school activities, meetings, services, and at times overwhelming busy-ness, your patients will no-show, cancel, and reschedule. It’s always been a challenge to the practice and Covid-19 has made it harder than ever to control. Don’t blame your patients! You know exactly how they feel on those not so lovely days.

If there were ever a time to have a carefully crafted, consistently kept Patient Courtesy List, THIS IS THAT TIME. You are providing a courtesy to your patients, and this strategic tool can make or break your business. Your entire team must know how to professionally gather the relevant information while scheduling. It’s not hard, but it takes intent: ”At times Dr. Jo has a change in her schedule. If this happens may we contact you to offer you an earlier appointment? About how much notice would you need to get to the office? 20 minutes? An hour?” This information must be logged accurately and made available to everyone on the team at a minute’s notice.

When an opening in the schedule occurs, the whole crew must be poised to leap into action, implementing your sliding schedule strategies to fill that opening as soon as possible. Your primary receptionist or Patient Care Facilitator will lead the charge and will call in the rest of the troops, if assistance is needed. Be ready.

Give yourself a safety net that you can employ if you just can’t fill those open slots before they pass by. The safety net can take many forms, from opening up lunch slots, to later night slots, to unblocking an admin Friday afternoon. Keep in mind the purpose of a safety net: It’s only there in case you fall/fail. If you are all using your Courtesy Lists and Sliding Schedule procedures well, you’ll rarely need to use it. You’ll be glad you have it, though, when you need to use it!

Here’s to fewer lost days, and more lovely days ahead.

Let us help you implement a carefully crafted, consistent Patient Courtesy List within your practice. 

Join our Executive Management Program today!

Bess Ogden

Director of Education and Training
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Good. Better. Best. When you are considering which brand of canned corn to buy, they probably all are good. But frozen corn is better. And, the best? That’s straight off the corn cob, in my opinion!

Where does your practice stand; good, better or best? Do you know what your patients are looking for? Is it a good eye exam, the cheapest frames, or do they want the best? When it comes to setting the tone of your practice, your entire team is responsible. Your team has the power to influence the best eye care experience at a price point no one can refuse. By spending as little as 3 minutes on the phone with a potential patient, you can achieve this.

Williams Group has curated scripts that answer the most common questions a potential patient asks when shopping around for an eye care appointment. The education your team provides on the phone showcases the atmosphere, technology and expertise living in your practice right now. It can also mean the difference between the caller hanging up and dialing the next eye care professional three blocks away or securing their appointment, even an appointment for their family members.

Do you thrive on treating the whole patient and offer nutraceuticals? Do you have frame stylists that understand face shape and hair/eye color to pick out the latest Gucci frame everyone is craving? Maybe serving kids is where you really shine (did we mention that awesome coffee bar you’ve got for mom while she’s waiting?) These niches are important to showcase for your potential patients.

Through strategic tactics and exercises, Williams Group will evaluate how your practice stacks up. With guidance from our Practice Management Directors, your practice will set the bar for your competition. In conjunction, you’ll watch your profits grow.

As an eye care professional, it’s important to have someone on your side to objectively see your long-term goals and drive the performance of your optometry practice.

Join our Intensive Growth Program today!

Michele Korth

Practice Management Coordinator
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Providing exceptional customer satisfaction is a huge aspect in nearly every organization. Excelling in 5 STAR patient care takes it a step further to ensure we are treating and caring for our patients on another level while still providing exceptional customer satisfaction. We encourage our clients to consistently provide satisfying, timely, attainable, and result-driven care with each and every patient that walks through the doors of the practice. 

Understanding the patient care cycle within the optometry practice is an important factor in ensuring that we help guide our practice in the right direction for success. By understanding the patient care cycle, we are able to better enhance our patient experience and ensure that we are providing 5 STAR care, for every patient.  

Look at the practice from a different perspective - walk into the practice with the eyes of a patient to evaluate the processes and procedures. We must take a moment with our team to identify and review each stage of the patient care cycle within the practice and take time to evaluate the processes and procedures - identify possible flaws and potential opportunities. Not only do you have to identify possible flaws and potential opportunities - you must act to improve or enhance the patient care cycle in your practice based on your findings.  

Providing 5 STAR patient care is certainly a team approach - it only takes one person throughout the entire patient care cycle to negatively affect the patient's experience. As the optometrist and owner of the practice, express your expectations to the team and consistently speak to the importance of providing 5 STAR patient care. After all, without patients, nothing else matters.

Want to know more about Excelling in 5 Star Patient Care? Join our Executive Management Program.

Already a member? Access our course, Excelling in 5 Star Patient Care, to learn more.


Michelle Bogeart

Executive Management Coach
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