3 Baby Steps to Practicing the Medical Model

Putting the health of his eyes firstOptometry practices today are struggling to re-invent themselves as practitioners of optometric medicine. This evolution began over a decade ago when Medicare first recognized optometrists as equal to ophthalmologists. This classification makes sense, because optometry students are educated alongside medical students. Now new laws are allowing optometrists to practice as they have been trained. However, some optometrists are having difficulty reconditioning themselves, staff, and patients to think outside of the traditional “glasses and contacts” mindset. They know they need to be mirroring medicine in how they practice, but are having trouble making the switch. Practitioners who have been in clinical practice for a long time will remember comprehensive exams that included diagnosing, managing, and treating everything in one all-inclusive exam. Today those practitioners have the difficult task of now seeing comprehensive as a full eye and health assessment with the appropriate party responsible for the visit. Beginning this transition process starts by taking several baby steps.

1. Collect vision benefit cards & medical insurance for ALL patients
When a patient schedules an appointment, your staff should already be discussing what the patient needs to be prepared for the exam. This includes both vision benefits and medical insurance information. If patients say they only want a vision exam, the staff should not argue with them, or discuss it further. However, they should still kindly request patients bring both sets of information for their files. The seeds have been planted in their minds, and that is the initial purpose.
2. Communicate in the exam room the difference between “vision” and “medical”
The next step in shifting the mindset of patients occurs during the exam. The doctor’s assistant and doctor should both be communicating in a way that differentiates vision assessment from medical assessment. For example, when the doctor’s assistant is asked what the eye pressure test is for, the assistant should immediately respond, “We check your eye pressures to look for any medical eye conditions that could negatively impact your vision now or in the future.” Alert staff and doctors can find many opportunities to communicate to patients the difference between vision assessments and medical eye assessments.
3. Lead staff to think vision AND medical eye
A shift in mindset is best caught, not taught. Just like children learn more from watching what their parents do, not listening to what they say, so too much of what your staff learns is from watching you. You can lecture to your staff all day but until they see it in action it won’t change their behavior. The staff and patients should hear you talk about vision and medical eye in two different ways. For example, when you communicate to your staff in front of the patient that you need to see the patient back in one month for a dry eye evaluation, make sure you let them know that the intermittent blurry vision today was not from a glasses prescription problem but from dry eye, which is a medical eye problem. Don’t be afraid to say to your staff, “We will need to make sure Mrs. Smith’s medical insurance is on file as the next visit is medical.” This reinforces to the patient that not only do you offer vision care, but medical eye care as well. This also helps the staff not to have to introduce this to the patient.

To be successful with most things in life, you must have a plan and be intentional about executing the plan. This is no different. You cannot walk into the office and immediately start making the above changes, but you can begin to discuss these changes with your patients and staff. You have intentionally or unintentionally trained your patients and staff to think and act a certain way. Your future success as the CEO of the optometry business and as an optometrist will depend on your ability to successfully make this transition.

Mirroring: Why some Associate ODs get pay increases and others do not.

When new optometrists begin practice they are often so happy with the security of an associate position they simply accept the compensation offered. However, many are underpaid. A good associate OD can bring the practice a lot of money. The smart new optometrists know their potential and take the risk to discuss compensation.

Maybe you are a new optometrist and want to have the feared compensation conversation, but you are unsure how to go about it. Some people seem to automatically make a social connection, so they breeze through interviews and compensation conversations without breaking a sweat. Although there are many reasons why some people excel socially, one important one is they know that most of the connection is subconscious. The good news is anyone can take steps to gain trust from an employer.

two business women at the meetingMirroring is the seasoned communicator’s secret weapon. Successful sales representatives use it so skillfully that it is undetected by others. Mirroring is the art of connecting your unconscious mind with the unconscious mind of another. Here’s how it can work with your employing optometrist:

 

In discussions with your employer, don’t try to win him or her over with your strong personal presence and eager enthusiasm. Instead, allow the owner/doctor to do most of the initial talking. As the conversation progresses, gradually begin to imitate your employer’s posture and body position. Follow the owner/doctor’s movements slowly and subtly, making sure you are a couple of seconds behind his or her lead. Be careful–if you are too fast or rigid he or she will notice and feel mocked, not mirrored. Once you have established the physical mirroring, begin to mirror his or her mood. After you have mirrored the owner/doctor for a while, transition to you taking the lead physically and emotionally.  When you notice the owner/doctor mirroring you, you have successfully established trust.

 

Alex `Sandy’ Pentland, a professor at MIT, says that in the above scenario, an associate will likely receive a 33 percent compensation increase by successfully mirroring the employer. In salary negotiations, understanding social behavior pays.

5 marketing strategies to keep your optometry practice schedule full

LoudspeakersThe biggest marketing mistake most optometrists make is waiting until the practice schedule slows down to start advertising. Proactive marketing gives the greatest return on an investment. Successful practices market when things are good so that three to six months later when other optometrists experience a slowdown, their schedules will still be full.
In the past, satisfied patients would tell their friends by word-of-mouth. With today’s technology and social media, that same information is transmitted by clicking “Like” on Facebook, sending a “re-tweet,” or clicking a link. This “word of click” has the potential to quickly extend far beyond a two-person conversation. Strong marketing strategies use “word of click” as a foundation with other supporting strategies. Here are five marketing strategies that will bring more patients into your office.

  1. “Word of Click” – This is the most reliable and most successful means of generating new patients to your office. “Word of click” incorporates a social media plan that allows current patients to make online recommendations to future patients. This social media approach is successful when the internal experience patients have is exceptional, so pay close attention to staff training and patient care.
  2. Optometry Website CompanyiMatrix website company for optometry is currently the best company for generating new patients through the web. Our office has used this company for over a year. We recently upgraded our service plan to include the media package because we calculated the return on our investment has more than paid for itself. As an owner of our practice, I find it extremely important to continue to keep the associate ODs busy.
  3. EDDMEvery Door Direct Mailing (EDDM) is a service provided by the U.S. Postal Service. To send a mailing, sign in and choose your target zip code(s). A cover sheet is generated that is then put on the stack of postcards that need to be delivered. Our most recent EDDM included 1700 residential homes and cost about $0.17 per mailing. A sample postcard image (front and back) is included in this post for your review.
  4. Tangibles – This includes all the handouts that patients receive during their visit. Customizing handouts for acute care or diabetes eye exams is not difficult. A tri-fold brochure with your logo and details of your practice can be created in Photoshop by one of your associates or staff members. If you do not have anyone skilled in creating this, use a marketing company. Our practice saves thousands of dollars each year by creating our own tangibles and then using Vistaprint.com and GotPrint.com for printing.
  5. In-Office Communication – An important job of each doctor is communicating to patients the services your office offers. For instance, if you want patients to call when emergency eye problems arise, for a closing remark say, “As a patient of ours, you have access to our acute eye care services. We are available during office hours and in the evenings and on weekends for eye problems that you may encounter.” Training your patients to think about where to go for all their eye problems takes time and effort, but the result is practice growth for you and your associates.
Investing in marketing sometimes is tough for the optometrist CEO who doesn’t always see a direct benefit. However, today’s practice management software allows staff to track how patients found your office, making it easier to determine the effectiveness of your various marketing tools. Marketing is an essential part to a growing optometry practice’s success.

Turn Website Visitors into New Patients

PPCOnline paid ads, also known as pay-per-click or PPC, are the most efficient way to drive more traffic to your optometry website. However, how do you convert these web visitors into new patients? The answer is a custom, PPC landing page. Here, we will examine five ways you can create a blockbuster PPC landing page that gets results.

1. Make It Quick and Easy

In our fast-paced world, consumers don’t have time to read lengthy web pages when they are looking for information. Make your landing page easy to read and skim for information. Both design and text are major contributors to the user’s experience.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for feedback on your landing page. They often have great consumer insights.

2. Have an Outstanding Offer

Sweeten the deal with an outstanding offer. Only offering $5 off an eye exam will not get you a bunch of new patients. However, the offer shouldn’t put you out of business. An outstanding offer is somewhere in between and meets the needs of the consumer while not devaluing your product or service.

3. Include Trust Elements

By including a trust element on your landing page, you are proving to website visitors that your optometry services are legitimate, reliable, and helpful. Trust elements include accreditations, patient reviews, awards, etc. Don’t overdo it with trust elements. Select a few trust elements which are most important to your patients.

4. Mobile-Friendly Design

Mobile browsing is going to surpass desktop browsing in the next year. This means that all of your optometry website pages need to be mobile-friendly. Your PPC landing pages also need to be optimized for mobile users.

Tip: Include your optometry practice’s telephone number in the text of your landing page since it will be click-to-call on all smart phones.

5. A/B Testing

A/B Testing simply means testing version A of a landing page against version B of a landing to learn which version has the best performance. The variations between versions A and B should be minor and limited. For example, try different images or different calls-to-action on the pages to see which has more conversions. Testing is a continuous activity. Creating an effective landing page that turns visitors into new business may not happen on the first try, but these tips will set the right foundation. To run a successful PPC ad campaign, be sure to review your PPC ad campaign analytics to ensure you can adjust your landing page design as necessary.

RachelRachel Cunningham is a Marketing Content Writer at iMatrix, a provider of affordable web marketing solutions for small, practice based businesses. She earned a Master of Arts degree in English from CSU Long Beach and a Bachelor of Science from Boston College in General Management. Rachel is experienced in writing content optimized for search engines and users, creating engaging content for social media, and crafting articles about SEO and social media marketing for small businesses.

The Optometry Business Plan Organization Chart

Being the CEO of your company requires you to be a visionary. Visionaries plan for the future with a logical understanding of where their business is now and where they want it to go. If you are not a visionary, find an optometrist with this gift and make an appointment to visit with him or her about your practice. A visionary will ask the right questions to stir your thinking about what your future practice looks like. When many optometrists plan their practices they make the mistake of planning small.

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

Instead, aim for a high target. To increase your chances of hitting the bullseye, make sure you have that target clearly in focus.

Below is a sample organizational chart that can begin the process of transforming your one-man or one-woman operation into a large, streamlined, and successful practice that employs four or more doctors.
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Taking the time to put together an organization chart is the beginning of planning big. If you do not have a vision of a bigger future, you may find yourself frustrated from slow growth, lack of staff motivation, and a flailing business.

The business plan’s Executive Summary provides a glimpse of who you are

An often-overlooked, yet critical aspect of a great business is having a clear vision and purpose-filled mission for that business. In his book, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” leadership expert Simon Sinek stresses the importance of knowing why you do what you do. Any optometrist looking to build the foundation for a successful practice should read this powerful and penetrating book. A vision statement brings focus to the team and helps you lead your staff to your destination. In contrast, a mission statement describes what you are committed to during the journey of caring for patients.

Our mission is to serve our patients with excellence, by providing the highest standard in visual and ocular health care. We will also strive to provide professional service and quality eyewear, based upon core values, in a welcoming,  attentive, and caring manner. By providing this excellent service we hope that all of our patients will be happy and able to see with the best vision possible.

Metal telescope focus
In the Executive Summary you will also want to provide a summary of the company as it stands today. In this paragraph, highlight the eye care that has been provided by the practice you are purchasing. If you are starting a practice, define the need for a new practice in the proposed area and how your practice will fulfill that need.
Once you have summarized the practice as it is today, cast vision for what it will be tomorrow and why you will be successful. Again, this all builds off of the vision of your destination and the mission of how you will get there.