Customer Service

Taking Charge in the Exam Lane


Managing encounters with patients is both an art and a skill.  Either you run the encounter or the encounter will run you.  This is frequently one of the most difficult skills for new technicians to master. Conflicting Goals?

It seems we have competing interests: On one hand,;we strive to provide a welcoming and friendly demeanor, yet there are real time constraints dictated by appointment templates. Is this a no win situation?    I have found there are ways to satisfy both customer service and time constraints.

How to Manage Your Encounter with Finesse

Have you ever worked up a patient who wanted to engage in seemingly endless social conversations? What about the patient who won't stop joking around?  A simple yet effective way to get your encounter back on track without offending the patient is to say "Mrs. Smith, the doctor is probably wondering where you are. Let's get finished up so we can get you in to see him."  This is TRUE! The doctor probably IS wondering where your patient is. He is probably standing in the back hall looking at his schedule and wondering why he has yet to see Mrs. Smith whose short follow up appointment was 45 minutes ago!  The statement will not offend your patient; if anything, it may flatter them... ("Dr. Jones is looking for me and wondering where I am!").  I have used this technique many times over the years and it has worked without fail.

If you don't manage your encounter, it will manage YOU.  Take charge (but in a nice way).

Your Role in Patient Satisfaction

download Your job security is directly related to your practice's success and your practice's success is directly related to patient satisfaction. Therefore, your job security is related to your patients' satisfaction. 

How can you contribute to patient satisfaction?

Efficiency  No one enjoys waiting.  A study done recently found that patient satisfaction correlates with wait time. The study found "Minimizing the time patients spend waiting to see a provider can result in higher overall patient satisfaction scores" *

Go the Extra Mile Give patients more than they expect. For instance, if it's pouring rain outside and a patient doesn't have an umbrella, offer to walk them to their car with an office umbrella.  It's the little things that mean a lot.

Use Positive Language  Instead of saying "I don't know" say "I'll find out".  Instead of "I can't do that - it's against our policy" say "Here's what I CAN do for you..."  

Be "On Stage"  You're at a work place, not a social occasion. When you are anywhere a patient can see or hear you be 'on stage". This means you have a professional demeanor and keep conversations and actions patient centered. When you're "off stage" (out of patient's hearing or sight) it's okay to let your hair down.

Avoid Calling Patients Pet Names like "honey" "dear" or "sweetie".  Some patients may be offended or feel patronized by these names. Terms of endearment should be reserved for close friends and family, not patients.

Work as a Team Avoid gossip and conflict with coworkers.  When everyone works together and pitches in to help each other out for the common goal of patient satisfaction work is seamless and both job satisfaction and patient satisfaction soars! It's a beautiful thing when everyone works as a team toward a common goal.


Efficiency Tips for Ophthalmic Technicians

download (1)I know.... I know... you're sick of hearing about the need for increased efficiency.  But keep reading. 'Efficiency' is not a four letter word.  Efficiency makes your work EASIER. Yep - you heard me right. When you work efficiently you're working smarter not harder. I was at the McDonald's drive through the other day. I got an unsweetened iced tea (I do love some Mickey D's iced tea). I asked the lady at the drive through for Splenda then I watched while she walked all the way over to the far side of the counter where the ice cream machine was to get Splenda.  Now, I'm pretty sure I'm not the first person who ever asked for Splenda at the drive through but why didn't anyone think to stock the drive through window with Splenda? Putting Splenda at the drive through window is more efficient... and creates less work for employees,

1. Keep your exam lane stocked. Having to retrieve items all day long is a real drag and makes you work harder.

2. Keep the following in your pocket:  *  Post it notes and pens  You can never have too many post it notes available   * A retractable measuring tape if you do refractions, measure convergence or accommodation. * a pupil gauge  *  a pen light  * a copy of the days' schedule  to keep you in the loop

3. Do away with the "Box 'o Bulbs" so many of us have in our office.  You know that box: it has bulbs, batteries and fuses in it. You never can find what you need, it's easy to take the last one and not know it and it's difficult to know what you need to re-order.  Here's how: Buy a bulb, battery and fuse for every instrument you have that needs one. Tape it (in its box or wrapper so you have the reorder number) to the instrument out of sight of the patient (such as underneath the slit lamp table or on the side of the projector that's toward the wall). When your bulb burns out, you'll have a bulb at your fingertips. When you take the new  bulb leave the box taped to the instrument. Once a month walk through the office and look for empty bulb, battery and fuse boxes. Remove them, noting on the empty box which room and equipment it goes to. Reorder from the product numbers on the package and re-tape each bulb to its instrument when the new bulb comes in. No paperwork - no muss, no fuss!

4. How to politely cut short a 'talker'.  "Mrs. Jones,  the doctor is probably wondering where you are. Let's get you finished up so we can get you in to see the doctor."

Can you think of some other efficiency tips? If so, share below in 'comments'.

Happy Tech-ing!


Steak on a Hot Dog Budget

Patients' expectations remain high even as insurance reimbursements fall.  The Medicare allowable for cataract surgery with an IOL has dropped from nearly $1,400 in 1993 ($2,312 in today's money taking inflation into account* ) to approx. $590 in 2015 and during this time, the costs of running a medical practice have risen dramatically.  Our patients want steak but we have a hot dog budget. imagesThis creates an environment in which productivity must increase without compromising patient care and the patient experience. Here's how you can provide your patients a "Steak Experience":

1. Continually develop your skills.  The more skilled and knowledgeable you are, the more efficient and competent you will be. The more productive you are, the more successful you and your practice will be.

2. Work as a team. Help colleagues when possible to process patients and minimize patient waits.

3.  See the "big picture".  Money is how we as a society measure output, but money should not be your main goal. Make patient care your primary goal and financial success the cherry on top.

4. Seek ways to help your practice minimize waste and increase profitability.  If you have a cost saving idea, pass it along to your supervisor.

5. Maintain a cheerful, helpful attitude - especially around patients. If you're stressed or worried, don't share it with your patient. Each patient should feel they are your sole focus. Give them the attention and expertise you would want if you were in the patient chair.