As a practitioner who has created two technology-based solutions to help other ODs streamline their office processes and boost their bottom lines, I incorporate technology as a huge part of my practice. Getting my team involved and engaged with new devices, equipment, and software is equally important.
I co-founded Dr. Contact Lens, a marketing and ordering software for practitioners to market and sell contact lenses to their patients, in 2017. During the design phase, we were looking at the practice from two different angles: the toys we get to play with (visual fields, OCTs, A scans — all that we use for patient care) and the other technology that helps run the practice. In other words, it’s front-of-house technology versus back-of-house technology. The front-of-house allows you to invest in the back-of-house and shouldn’t be separate things.
One of the core values in my practice is change. If you’re not changing and moving forward, you’re going backwards and declining. We always want to be elevating our practice alongside the patient experience, and technology has played a large role in being able to do that.
Where Can You Digitize?
In my office, I’m able to engage my team with technology by creating efficiencies. As humans, we don’t like to do mundane tasks. If you’ve never sat at the front desk in your own practice, I’d encourage you to do it for 30 minutes and see how you feel with the phones ringing, making appointments, filling out forms, etc. If you were to digitize these tasks, it makes your team’s experience smoother, not to mention is a wow factor for your patients. (Who likes to fill out forms that have been copied 1,000 times?)
In our society, we’ve digitized everything from how we order food and coffee to how we engage with businesses. There’s no difference in how patients or consumers want to engage with your eye care business. Digitize forms, digitize appointments, digitize anything that will reduce phone calls because people don’t want to make phone calls anymore. We are missing, on average, 30% of the phone calls that come into our practice.
I also ask my staff questions. I rely on their feedback to know what they love about their jobs, what they want to change about their jobs, and what they do and don’t like doing. Their answers give us ideas of where to innovate in our practice. If they all don’t like something, that’s an area for innovation.
Employees Will Follow Your Lead
Another important component of consistently incorporating new technology is your leadership style. I always lead in a way that shows I’m open to change. If I’m reserved, don’t want to change, and act grumpy, that’s how the staff will be. But if I’m excited to come in, seize the day, break something and build it back up, that’s how they’re going to be. That’s the type of team member I’m going to attract and retain — and they want to stay. I’ve asked my team what they like about working at our practice, and the most common answer I get is that there is always something new. Maybe they didn’t like it in the beginning, but now they do because we lead by example. People will surprise you if you let them after you guide them to put in the effort to make it better and improve themselves.
You don’t have to have all the answers. That’s where you really take on that leadership role. I recently heard a great quote from Dr. David Schwirtz at a conference, “We need to go from human doings to human beings.” We often focus on finishing checklist after checklist, just doing, doing, doing. We need to transition to human beings. When we do that, your team is a true team, and your patients feel that. This allows you to keep investing in your practice, and your patients will then keep investing in you.
Invest in Your Practice
In my office, we divide the year into quarters, and then into months, to determine what we want to change or update. We focus on just one thing each month so we’re not changing everything at once. It’s a step-by-step approach, and we keep chipping away. Since we’ve started doing this, we’ve doubled our practice’s revenue by only adding two more team members — bringing in a great associate doctor and one more team member, alongside automating things with technology has made this all possible.
Don’t get paralyzed by decision-making. As practitioners and business owners, we’re often scared to make the wrong decision, and we focus heavily on the cost of those decisions. I’ve found there are two ways to look at money — as a cost or as an investment. If you look at everything from a cost standpoint, you won’t ever make the move. If you flip it, and consider money as an investment, that changes everything. It allows you to live in a different mindset.
The benefits that come from technology are endless — less phone time for your team and patients, more patient-facing engagement, and a happier and more engaged team. We all want human connections. If you’re staring at your computer entering the same things in this database and that database, then you can’t look at somebody in their eyes. We have so much technology available at our fingertips; we just need to leverage it properly and say yes!