As we start to plan for the new year, staff training is at the forefront of many eye care professionals’ minds. However, the myriad options for staff training can seem daunting, and ensuring that staff members actually take something away from the training time can seem like an obstacle. After working in private practice clinics for over a decade, these are some of the most effective methods of staff training that I’ve encountered.
- Schedule An Appointment
How long has it been, if ever, that you and all of your staff have had a FULL eye exam from start to finish? The WHOLE process. Beginning at scheduling the exam online or by phone, then checking in, getting the same thorough work-up you would give a patient (without giving staff short-cuts), maybe some extra specialty testing, a full fundus exam and refraction, then closing out with a hand-off to optical.
The firsthand experience that this process gives each staff member will provide a patient-perspective view of the entire visit — they will not only be able to explain things about the process for patients, it will afford them the opportunity to see each team member’s role and responsibility, as well as better understand the patient’s journey.
- Rely on Industry Representatives for Support
This isn’t about the dedicated reps who regularly stop into offices. It’s about all of the representatives in the industry — all of the software, instrumentation, and products that your office uses or sells to a patient. Using or selling a company’s product or service includes receiving the assistance and training needed, for all staff members, to be able to effectively use said product or service. This no longer entails scheduling a cram session during your lunch block or attempting to get help from a chat bot — representatives can remote into your workstation and walk you through a task, give you a live demo via zoom, provide equipment-specific training videos, and of course, provide support by phone.
These are some common role-specific areas where vendor representatives can provide training to help staff become more comfortable and efficient while performing their duties:
-EHR features and efficiencies
-Spectacle billing and submission
- Train Using a Case-By-Case Basis
A teaching method that played a significant role in piquing my interest in eye care was hearing specific examples about our practice’s patients. In each weekly staff meeting, the OD owner had selected an example of a patient that had come in within the past week and walked us through all areas of the chart from that visit — from patient demographic entry, to the pretesting workup, all the way to the spectacle order. The OD pointed out all the things that various staff members had done well that made their job easier and ultimately gave the patient a better experience. For example, the front desk entering the patient’s job title and employer not only clued the doctor that they may be experiencing digital eye strain, but that information also hinted to the optician that they could benefit from occupational glasses. The technician reviewed the previous visit so well they had performed all of the scans necessary before the doctor needed to ask for them.
These teaching moments were never to point out mistakes and were always complimentary. The staff knew their good work was appreciated, each employee learned a bit about others’ roles, and it boosted morale and left everyone genuinely wanting to provide the best care for each patient.
- Access Training Resources from Professional Relationships
Aside from vendor representatives, many companies that you may already have professional affiliations with offer a plethora of educational resources for eye care professionals to take advantage of.
The VSP Provider Hub training and education platform provides an ever-evolving variety of on-demand content. Some of the current offerings include topics on hiring right the first time, checking eligibility and obtaining authorizations, practice branding, helping kids in need with no-cost eye exams, and ABO, NCLE, and COPE CE credits.
Some doctor alliances provide full-scope practice support and training materials. PECAA, for example, offers on-demand training for new employees, ophthalmic assistants, opticians, administrative staff, and doctors. This particular alliance has also been increasing its staff-level certifications and now offers accredited courses in billing and coding, office management, and optical management.
The Essentials Programs by Leonardo offers three role-specific courses: the Eye Care Dispenser Essentials Program, the Practice Manager Essentials Program, and the Front Desk Essentials Program. The programs are self-led and allow the learner to be autonomous in the onboarding process. Practice owners can monitor the progress of their teams.
- Continuing Education for No Credit
CE courses are not just for experienced and credentialed eye care professionals. Many online and print continuing education providers publish educational materials and only ask for payment when it comes time to take the quiz to gain the documented hour(s) of completion, making the actual learning no cost. Courses cover a wide variety of topics and often teach a unique and specific skill set. Some of the current learnings from 20/20 include: Easy Steps to More Eye Care, Eyewear, and Patient Satisfaction; Welcoming Patients to Presbyopia; Eyeglasses — Fit and Dispensing Guide, and there are plenty of options about blue light, photochromic, and anti-glare treatments.
Whether you’re onboarding a new staff member or your tenured staff needs to brush up on their skills, consider every avenue from which training might be obtained. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a sales rep, an account manager, or even an 800 number.