High Touch, High Tech, High Priority

In the third part of the Cold Start Series, Dr. Stewart shares her mindset behind adopting the latest technology into her new practice.
Photo Credit: Digital Vision, Getty Images

Part of my vision in developing my cold start practice, Look New Canaan, was to provide patients with an incredible experience and wow them with the latest technology. This is even part of our practice vision statement: “Our vision is to transform patients’ lives through customized care, innovative technology, and exceptional eyewear.”

I thought about technology not only from my staff’s and my perspective, but also as a patient. When I’m the patient, what is important to me? What stands out from appointments I have been to, both good and bad? What could I incorporate in a practice to make an experience efficient, effective, and high touch from all perspectives?

Start with A Website
To start, a website was a must. I’m still surprised how many practices don’t have a website! Or, if they do, it’s generic, out of date, and uninspiring. I spent a lot of time looking at practice websites and making lists of what I liked and didn’t like. I made mine unique and something that reflected my practice and personal style. Also, don’t make it hard for people to do business with you. Have your contact information easily accessible. Nothing is more frustrating for patients than having to search.

Also a must for me? The option to have patients schedule themselves through the website. As a patient, this is something I look for when choosing a provider, and feedback from our patients is that they LOVE this feature. I also prefer the option for the patient to actually schedule themselves, not request an appointment. A question I get about this often is: What if they schedule in the wrong spot? Or, offices like to have control over where patients are booked. For me, in a cold start, I’m doing anything I can to be different and stand out, and this has been a huge practice builder already. As I write this, my 8:30am patient today (a Monday) booked last night because her glasses broke. The first thing she said to me? “I LOVE your online scheduling option!” She ended up purchasing two pairs of glasses and ordering contacts all from the ability to quickly schedule herself.

Think About Your Office Design
Something I was adamant about in our office design was NOT having phones in the front of our studio.  Nothing is more off putting than a patient walking in and a receptionist being on hold, and that patient having to wait. With our focus on retail and walk-in traffic, this was especially important to me. 

We designed our space to have all the phones in the back. Problem solved! We have a back business office with three phones, and two phones in the labs for the opticians to use. We have considered hiring a remote team member to answer phones if needed. However, what we have found is that most patients prefer to use our text option through Weave. The phone rings a handful of times a day, but we spend most of our time responding to patients through Weave on our computers. This allows us to respond quickly and have a record of what was said to the patient. We have found that people prefer texting as opposed to phone or even email. We send confirmations and invoices through text, and we even let patients pay through text messages. It’s easy to ignore an email, but it’s hard to ignore a text.

What Did I Add to Look New Canaan?
On the patient side, I knew I wanted the exam to be a combination of high touch/high tech but also superefficient and effective. I wanted the “wow” factor in the consult rooms and pretest rooms, and I invested heavily in what I considered the best. 

In our pre-test room, we added an instrument that is a tonometer, keratometer, and autorefractor all in one. It is space and time saving in that the patient doesn’t have to move for the measurements, and it fully integrates with my consult room technology. We also added an auto lensometer that does the same. To round out the high-tech experience, we added an OCT for iWellness screenings and medical care, and a wide-field digital retinal camera.

I outfitted two consult rooms with digital refractive technology. These fully automated lanes fully integrate with my pretest equipment, which is both time saving and eliminates transcription error. I had never used a digital phoropter, but after some practice, I can’t imagine life without it. My rep helped me pre-program a refraction sequence which also saves time. My favorite part of the digital phoropter? The “money button.” I can easily toggle between the patient’s previous prescription and my new prescription and show them the difference. This has been amazing for my optical sales and much easier than trying to change the lenses in a manual phoropter.

All the information collected in the exam and pre-test (IOP, autorefraction, keratometry, lensometry, and refraction) also imports directly into my EHR. This is again an amazing efficiency and eliminates transcription error. In our paperless office, this prescription is then sent to the optical, where my optician pulls up the prescription on her laptop.

Practice Growth
How has this focus on technology helped our practice grow? I tell each and every patient how amazing the equipment we have is. No patient knows that all their information digitally follows them throughout the office, so I tell them. Just as I have my technician tell each patient what we are doing when we perform a test on them, I like to describe the technology to our patients so they are also wowed.

When cold starting, the biggest area of spend is equipment. When deciding what to invest in, I kept going back to my vision statement. Did the technology help us transform patients lives? Did it help us be innovative and exceptional? Investing in technology that helped me build my authentic practice has been incredibly rewarding, both in my satisfaction and the patient experience.  

Catch Up on Dr. Jennifer Stewart’s Cold Start Series:

Stay tuned for more articles in Dr. Stewart’s Cold Start Series!

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