Ophthalmology Business

SEP 2018

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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September 2018 • Ophthalmology Business 13 ophthalmology your practice • Gestures of respect: Many of the patients in ophthalmology prac- tices are elderly and older than the doctor, so use a formal name until invited to use a first name. Ask permission to enter the patient's personal space before performing an exam or test. Mr. Cole provided a short list as well: • Look to see what your bottlenecks are. Where are wait times happen- ing? Get phone hold times down and reduce office wait times. Figure out who internally is going to help champion this change. • Get an outside perspective. A third-party consultant or advisor can provide an objective view of changes that might need to be made. • Over communicate with your pa- tients. If you know you're running behind schedule, call patients to tell them they can come in later, or go up to them in the waiting room and explain what's going on. Patients will give you permission to use more of their time if you ask them for it and communicate respectfully. OB Reference 1. Ramsey DJ, et al. Measuring patient loyalty in ophthalmology: A nationally representative study. Ophthalmology. 2018;125:1124–1126. Editors' note: The sources have no finan- cial interests related to their comments. Contact information Baird: kris@baird-group.com Cole: troy@troycole.com Ramsey: Ramsey@post.harvard.edu Monitor how your team members interact." Mr. Cole agreed, saying that while patients might not think at the time of taking a survey that staff interaction, phone experience, and wait times are important, "When there are issues with those, they are important," he said. "When you have a 5-minute hold time on the phone, that jumps to the top of a patient's this-is-caus- ing-me-dissatisfaction list. When they're waiting an hour in the office every visit, that becomes important to the patient very quickly," Mr. Cole continued. "It's an area where we spend time determining every team member's role with the patient— what that needs to look like and how each person can contribute to the overall patient experience. Every person in the office who touches the patient can either help move them a step closer toward booking a proce- dure, or they can detract from it." Ms. Baird encouraged doctors to focus on four best practice areas: • Engagement: Engage with patients at the outset of the encounter to forge a relationship and establish trust. • Empathy: Demonstrate empathy in both verbal and non-verbal communication. Remember that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. • Communication: Speak clearly and use words that the patient will understand. Validate understand- ing using a teach-back method. Summarize the key elements of the visit and discuss next steps with the patient prior to wrapping up. Provide a printed summary to take home. mean you shouldn't try," Dr. Ramsey said, noting that ways to boost this could include taking a seminar on active listening. While the survey doesn't give specific action items for physicians or practices to try to improve patient loyalty, Dr. Ramsey said its takeaways "allow you to think further into pro- fessional development." The first thing to do is survey your patient population, if you hav- en't done so already. The importance of patient feedback in care is increas- ing, and Dr. Ramsey suspects it may someday be tied to reimbursement. "These metrics are imperfect if you're looking at clinical quality … but in terms of other things that go into providing trust, that goes into providing longitudinal care, which is no doubt related to outcomes and quality," he said. "Whether it affects reimbursement or not, it doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. It's import- ant to the patient and therefore is important to us." While the results of this sur- vey showed that the doctor-patient relationship is paramount to other patient satisfaction factors, Ms. Baird said doctors should make an effort to avoid "initial negative encoun- ters [that] will place the physician encounter at a disadvantage." "… patients who have difficulty scheduling or encounter unhelpful or insensitive staff or long wait times will be irritated and unhappy long before they come into contact with the doctor," Ms. Baird said. "Make sure every touch point is consistent with the doctor's standards," she continued. "Know what happens on the phone when a patient tries to schedule. Know what goes on in the waiting room.

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