Practice Management: Critical Elements of Success for Your Ophthalmology Practice

Practice Management:  Critical Elements of Success for Your Ophthalmology Practice

Over the years of working with hundreds of successful ophthalmology practices, we have had an excellent opportunity to compile the formula of success for a well-managed medical and surgical practice in today’s ever-changing environment. All successful physician practices have a clear vision of their reason for existence and they should be communicating those expectations to every member of their organization. This can be referred to as the corporate culture or the core values of the company that clearly defines the values and preferred expectations of behavior. Successful organizations match their existing and newly hired personnel to the needs and expectations of the business. They provide staff members with the freedom and flexibility to promote the core purpose of the company’s existence without hesitation. We have seen many ophthalmology practices that do an excellent job of providing staff members with the “rule book of conduct” as well as provide support to the staff in carrying out the mission of the organization. Companies that do this well provide their staff members with the necessary tools, training and resources to do their daily work activities. The clear distinction is that management sets the standard and they will not allow a staff member to remain on their team (after counseling) if their work behaviors do not emulate the core values of the company.

Once an ophthalmology or any other physician practice has laid the groundwork for its purpose or mission, it is important for the organization to ensure that every aspect of it product line is being provided at the highest level of quality possible. In a medical practice there is no room for error. The physicians and support staff must be highly skilled and dedicated to their profession. The company should support the credentialing of its personnel and provide ongoing training and development for its staff members. Outcomes should be measured as well as being benchmarked for improvement. Peer review should be a routine aspect of clinical operations. The owners and management of the practice at all times should encourage continuous quality improvement and reward performance for superb outcomes. Providing excellent customer service at all times is considered by the patient to be tantamount to quality. Successful practices ensure that every patient is made to feel special and unique. Patients will often judge “quality” by the level of customer service that they received during their visit. Therefore, high quality, above average outcomes and exceptional customer service needs to be the daily norm of your business operations. How much time do you spend measuring outcomes and work to improve quality and customer service in your ophthalmic practice?

The highest expense of any practice is the cost of personnel. Up to 32% of revenues collected can be attributed to personnel costs for salary and benefits depending upon geographic locations. New staff members must be properly vetted to match the practice corporate culture. References and a background check must be completed on a routine basis. Time must be taken with existing and new hires to ensure they understand how the organization conducts business and what they need to do to be successful. It is important to match the person to the correct job. It is imperative that a new hire receives a structured orientation, formal job description and be provided with a clear understanding of what their role will be each day. Managers must complete a ninety-day initial evaluation on all new hires. Effective and appropriate performance tools should be used and if expectations are not being met, there should be consequences for poor work performance and behavior. Coaching and counseling should be part of normal business operations. Teamwork should always be the norm. Everybody’s job is critical and everyone plays an important role to ensure the practice is always operating at its highest level of efficiency and effectiveness.

The use of appropriate technology is an absolute must in a modern day ophthalmology practice. The company must have efficient practice management and electronic medical record software. Equipment must be state-of-the art for the diagnosis and treatment of the patient. The providers should engage the patient when reviewing the results of patient testing and imaging. The facility needs to be modern and present a very inviting atmosphere. There needs to be appropriate signage, ample free parking and accessibility.

It is also essential for the modern day ophthalmology practice to continue to diversify its services. Ophthalmology practices of all sizes can no longer afford to be a one, two or three product line company. Successful ophthalmology practices have managerial and physician leaders with vision. These front-runners constantly think out-of-the-box. They set the standards for others to follow. If there is a setback in the economy, they are prepared to weather the storm through appropriate product diversification. Ophthalmology practices need to be less dependent upon Medicare and commercial insurances. We recommend adding cash paying services to the organization in order to diversity the economic portfolio of the practice. Today in almost all markets there is extreme competition with a wide variety of highly skilled practitioners targeting potential patients as customers. Ophthalmology practices need to become more skilled in internal and external marketing to attract new patient populations. Traditional marketing techniques are not as effective as they have been in the past. Any viable organization must be constantly growing. New patient ratios should exceed 20% or greater. New patients are the lifeblood of any growing practice. We recommend that you take a hard look at internal, external and social media campaigns for your organization.

I often hear people say that we “provide the best quality and outcomes.” My response to them is to prove it! A significant amount of physicians, managers and staff members have a visceral feeling of success. However, they cannot provide tangible data to measure the outcomes of their investment of hard work. Therefore, it is important to have constant measuring of everything that can be analyzed in your ophthalmology practice. Patient outcomes, quality, service, growth, expenses, profitability, etc. should be monitored on an ongoing basis and formal reports should be benchmarked monthly for success. Reports should be shared with the staff and raises and bonuses should be given for positive outcome success; not for a cost of living. The goal is for everyone to get up each day and make a conscious effort to excel and create change in a positive dynamic environment. Every provider, manager and staff member has the unique ability to make the difference in the patients’ eyes.

The items listed in this report are some of the essential elements of a successful practice and does not represent the entire process of all of the managerial tools needed in the ophthalmic or medical practice environment. However, it is our opinion that these key elements are the building blocks for success and must be incorporated into management’s daily routine of leadership and supervision.

How Does Your Organization Stack Up? Talk to the consultants at Advantage Administration Inc. about improving the essential elements of your office. Contact us to learn more.