Taking on a new optometry office software to do everything in your office is a big task, luckily it comes with training! Everybody knows great training will make your experience getting used to the new software so much easier, but still it’s a big undertaking to get everyone up to speed and more importantly, feeling comfortable and confident with the new tool for when you debut it with patients in the office. Here are a few tips that will make training more successful, more realistic, and also much more enjoyable.
This seems obvious enough, but you’d be surprised how often this falls through the cracks because offices are busy. Training takes time and there’s always a patient with a question, a job to process urgently, or something to follow up on. If you have online courses or other self-paced materials available that helps with the time management but practicing, you can’t really get away from. So let’s make it more efficient and more successful.
1) Practice Together. Sam comes in for an appointment, and she is greeted by Tim at the front desk; checked in and prepared for her exam. Marie goes through the questionnaires, runs screening tests and instrument readings, and enters the visual acuities before the doctor takes over the exam. Once the doctor finishes the exam itself, the Rx and any applicable exam charges are given to Max in optical setting up the lab order, and Sarah, who will prepare the invoice and generate the claim. Their work goes much smoother if Tim at the front desk has entered all the patient information. Imagine the bottle neck if Tim doesn’t set up the insurance coverage for Sam’s appointment. You’ve probably gone through this; you get the idea.
The point is, that when it comes to patient visits, everyone does their part. It’s a group effort to keep the ship running smoothly and efficiently. So if you practice all by yourself, you’re practicing for a scenario that doesn’t exist. It’s best to get your colleagues together and each participate in the practice in the same way they would with a real patient visit: The front desk staff do the scheduling and the check in, the technicians do the tasks they’d normally do with a patient (which is different in different offices). The doctor does an exam and sends the Rx and the exam charges to the optician, and so on. Make it as close to your usual process as you can.
2) Practice the Hand-Off. As you do this, one of the things to watch out for is how the hand-off works: what information does Tim at the front desk need to put into the patient record so that everyone else who works with this patient has what they need at their fingertips? Insurance at the very least, but there might be other things, too. What information does the doctor need to transfer to the optician, the biller? The hand-off is the thing that most often falls through the cracks of solid optometry software training.
3) Use Real Patient Charts. What’s the most realistic example of a patient visit? Well, a real patient visit, no? Grab some charts that you did the day before, replace the real patient demographics with fake information and use the patient’s chart as an example for your practicing as if that patient was in the office right now.
4) Hold Weekly Staff Meetings. So, what’s the best approach to this idea of practicing together? Hold weekly staff meetings if you don’t already. Getting together at a certain time a week will help everyone plan their own training ahead of time. It will also help with making sure everyone is on the same page, with the same expectations for go live, and any challenges can be addressed early, etc. Staff meetings, at least throughout an implementation like this, are a very helpful thing to do. But not only for that, for the practicing: A weekly staff meeting is an excellent forum to take 2-3 charts together and enter them into the new software as if they were here. Remember to replace the demographics with something fake, but other than that, use what is in the chart as a realistic example.
5) Ask Questions. We can’t stress this enough. Make sure you ask your questions so we can get you answers. Use the resources, like the help menu, or the live Q&A sessions where you have access to a trainer for any question you might have about the software. Don’t be shy. Getting you solutions is what we are here for.
The staff meetings will be very helpful with this as well because everyone is practicing together – any gaps in the process will be obvious pretty quickly and together you can find solutions to those potential bottlenecks. Together you can brainstorm and use everyone’s ideas and in the end, you’ll have not only mastered the new software, but also made sure you have everything ready to go for ensuring your patients get the best care that they can.
6) Be Flexible With Your Processes. Every office has certain ways of doing things that need to get done. Otherwise you’d never get them done on time or things would get forgotten. One of the tricky things with new ehr implementation is that those processes may not fit the new tool. New tools come with new features and a new layout, new capabilities – things that played a big role in deciding on the new software to begin with, especially now when all the optical practice management software is affected so much by the health care reform. It will have features you’ve never had before and not only that, they’ll be mandatory to use because of Meaningful Use. Make sure that you keep an open mind for the possibility of having to change some of your existing processes to fit the new tool. This often makes people feel a bit apprehensive, but don’t worry, this is actually a good thing: it’s a chance to make your processes fit the efficiency of the new tool – and efficiency is good, right?
If you're thinking about going through an EHR software change, check out our ebook to help manage the change.