Adversity also forces practices to optimize or completely rebuild their workflow. If you’re incorporating remote work,
adding a corporate lease, or moving to private equity, you have new opportunities for growth in your business that
you can take advantage of. Although you may already have a network of support to lean on, we wanted to get an OD's opinion on how his outlook and approach to eyecare changed since the start of the pandemic.
The following is an excerpt from our interview with Dr. Aaron Sako, a respected industry leader. From touchless exams to ecommerce, he'll cover all the business opportunities he feels are now open for his practice.
Which workflow changes you made during the pandemic will stick around for the long term?
We got proficient with Uprise EHR in all of our locations. Being that this is a cloud based system, it enables us to access patient information from any location with an internet connection. It was very helpful during COVID-19 and shelter-in-place, because we were able to close practices and still answer telephones to connect with patients and process orders for contact lenses and glasses sales. We found collecting revenue while not being at the office extremely efficient.
VisionWeb’s Revenue Cycle Management team worked on our receivables so we continued to collect money and decrease the AR. Upon re-opening, we are embracing the Uprise patient portal and having our patients virtually sign all welcome forms, HIPAA notification, our financial policy, contact lens forms, and retinal imaging forms prior to entering the office. This saves patients from approaching the front desk. It also alleviates the cost of paper and the time it took staff to scan, upload copies, enter data, and shred paper after they were finished. Due to COVID-19, we also aim to provide a near “touchless” eye examination.
We are considering an e-commerce option to capture business while not physically seeing patients. We actually sold a few pairs of glasses through our online frame browser on our website, which we had never done prior to being shut down, so we are re-visiting the idea of being able to sell on our practice website and currently considering options to build a more complete shopping experience. We also sold contacts off our website through CLX, which has been a great system to help the office increase capture rate on contact lenses.
Are there any learning or business opportunities you’ve found amongst the changes due to COVID-19?
The most important thing I would recommend is to find a group of ODs you trust and can bounce ideas off frequently. It can be a formal or informal study group, paid or unpaid. A few really good options out there are the PERC Presidents Alliance group, a PERC Key Advisor group, a Vision Source administrator-run group or an Opti-Source Peer group. The key is to find those with similar practice goals whom you can get along with and trust to break down processes that improve your business. Set the time aside to meet frequently, ask questions, and network.
What business growth strategies are you adopting to be ready for the rest of the year?
Most importantly, I will be ensuring we can continue to invest in staff and their training for the offices. If our staff is not invested and well-trained, we will not be able to grow as quickly as we want. I plan to lean on key companies in the industry to provide this training. Essilor Labs has a number of resources to help train offices to increase sales, including capture rate, non-glare rate and transition capture rate, to name a few. I know this will be low hanging fruit, as I don’t need to see more patients for growth, just increase our overall revenue per patient. I will expand our online sales directly off our practices' websites and look into moving to a single company for all marketing, website and SEO efforts for all offices. Marketing 4ECP’s does a great job in this arena. I will also be expanding the practice’s higher cash paying technologies like LipiScan/Lipiflow, Tear Sciences, Scleral lenses, and myopia control. I will consider the option to grow through acquisition of other nearby practices.
Read the entire interview and plenty others like it in our ebook, Building an Adaptable Eyecare Practice.