Although expansion is usually associated with a time of exponential growth, the current safety measures surrounding coronavirus call for something similar. Many optometrists are facing challenges with keeping their staff and patients safe in a small space.
Of course, many patients can be seen via telehealth services, but there are still a handful who need to come into the practice for in-person exams or emergencies. One way to keep them safe is physical expansion of your practice's space while another is through adding an associate OD and splitting the duties.
We'll go over a few methods of practice expansion today for you to think about implementing long-term.
Ways to Expand Your Optometry Practice
With the amount of time your practice spends cleaning and making sure there aren't too many people in your practice at any given time, your maximum patient volume has probably decreased. Not only do you need to space out appointments, which decreases the number of patients you can see at a time, but you have to factor in money and time for sanitizing the space and equipment. Here are a few ways you can expand to accommodate more patients safely:
More Exam Lanes
If you have 2 doctors and quite a bit of space in your practice, spring for 2-4 exam rooms on opposite sides of the practice so that they can work simultaneously rather than working in shifts or overworking. This also allows you to schedule exams in 30 minute shifts rather than hourly because you can let patients wait for the doctor to be free in the exam room rather than the waiting area.
This solution obviously provides more space for distancing. Although moving or taking over the lease of the business next door might not be an option for many, it is a great idea for distancing. Especially if you have two individual leases, you can keep patients and doctors separate more easily and install a door between the two offices.
Maybe it's your dispensary, not distancing for exams, that's causing stress or bottleneck. Ask your landlord to install a window in the front of your building for order pickup. This is an even better option if you own the space you're working in.
Additionally, you can convert your dispensary into space for pre-testing or exams. You'd have to offer individual appointments with stylists/opticians. This move greatly reduces the amount of sanitizing you need to do for a frame board and could actually increase sales through personal shopping techniques.
Your time and space are valuable. Create a 5 year plan to make you feel secure in your career.