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Patient Flow – Transferring authority to the optician

Lets start with an obvious and undeniable truth…

In an ophthalmology practice, to maximize the probability that a newly refracted patient uses the optical shop to have their RX filled, the best course of action is to deliver the patient from the exam lane to the optical and introduce/credential the optician by name.  Whether or not the patient escort is the doctor or the technician, the delivery of the patient with an introduction to the optician by name conveys a sense of  seamlessness to the patients visit and feels similar to a standard patient visit where techs or the physician themselves escort patients from diagnostic room to diagnostic room.  This is how successful optical shops inside ophthalmology practices operate today and should be the way you do it in your practice.

As technology advancements have been embraced by our industry, the new paradigm is changing the way patients are directed to optical.  Todays protocols are more efficient in terms of time taken by the MD but often a bit colder and certainly less personal.  Once a refraction is completed, the results of that refraction are immediately entered into a practice management system and many of todays systems provide an auto print function where the eyeglass prescription is printed somewhere in the office (preferably the optical shop).  How efficient indeed!!  Patients are then told that their RX can be picked up in the optical (in most cases anyway) and then the overwhelming majority of patients go to the optical to get their RX.  Problem solved right?  Patients must go to the optical to get their RX and hence the practice has done their job…ensuring maximum usage of the optical, or so they think.  NOT TRUE.

This is where the typical ophthalmology practice stops their engagement (to the detriment of the optical shop capture rates).  They feel that by having a system in place that requires the patient to visit the optical, their job is completed.  It is then up to the optician to make the sale.

But I am here to tell you that while you certainly have created foot traffic for the optical with this technology, you have left out the most important part….the TRANSFER OF AUTHORITY.  Without an introduction to the optician by name and a pass off that in some way validates the optician as an expert in THE PATIENTS PRESCRIPTION, you have significantly denigrated your chances of making a sale.  The optical shop transforms from being another stop in the patients visit into a retail optical shop and the patients get their guard up and put on thier sales averse mindset.

Don’t miss the final stage of the patient flow process that ensures success….the patient transfer.  If the doctors cannot escort the patient, make sure the technician or scribe is trained to do it.  A proper transfer ensures the greatest likelihood that your patient remains in the practice to get their glasses.  An improper transfer assures only an opportunity.

Opportunity is great…but a sale is much better