Not even the sky is the limit to your Practice's Growth Trajectory

Oct. 14, 2020 Featured article in Review of Optometric Business By Larry Golson, OD

A practice primed for a high level of patient care and revenue growth requires a firm handle on key business metrics. Here is the technology that enables my ability to track the practice our patients love while ensuring and building profitability.

Make Metrics Tracking a Team Effort In my practice, every team member has a “number,” a key performance indicator (KPI) metric to track. They are responsible for presenting their KPI at our weekly team meeting. To help them – and me – track our metrics, I use the EDGEPro platform by GPN. The most important metrics we track include: • Revenue-per patient (revenue for a given time period divided by the number of refractions in that same time period). • Number of available comprehensive exam slots (number of comprehensive exam patients seen divided by the total available comprehensive exam slots). • Number of retinal images captured (retinal images captured divided by the total number of comprehensive exams seen over a given period of time). • Optical capture rate (number of glasses sold divided by the number of comprehensive exams seen). • Net promoter score (number of patients ranking their experience a nine or 10 on a 1-10 scale).

Setting Goals for KPIs We have an established goal for all our KPIs, which is based on an average of other EDGEPro users across the country. Those goals are set and adjusted according to those national averages, as well as the level of competency of our team at a given time. For example, let’s say we have a goal of a 70 percent optical capture rate, and we lose a star optician. That goal would have to be lowered at least temporarily until a new optician was hired, trained and became proficient. We want our KPI goals to both push our team toward ever-greater improvement while remaining realistic. Ideally, we want to hit our goals 80 percent of the time. If we always achieve our goals, then the goals are not challenging enough, and if we never achieve them, the goals become discouraging and counterproductive.

Addressing Areas of Needed Improvement As we report the metrics we have tracked in our team meetings, we set aside for further discussion any metric that did not meet or exceed the goal set for it. Along with the key metric for the past week, our team members report how their metric’s percentage or dollar amount compared to the previous week. This gives a sense of whether the metric is on a steady upward or downward track, or whether it has plateaued. It also helps my team understand how their efforts contribute to the practice success.

Making Changes to Move Metrics When our metrics are not where we would like them to be, the problem is often ineffective communication and a need for additional team training. For example, we want our medical assistants to be able to do more than repeat a script. They need to understand the why it’s valuable to the doctor and patient, so they can properly communicate that value to our patients. For that reason, we provide training that helps our team members understand the eye health benefits to the patient of having these images captured. We then assess for competency and perform “pop quizzes” to ensure continued competence.

Similarly, when we notice that our optical capture rate is lower than we would like, it is often because the communication during the optical hand-off isn’t as powerful and smooth as it should be. The doctor may have slipped into a comfort zone in explaining their prescriptions, or the opticians aren’t referencing the doctor’s prescriptions/treatment plans–and the reasons behind those prescriptions–clearly enough in the optical.

Dashboard management with EDGEPro has proved invaluable in our efforts to effect constant improvement in the areas above. Another example is using the technology to track and improve annual supply sales of contact lenses. Both the doctors and support staff have been trained to communicate a unified message about annual supplies. In the exam room, the doctor, says “You’re approved for a year’s supply of contact lenses.” That message is carried into the optical, with opticians or our patient-care coordinator saying, “It looks like the doctor has approved you for a year’s supply of contact lenses. With your insurance, and the rebate you get for purchasing a year supply, it comes to X dollars, which is like getting two free boxes of contacts.”

Put the Metrics Into Context for Your Team It’s important not to lead with a financial focus when discussing metrics in team meetings. I’ve found there is a higher degree of buy-in from my team when they understand the reason behind tracking our KPIs– the numbers are simply indicators for how well we are communicating the value of our services and products to patients.

The great thing about dashboard management technology like EDGEPro is it enables a team to look together at the numbers that tell you how well you are serving patients. If we drive the ship of effective communication with our patients, so they understand how the services and products we offer will help them either attain pleasure or avoid pain, financial growth will follow inevitably in the wake.

Larry Golson, OD, is the owner of Envision Eyecare in Asheville, N.C.

Dr. Golson also offers practice consulting as the president of HarmonEyes.

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