Spring Clean Your Practice-Inside and Out
By Mary Hollis Stuck May 19, 2021
March through May have long since been associated with “spring cleaning.” Articles appear all over print and web publications depicting the best way to clean and organize your home-from your closets to your backyard-helping you freshen up your life. Why should that mindset be restricted only to your personal life? Consider using this time to “spring clean” your practice as well, from the windows to your accounts receivable. Take a look at a few tips we suggest to prepare yourself and your practice for the coming year.
Brick & Mortar Cleaning
- Look around your optical dispensary. Chances are, you have point-of-purchase displays from frame reps or lab reps, detailing the products you use. Go through each one, making sure they include only up-to-date products and resources. Get rid of any posters or cards depicting frames you no longer carry, or promotions that have expired. Ask your frame reps for new posters or counter cards for their newest frames; consider adding pops of color by hanging banners or framed posters on your walls, or adding bright new sunglass displays.
- Do you have the traditional stack of magazines in your waiting room for patients to read while waiting on their appointments? Toss out that Golf Digest from April of 2020. Make sure any magazines or reading material is up to date, within the last thirty days. (Or, keep in mind that this pandemic is still very real, and consider tossing all materials that multiple patients may handle. This reduces the amount of time your staff needs to spend sanitizing your office.)
- Do you or one of your staff members have a green thumb? A live plant or two placed throughout your waiting area and optical bring a breath of fresh air, literally, to any practice. Don’t have the skills necessary to keep a plant alive? Consider putting fresh-cut flowers out, if your budget allows, or check your local discount stores to find some cute fake succulents. Patients won’t look closely enough to know the truth, but they’ll appreciate your effort to liven up your space!
- It’s not uncommon to receive posters or flyers from drug reps. Head to Michaels, or a local frame shop, and pick out a handsome but inexpensive frame to mount them in. Even a simple black frame gives the contact lens poster hanging in your pretest room an instant upgrade.
- Take time to physically clean any areas of your practice that you may pay less attention to. Spot clean the chair in your waiting room where a young child spilled his juice last month. Wipe down your sunglass cases that may have collected a bit of dust over time. Organize paperwork and files at your front desk to give patients an uncluttered view, which will give them more confidence in your efficiency.
Behind the Scenes
- Run reports to show what outstanding insurance balances you have in your practice. If a claim has not been paid, spend the time looking into the reason for a denial or submission error. Check for any amounts outstanding after a claim has been paid, as well, and be sure that any contracted amounts have been written off, and aren’t just hanging out in limbo, making your outstanding claim balances seem higher than they should be.
- Review all patient accounts with outstanding balances. Depending on your financial agreement with your patients, consider if it is worth outsourcing these balances to a collection account. While your payables will not be 100%, it’s often better to receive a partial payment while having someone else do the work of contacting delinquent patients to collect balances.
- Take time to review policies and procedures with your staff. If you can’t remember the last time you did HIPAA training, it’s probably long overdue. Set aside time to review this information with your staff to avoid any problems down the road.
- For some reason, there are plenty of people who order glasses or contacts, but never come back to pick them up. Go through all of your orders that are ready for pick up, but haven’t been dispensed. If an order has been in your office for over two weeks, give the patient another phone call. Life can be hectic and they could have forgotten they even placed the order. On older contact lens orders, consider making returns if you think the patient will not come by to pick up the product. This is especially important for any materials that have not yet been paid for; your material bill has likely already been paid, and you want to be sure you don’t have money simply sitting in trays on your wall.
- Create goals for your practice. This can be anything from a higher capture rate in your optical, to an increase in new patient exams. Discuss your goals with your staff, and keep them involved. Post your goals in a visible spot in your office, in a break room, or similar area, so that the staff can regularly be reminded of what you’re working towards. Don’t forget to motivate them with a reward for reaching the goal!
Spring is a great time to create a fresh new start. Take the time now to make a plan for your practice. By involving your staff in goals and changes, you can better your connection to them, which can help increase productivity. In making little cosmetic changes to your office, you let patients know that you take pride in your practice, and want to deliver them the best possible experience. Just remember, taking steps to freshen your practice, from the reception counter to your accounts receivable, will only increase productivity, which always leads to increased revenue.