The following is an article featuring our own Dr. Neukirch published in the June 2019 IDOC Quarterly – an industry publication on optometric practice management. Lean more about IDOC at idoc.net.
At Carillon Vision Care, the patients come for the practice’s reputation, not the doctors’ reputation. And Andrew Neukirch, OD, wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s what Dr. Jerome Agrest envisioned when he started the Glenview, Illinois, practice in 1958 and is something that Dr. Neukirch, clinic director, continues to aspire to.
Build a team with credibility and everybody wins. It starts with the simple things—like following best practices.
“It’s silly to try and reinvent the wheel yourself when it comes to how you run your practice,” Dr. Neukirch says. “I find that sharing and following best practices—and being willing to listen to your fellow practitioners—is one of the simplest methods of improving the quality of my own life inside of our practice.”
All systems, manuals, operating procedures and workflow outlines Carillon Vision uses—whether written or unwritten—are either modified versions or direct copies of best practices he had read about or seen applied in person.
“ODs can stimulate the best behaviors simply by leading by example,” Dr. Neukirch says. “Our staff is expected to show up 10 minutes prior to their scheduled time to start so I hold myself to this as well. There will rarely be a time when I am sitting idle myself, and this is true of our other team members, too. There is always something that could use some attention.”
Several years ago, Carillon Vision made the decision to eliminate lunch breaks from its schedule to increase efficiency. The ODs see patients seven hours, but are paid for eight. And while they stay late if needed or come in early to catch up on charting, it rarely happens. Other team members usually get 30 paid minutes to eat if they like, but if the office is slammed, they put the patients first.
“As doctor/owners, our time is incredibly valuable while in the practice – whether it’s seeing patients or working on the business itself,” Dr. Neukirch says.
Ben Kachelman, an OD with Florence Eye Center in Florence, Alabama believes that having your staff buy in is critical to running an efficient, productive practice.
“A difficult lesson to learn is to trust your staff,” he says. “This may not mean to go crazy and share every detail, but rather, be willing to share the pertinent things of the business with them. Share financial numbers or the details of the functionality of patient flow. You thought they were good enough to hire and keep around, so trust them. It gives them more ownership in the process and begins the creative thinking process.”
At Florence Eye Center, staff unity is built through things like consistent, structured staff meetings. Kachelman says practice production elevates when the practice as a team focuses on particular topics. “Ultimately, your staff needs to see the core beliefs of the practice in you. What do you focus on? What do you talk about in the down time in between patients? What do you believe?”
Creating a happiness-centered culture is one of the defining pillars of any practice’s foundation. The strategy involves establishing a clear, obtainable action plan with goals and targets that can be measured and tracked on a regular basis.
If you want to be a well-oiled machine, you have to invest in the oil.