You’ve looked at your practice’s patient schedule templates already during your first lesson. The way that those templates have been designed is very strategic! And I’ll reiterate that you must adhere to the templates. There are very few reasons to override your templates and those reasons should be very clearly defined, as well as exactly who can override the templates and how this is done. If you are in charge of creating your scheduling template, please keep these critical points in mind. If you are tasked with following the templates, it’s important to understand these points when you are tempted to consider ignoring the template, overriding the template, or suggesting a change!
Every optometrist has a different capacity for providing excellent patient care, both emotionally and physically. This capacity can change as life circumstances change. As we reviewed in a previous lesson, there is no right or wrong patient schedule, although there are some important financial considerations that must be taken into account when setting up the template. The management team should be re-evaluating each optometrist’s capacity on at least an annual basis.
The patient schedule template should be built around using the entire team’s resources efficiently. If someone other than the licensed optometrist can do it (whatever it is!) then that should be pursued! The best practice is to have licensed optometrists doing only what they are licensed to do, and to delegate everything else to trained support staff. Scope of practice and delegation regulations are different by country and, within the country, by state or province. Check with your manager on these rules and regulations if you are not sure about this.
Why should we be delegating? Well, there is a financial term called chair cost, which is basically the amount of money it takes for the practice to break even for one hour of optometrist clinical chair time (i.e., when they are seeing patients). Even though every person on your team is exceptionally valuable, the optometrist’s time will always be the most valuable in terms of cost and potential income. They are the ones who produce the money through clinical care and recommendations for materials purchases. We want to protect their “precious” time and make sure they can use it productively. Running tests and entering data are not productive tasks, even though they are necessary. Why not have someone else on the team besides the optometrist do these tasks?