For years, Patricia Ward Adams, OD, has been counting on ABB Optical Group to bring convenience and reliability to her contact lens business. Several years ago, the practice began ordering its stock lenses from ABB and “found that to be another great partnership with cost-savings and high customer satisfaction,” she says. Then in the past year, the practice began using some of the technology practice business solutions from ABB, specifically ABB Verify.
All of these have helped accelerate practice growth in this practice that Andrew Ward, OD — Dr. Ward Adams’ father – started in 1973. Eighteen years ago, she and her husband, J. Murray Adams, OD, began working in the practice and eventually took over ownership eight years ago.
The couple has maintained Dr. Ward’s philosophy of being a servant to the community. That means being accessible, friendly and affordable. Yet when vendors offer her services that allow her to practice more efficiently without compromising the level of care or raising her costs to her patients, she becomes keenly interested.
That is precisely what happened when she heard about ABB Verify. As a busy practice seeing 60 to 70 patients per day for primary care or ocular medical cases, verifying both health and vision insurance was a major challenge. “We have two practices and four full-time ODs, so each day, we were verifying for the next day or trying to do it on the spot. When we could, we would work a few days ahead,” she recalls.
The time-savings is evident. “Previously, we would have one or two people spending hours each day verifying insurance. Now it’s integrated into the technician prep.” She calls it an efficiency boost because using ABB Verify had made this a task that can be shared.
It used to be a specialty skill, but the system can guide any employee through the process. That has made staff onboarding much easier as well. “When we hire a new employee, it takes at least six months if they have no optical experience to train them in the language of optics and customer service. Then if we had to add on the technical aspects of reading insurance verifications and marry that to optical and vision benefits, it was complicated. Using ABB Verify has taken a two-week training and condensed it to about a day. That’s huge and frees up the training time so we can move more quickly.”
The system is integrated with the practice’s electronic medical records systems, so it autogenerates a list of patients who may be due for an annual examination or those who may have come in but have not used their vision benefits for the year. “It’s more robust than a recall system because we can alert them if they have benefits that they haven’t used yet,” she says.
Not only is that a pleasant surprise for the patient, but the practice also did not anticipate the business boost that came from that. “It has resulted in increased revenue because we get calls or patients stopping in saying that they didn’t realize they could use their benefits for additional services or products. The dashboard shows us each month how effective that tool is.”
Managing the practice’s data is important – especially now that the practice opened its second location in 2022. While the plan had been in place for years because of the physical limitations to growth at the practice, the pandemic environment stalled the actual opening. Currently, it’s a satellite office with one-doctor coverage several days a week, but Dr. Adams says they can scale up as needed. “It’s 20 miles away, and we had a lot of patients who were traveling right near or past that location to come here,” she says.
Contact lenses are a driver in the growth. She says that the practice saw a spike in contact lens utilization during the pandemic, and the shift from reusable lenses to one-day lenses was apparent. “We’re using ABB quite a bit and we’re shipping more of our contact lens orders than we used to. That’s also a growth opportunity, and one of the reasons why I’m so excited about Abby, ABB’s new online contact lens ordering platform. Patients don’t want to be inconvenienced by working within the parameters of our business hours. Letting patients place their orders and shipping directly to the patient helps us add the conveniences patients want in this competitive environment. It’s helping us try to meet our patients where they are.” (See an earlier story on Abby here.)
She’s grateful that ABB recognizes that and works to develop solutions that independent eye care professionals can use to provide superior care and a personalized touch but gain more efficiency.