Two years ago, Jeri Schneebeck, OD, FCOVD, relocated the practice she purchased in 1983 from its original office space. That office had served as a place where she made the business her own and first left her mark on the community, but a bigger building, with far greater visibility to passersby, would allow improved efficiencies and room for growth.
There were several must-have requirements on Dr. Schneebeck’s list for the design of the new Highline Vision Center: a layout that would simplify the flow of patients through the office and a networked system of diagnostic instrumentation connected to her electronic medical records. Computer monitors in each exam room swivel around to show patients retinal photography and optical coherence tomography images.
Highline Center for Vision Performance, Dr. Schneebeck’s vision therapy center, now has its own separate area and entrance for patients. Dr. Schneebeck is passionate about vision therapy and improving her patients’ vision and quality of life. These services have been a big part of the business for many years, yet she discovered that some families and patients were hesitant about receiving therapy even though they believed in its capabilities. “Vision therapy is not often covered by insurance, and even though patients want to give themselves or their children the best care, it may be a strain on the budget,” Dr. Schneebeck says.
So about 15 years ago, Dr. Schneebeck decided to start offering patients health care financing through CareCredit. “I think it’s a huge advantage if we can give patients a way to finance the therapy, and we can offer it without being the bank,” she says. Anyone in her office may suggest this opportunity. Her patient care coordinators often mention it on the phone to potential vision therapy patients before they come into the office. Or an optician can offer CareCredit financing for a second pair of eyewear. That may encourage a sale for a favorite pair of sunglasses even if the patient is already using his or her insurance allowance. Patients may also opt to use this financing for special diagnostic testing such as from her new Daytona from Optos, and patients without any type of insurance often sign up.
Dr. Schneebeck says the approval is quick and can be completed online. Patients can use the card in a variety of practitioners’ offices. “It gives you a bridge to offer patients, and they may buy something from you that they may not have bought otherwise.” Plus she’s allowing patients to reap the benefits of therapy and treatment right away and, often, interest-free. “It has been a good partnership, and we can help our patients take care of their needs.”
DELEGATE FOR SUCCESS
All of the technicians and opticians at Highline Vision Center are certified for their positions. Dr. Jeri Schneebeck holds them accountable to that standard. “I want to make this a profession versus a job for my staff members,” Dr. Schneebeck says. “They have to keep up with their education, and our job satisfaction is high because they have a lot responsibility.”
Dr. Schneebeck feels comfortable delegating many parts of an exam to her trained technicians. She says that she appreciates their investment and emphasis on providing an excellent patient experience. “The patient really feels cared for,” she says.
Patients interact with a staff member who collects information and data throughout pretesting, and then they meet with the doctor and his or her scribe in the exam room. Dr. Schneebeck says that she and her practice partner Jennifer Redmond, OD, FCOVD, and associate Nicholas Doyle, OD, like that a scribe allows them to sit and talk with their patients face to face. “We can use our time and expertise to analyze the data and communicate with the patient,” Dr. Schneebeck says.
Staff members take turns in the pretesting and scribing roles. Patients can always review the doctors’ instructions and ask questions because there is always a staff member with the patient. It’s rewarding for doctors, staff and patients when a personal connection is made. The proof is in the practice’s many longtime, loyal patients.