Samantha Hornberger, OD, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, is not alone in the challenges she is currently facing surrounding COVID-19. To combat feeling helpless, she sat down with her staff and brainstormed ways to prepare and operate as best they could. From that meeting came enough ideas that she decided to compile them into one manual to be shared with ODs and their staff around the world. “My plan is helping quiet the chaos. It’s making me feel more in control,” she says.
SPREADING THE WORD
Once the manual, entitled Hope is Not a Strategy, was complete, she took to the internet to share with her fellow ODs. It was just a few pages long initial but it’s now up to 17 pages. She promoted the free, downloadable manual through her own website and shared it in optometry Facebook groups. The manual covers everything from scheduling to closing to best practices for handling and helping your staff. In one day, the manual received 500 downloads. “People said it made them feel better having some plans.” She adds, “I’ll update it as things change. I’ve added a section on more things you can do, like tasks for staff if you’re keeping them on and what owners can be doing by looking at profitability of products and services.” For example, she’s taking time to analyze managed vision plans now to ensure higher profitability later.
She also includes a section on how to expedite getting back on your feet once the crisis is under control.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Like many ODs around the world, Dr. Hornberger had heard of and been interested in telemedicine and the providers such as EyeCareLive, but was simply too swamped to put it into practice. Now that she has the time to implement it, she can work on shorter-term solutions, but also plans on making it stick around in her practice. “Once we make the leap to implement, the patient demand will be higher,” she says. “I think for doctors, if you’re going to take the time now, make it work for you in the future.” She has included links to webinars on telemedicine in the manual.
MAY IT LAST
Many of the ideas brainstormed by Dr. Hornberger and her staff are life-long additions, she says. When they sat down at their first staff meeting to brainstorm how they could make the office as safe and clean as possible, the team sat down and thought through the whole patient interaction. “Where are all the touchpoints? Where are the places that we don’t pay attention to disinfection?” Disinfecting- not just cleaning- frames was a start and something they may keep up more attentively once the office reopens. But other practical safety processes also came to mind. While Dr. Hornberger and her techs wash their hands frequently, for staff who are not involved in direct patient care, this may not have been a priority. She plans on encouraging her front office staff, who greet patients and handle credit and insurance cards and intake forms, to take up the practice as well.
“I am controlling what I can control. When I feel out of control, doing something makes me feel better. It has helped me organize my thoughts,” she says. “If I can do that for somebody else, it is icing on the cake.”
DOWNLOAD THE MANUAL
Visitors to Dr. Hornberger’s website can sign up for her email list and be notified any time she has made an update to the manual—or they can download the manual here.