The Bartlesville, Oklahoma, practice that Emily Bussey, OD, purchased in 2010 came with some serious constraints. Even at 1,600 square feet, the practice design was not set up for the busy practice she envisioned. “The design was really for one doctor seeing seven or eight patients a day. There was no pretesting room, the optical was 10’ by 11’, and there were only three or four parking spaces,” she says. “I couldn’t expand my schedule because we could only fit one patient in the optical at a time.”
For example, her pretesting room was 10’ by 10’ and contained six pieces of equipment. “If I had someone doing a visual field, occupying the room for 20 minutes, I couldn’t do pretesting.”
It became even more crowded after Dr. Bussey, pregnant with twins three years ago, brought on an associate, Jenny Stevens, OD. “After I came back from maternity leave, I kept her on. But we had to split the week because we couldn’t both see patients.”
So she began looking for a new location, and found one on a main road, across from a popular mall. Not only is it larger, she was able to create the design for efficiency. “Patients start in the reception area but can easily walk over to the optical. Once they start the process, it’s a circular flow pattern. The pretest room is a walk-through room. You enter on one side and the exit door is straight across the room. Then there are four exam rooms, and from there patients pass by the contact lens room and exit into the optical. There’s great efficiency in that pattern.”
She worked with an architect and with Barbara Wright Design to select the colors and optical look. The optical is open and airy, with huge windows and a chandelier that stays lit at night. Wright designed the cabinetry and found a local craftsman to build it all, a big savings and a way to support local business. Dr. Bussey says she wasn’t able to articulate her style, necessarily, but she showed Wright her Pinterest page, in which she had pinned styles and decorating ideas that appealed to her. Wright took it from there, and Dr. Bussey continues to add seasonal collectibles to the displays.
Even with four exams lanes, however, Dr. Bussey and Dr. Stevens are continuing to work one doctor at a time. “We find that we’re much more efficient running out of three or even four exam lanes with one doctor. So 10 months in, I’m already planning an expansion,” she says, laughing. She considered adding more exam lanes earlier, but the cost would have busted her budget. But she did place and design her office and a staff break room as spaces that could be converted into exam lanes. In the next year or two, around the time that her twins go to kindergarten, she anticipates making the conversion to six exam lanes so that two doctors can work at the same time.
Despite the limitations of her old office, Dr. Bussey says she saw about 30 percent year-over-year growth. However, in the past 10 months since her move, her revenue is increasing even more. One reason is that per-patient revenue has increased in the optical. “It’s not even that we’re carrying more frames, but patients are able to see what we have. And we’ve been making a move to bring in more designer lines. Patients come into this beautiful optical, and they expect to see higher-priced frames.”