Mary Anne Murphy, OD, of Front Range Eye Associates, in Broomfield, Colorado, has made some of the expected changes in her office over the past two years: equipment enhancements and scheduling process changes to improve the overall efficiency of this four-OD location. “But the biggest impact on the practice has been to encourage everyone to be involved in professional, corporate and community organizations,”she says. “Whether it’s a service club, homeowners’ associations or a preschool group, these affiliations are important.”
Dr. Murphy is no stranger to outside commitments. She serves as U.S. Chair for Optometry Giving Sight and has been a Vision Source® administrator. She now sits on the board of VSP. “Being on the board of a multibillion dollar company has allowed me to have a different view of my own practice, everything from how the company runs its statistical analyses to understanding the different lines of business and how they impact the company.” Those new insights have made her a better business manager, she says.
Dr. Murphy has three associates, and all four doctors work no more than three days a week, plus occasional weekends. The practice is open about 60 hours per week. In addition, Dr. Murphy offers her associates and staff paid days each year for volunteer activities. Shira Pipkin, OD, for example, is involved with the Colorado Optometric Association and the local professional society, connections that have provided her with insights into important local and national issues and trends in eye care. Marisa Perez, OD, FAAO, and Tracy Aigner, OD, are involved with their children’s preschools and local athletic clubs. “They’re both in their Mothers of Preschoolers groups, but they talk about vision development to these other moms. It’s giving them a venue to extend their passion about optometry, and it keeps people wellrounded.” These connections undoubtedly result in new patients, too. “When one stepped up to organize a fund-raiser for a gala, it resulted in an incredible influx of patients.” Indeed, this grassroots network by the doctors and staff have resulted in such growth that a year ago, Dr. Murphy began shifting all new patients to her associates’ schedules. “I’d estimate that someone in the office has a connection to about ¾ of our patients. That’s how strong the intercommunity growth is.”
Dr. Murphy acknowledges that it requires a willingness to coordinate schedules. “If you’re running until 6:30 p.m. and a board meeting is at 7, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not going to make it. But we block out the hours before someone has a commitment, and the staff is great about helping with that,” she says. She also allows her associates to make phone calls on these other commitments, as long as they don’t interfere with patient care. “When I started with Optometry Giving Sight and as an administrator, I could see that I was working with groups that didn’t have a patient schedule to work around. You have to reach people when you can, and sometimes the only time you can do that is during our office hours.”
It mirrors the grassroots network that has made Vision Source® so successful. “That intercollegiate action within the Vision Source® network has delivered so much to us,” she says. For example, she encourages new ODs to the network to adopt strategies recommended by Vision Source®, such as writing follow-up letters to primary care physicians of patients with diabetes, attending Vision Source® meetings and visiting colleagues’ offices. “At first, it seems like these efforts are taking away you’re your time in the office and will be a drain on productivity, but the investment of time is so well worth it.”