Keeping careful track of the key metrics in three practices is essential, says Susan Keene, OD, who owns Envision Eye Care and Dry Eye Clinic, with three locations in Virginia and Tennessee. As Dr. Keene’s practice grew to include seven ODs and about 50 employees, managing performance metrics became more complex as well as more critical. So she added EDGEPro by GPN Technologies, a data dashboard that integrates with OD and team performance.
“I really don’t understand how a practice can stay on top of what’s going on without a dashboard system,” she says. “As we consider adding a fourth location, our concentration is on implementing management efficiencies that would work as well with six or seven locations as with the four we have in mind. My only regret is that I didn’t rely more on dashboard systems in our initial expansion to smooth out some of the chaotic moments that we’ve experienced with high growth.”
She is now able to assess precisely the impact that a new associate or new or upgraded diagnostic equipment has. Plus, she is able to be much more responsive if profitability or growth
numbers are lower than expected. “Having a dashboard shows me immediately where the problems originate, and this points to solutions that provide long-term growth.”
The system has allowed her to quantify the impact of decisions. For example, when Envision Eye Care added a second location, a satellite, the idea was that it would have an OD in place two days a week, even while it was open full time. But as she and her administrators recognized the need for medical eye care services that were not being offered in the region, the satellite grew quickly and soon eclipsed the original location.
“We collaborated with local MDs to provide exams for their patients with diabetes, among other services. We expanded that to specialize in dry eye and meibomian gland disease management, offering LipiFlow and scleral contact lens fittings,” she says. Each practice has a separate dashboard because patient bases, demands and demographics differ. Yet being able to compare the data allows her to identify points of efficiency.
She can also make business decisions with data to back her up. For example, when the practice added LipiFlow to one practice to provide additional dry eye treatments, the cash-only procedure boosted profits there significantly. “But it doesn’t make sense to add the system at all locations. We can refer patients from one office to the one with the system,” she says.
As she’s considering adding aesthetic optometry services, with an intense pulsed light system, she can track her return on investment in one location and determine the best path forward. Managing smarter, not harder, has allowed her to create a schedule for herself that allows her to see patients two days a week and conduct management reviews in the practices for another two days.
PERCEPTION AND REALITY
Numbers provide an unemotional standard by which to make decisions. The data has at times surprised her. “In all our locations, we promote the health and convenience advantages of daily disposable contact lenses. I thought that two-week replacement lenses accounted for just one percent or two percent of our lens sales,” Dr. Keene says. Not so. “I checked and found that 18 percent of our contact lens orders were for two-week lenses. That allowed the team to see how they could strengthen their recommendations.”
Similarly, the data can add impartiality to performance reviews. “Working sessions on how to make performance improvements provide a huge step up from the seat-of-the-pants style of management,” she says. Current performance as well as measurable goals mean fewer “moving goal posts,” a management style that frustrates employees and associates. With associate ODs, for example, she can set an initial compensation base plus performance and track that specifically for re-evaluation at six months and one year.
“With our dashboard systems, we have transitioned our professional staff to performance-based compensation. The advantage, again, is that numbers are devoid of emotions, which often cloud compensation discussions,” she says. “We make it clear from the start that we use objective data for reviews, goal setting and improvement targets.”
With data at her fingertips, she can manage all aspects of the business with greater accuracy and confidence.
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