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Patricia Basile | 4/23/2019

Smaller practices that have fewer employees have always cross-trained out of necessity. These practices may have only one person to perform the duties of receptionist, technician, biller and optician. As practices grow, they tend to look for people to “take over certain functions” and begin to specialize the positions in the office. A better path is to add another highly motivated staff member to “clone” that one great person that has been doing everything. I have always been an advocate of cross-training, so I really love the idea of one staff member greeting the patient, pretesting, scribing and then fitting them for eyeglasses and ordering their contact lenses. Imagine the capture rate your practice could realize if this one technician heard all of the patient’s concerns about their vision and their eyewear and stayed with them through the entire visit including frame and lens selection. I spoke with such a practice this week and their capture rate is over 70%! This is the magic of building trusted relationships and providing truly personalized health care.

Here are five of the advantages of cross-training:

  1. Produces consistent coverage across vital positions. Vacation coverage, PTO days, flexible scheduling are all handled with more efficiency.
  2. Encourages a greater sense of team work. Each team member knows the challenges faced by the other staff members, since they perform all of the same functions.
  3. Results in a greater appreciation for the overall operation. It is much easier to see how important each step is to the experience the patient perceives.
  4. Provides a valuable way to identify situations where training, coaching and/or rewards and praise may be warranted.
  5. Prepares the employees with leadership abilities for management roles

I have recently had several experiences at different doctor’s practices and I always take notice of the care I receive. I will always prefer the office where the person who answers the phone tells me their name, the person performing tests tells me in advance what they are doing and what to expect and I love when I have the same person moving me through the process. The practices at the other spectrum have employees that will not even look up from what they are doing when you enter. They silently (professionally, but silently) go through the paces of each of the tests or measurements they perform engendering no sense of goodwill. They will end up with patients that dread going there or worse, stop going there.

As a matter of efficiency, you are much better equipped to handle rush periods, staff shortages and personnel issues if everyone in the office is held to the same standard and can perform the same tasks. But the greatest impact it has is on the elevated level of patient care. Your patients will leave your practice feeling very well cared-for and when that happens you feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction.

People First, Always!

If you are an IDOC Select or Advisor member, you have a trusted partner with the resources to help you get past the most stubborn obstacles. It would be my pleasure to speak with you about these issues or any others that the IDOC Consulting Team can help you with.

Pat Basile

IDOC Optical Management Consultant

Patricia Basile
Optical Management Consultant
Pat Basile has extensive experience in sales, customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has had great success in developing and implementing growth plans, providing training and leadership to achieve greater sales and productivity results. She believes that the consumer is much better served by the personal care provided by small, independent and caring optometric practices. Pat will listen to your concerns and help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include training and setting goals for sales and customer service, inventory management and frame board management.
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