This article originally appeared in Vision Monday DBA.
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.—As Pacific Eye Surgeons, a comprehensive eyecare provider on the Central Coast of California, added locations, optometric services and dispensaries over a 10-year period, internal communication between business systems grew increasingly complex, said Amie L. DuMong, ABOC, business development/marketing and optical manager for the practice.
“We accumulated more software as we expanded. Soon, we had different systems for electronic health records, scheduling, and billing; then along came optical with its own needs,” she said. The practice made several futile attempts to install optical software that would communicate with their other practice management systems and simultaneously track their retail business. One unsuccessful installation took optical offline for almost nine months, according to DuMong. Finally, after a painful period of trial and error, DuMong brought in My Vision Express to manage the optical department.
As practice productivity and internal system communication improved with the My Vision Express deployment, DuMong continued looking for other areas to increase office efficiency while enhancing the patient experience. She would find her next opportunity in the way Pacific Eye managed its growing contact lens business.
System Integration Saves Time and Enhances Patient Experience
DuMong first saw the CLX contact lens ordering, management and patient marketing system at Vision Expo West in the fall of 2014 and quickly recognized the value of integration with My Vision Express. “When the representatives showed me that we could have a contact lens database imported into our system, which meant that we didn’t need to enter all the variations of all the contact lenses ourselves, I realized that this feature alone would save us hours, maybe even days, of work,” said DuMong. She soon discovered there was even more to be gained.
Ordering contacts with most practice management systems can be a tedious process with ample opportunity for error. For example, opticians using My Vision Express needed to click between the software and a distributors’ ordering site, place the order, obtain a reference number, click back into My Vision Express and record the order number in two places.
“With CLX integration, our opticians now go into My Vision Express, enter the order screen, and with a click of a button, have the ability to drop-ship the order to the practice, the patient’s home address or a custom address. Our system now interfaces with the distributor’s website, so it’s all seamless,” DuMong said. “The whole process is done in a matter of seconds. The reference and tracking numbers are right there, and we know when the lenses will arrive.”
Saving Time While Improving Accuracy
DuMong was careful about selecting a team leader, adaptable to new ideas, who would train opticians on the new ordering process. “To successfully bring a new technology and procedure to multiple locations and opticians, it has to be easy and non-threatening, or you risk low buy-in during implementation.”
The first four opticians trained noticed a difference immediately and began to quantify the time savings. The CLX system routinely eliminated four steps and 15 to 20 clicks per order. In total, it reduced the optician time by saving an average of 10 minutes per contact lens order. DuMong said, “When we added CLX, the opticians embraced the change. The team leader called to tell me how thrilled she was that I had made their jobs easier. I was thrilled that the time saved could be better spent enhancing the patient experience.”
After the initial testing went so well, Pacific Eye implemented CLX system ordering in all their optical locations. They soon realized an added bonus to the increased efficiency. “Because our old ordering process was tedious and required multiple steps, busy opticians would occasionally go to one site and order the lenses, then get distracted, called away, or just forget to put it in the other system,” said DuMong.
“Some days contact lenses would arrive in the office, and we couldn’t track the order. On a few occasions we actually dispensed orders to patients without collecting fees and lost revenue simply because of a cumbersome system.”
To prevent lost revenue, DuMong said she would sometimes spend hours comparing statements. “Did the patient get billed? Did the practice account for cost and revenue? I’d have to reconcile revenue reports, patient records and distributor invoices accounting for thousands of dollars of business, just to make sure orders were processed correctly and we remained profitable.
“It could take me two or three hours to process a single vendor statement. Now we don’t have those errors. It’s saving me a lot of time, and we’re getting the revenue right up front.”
Detailed Reporting Helps Profitability
DuMong said CLX not only minimizes human error, but it also provides detailed reports to help her make critical decisions about inventory and marketing. “I have immediate, real time access to the contact lens fitting behavior of each one of our locations, doctors and opticians. That kind of data was never readily available before CLX and is important when a rep is trying to tell me what to stock, and where.
“Optical is a very different business from the medical origins of this practice. The doctors buy equipment that is used over and over and depreciates. In optical, we’re a buy-to-sell business. We spend a lot of money in inventory and then have to resell the product to make a profit. If we can’t make smart decisions quickly, we won’t be profitable.”
Comparative pricing reports, another CLX feature, can also help a practice maintain a competitive edge. “These reports alert me to changes in rebates, UPP prices and online competition so we can maintain profitability and provide patient value.” As DuMong said, “CLX does a lot more for me than make ordering easier.”