How patient relationship management technology transformed a practice
As Jason Lake, O.D. remembers it, one educated guess resulted in streamlining an outdated recall system, reducing staff time devoted to recall, providing a better response to “no-shows” and greatly enhancing patient communication.
“I bought Solutionreach before it came to Cleinman [as a sponsor],” noted the 6-year Cleinman Performance Network member. “This program looked like it offered what we needed, and I decided in 2010 to give it a chance. The payoff has been tremendous.”
Dr. Lake and his wife, Susan Lake, O.D., own Eyecare Specialties in central Missouri. This four-doctor, two-location practice had what Dr. Lake calls an “intricate” recall system.
“We devoted two full-time people to recall, using snail-mail, email and the telephone to make sure the schedule was kept full. It was very intensive. We are talking a lot of time on the telephone, and a big expenditure on postage,” he said.
Even though the old recall system was burdensome in cost and staff time, Dr. Lake knew that recall was essential to maintaining Eyecare Specialties’ current caseload and supporting future growth. He was already looking for a solution when he became acquainted with Solutionreach and several competing services.
“I looked at DemandForce and some others. Solutionreach was the most integrated system, and it was compatible with OfficeMate, our practice management software,” he said.
Shortly after implementing Solutionreach, Dr. Lake noticed a drop-off by 50% to 70% of staff time spent on recall phone calls. He has estimated a reduction of one-third to one-half full-time equivalent. The savings on postage was welcomed, as well.
Dr. Lake noticed another benefit that is directly apparent to patients:
“We are now communicating with patients in the way they prefer to communicate. For instance, I like email, but my wife likes texting. With Solutionreach we are reaching out in the way the patient prefers. The point of contact does not become a point of annoyance,” he said.
The office staff appreciates the ability to react quickly to “no-shows,” keeping the schedule as full as possible.
“We’ve seen a 30% to 40 % reduction in no-shows. When someone doesn’t show, we can text that person and find out if they are just running late, or if we need to reschedule. If needed, the staff can quickly access their ‘wait list’ and send out a message announcing an immediate opening via text. We often fill the spot, or at least we’re not waiting on someone who is not coming. It allows our staff of 28 to manage the office flow,” Dr. Lake said.
Texting came in handy when the unexpected happened. Snowfall isn’t unusual in Missouri, but when a blizzard shut down area roads and businesses, the office was able to quickly notify the entire patient base by text.
The practice makes full use of the SR Engage platform. Dr. Lake said patients seem to enjoy the “Happy Birthday” videos sent by the Eyecare Specialties staff. SR Engage allows patients to request an appointment through the practice’s Facebook page. The Active Presence feature monitors online reviews of the practice and alerts it to complaints.
“Patients are surprised to hear back from us. We usually find a way to make the patient feel good about us, and most importantly, we don’t have a patient out there who is raving mad,” Dr. Lake said.
He describes the integration between Solutionreach and OfficeMate as “seamless”; just one more benefit arising from that educated guess he took three years ago.
“We make our investment back just on the savings in postage. We double our investment back when you factor in the savings in staff time,” Dr. Lake noted. “And then there are the intangibles – the patients like it, and you look high tech and high touch
To compete in today’s healthcare industry and still have a practice to run in the near future, it is critical to be taking advantage of recent advances that have been made in patient relationship management. The profitability potential and time-saving efficiencies and are too significant to overlook.
Dr. Lake and his wife, Dr. Susan Lake, have enjoyed becoming a leader in the eyecare industry, while maintaining a positive business culture where his employees, vendors and patients feel at home. Outside of his Optometry practice, Eyecare Specialties, he also does practice management consulting, lectures and business appraisals for optometrists throughout North America. Dr. Lake has a strong commitment to his community and is an active member of the Rotary Club, Optimist International and the Chamber of Commerce.