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    The 'intelligent' way to train staff

    How practices can make the solar eclipse into the best staff training

    Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Donna Suter, president of Suter Consulting Group. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.

    Last month, when the sky turned dark, those in its path were reminded that some events are a force of nature and worthy of our attention. I suggested closing offices for two hours, enjoying the spectacle, and making the event tax-deductible by adding a training with the following topic: How to Make A Patient for Life.  

    I confess, as the eclipse grew closer, I heard Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler crooning the 80s song "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Songwriter Jim Steinman was onto something. Today’s successful eyecare practice will only be successful if patients consider that coming to us for eyecare and optical product is a need. I want patients to feel the emotion expressed in Steinman’s words and look forward to making his or her vision ‘right’ with excellence of care and quality spectacle lenses or the latest contact lens technology.

    It’s really simple, just like the eclipse, patient perception is a force that shouldn’t be ignored. And just like Steinman’s song, most of your patients were born before this May 1983 release skyrocketed to the top of the charts.

    What this means to you is that your patient excellence training should focus more on how to build a human connection while entering data into a terminal than how to use the latest and greatest diagnostic equipment. People over the age of 35 are either looking for life balance (in the case of a Millennial) or that respect he or she had in the professional arena before retirement (in the case of Baby Boomers.)

    In today’s HR lingo, this type of training is often marketed under titles that include the moniker ‘Emotional Intelligence’ or EQ. Cutting-edge research into EQ has shown that it plays a critical role in higher productivity, performance, and job satisfaction. Healthcare professionals who have a high level of emotional intelligence are more confident, more capable, and earn greater respect from patients. They are also better able to stay calm, flexible, and focused when a patient is upset and starts yelling; basically, when panic threatens to set in.

    As it relates to patient care, being more emotionally intelligent means your staff is efficiently moving the patient through the process and simultaneously looking for opportunities to improve a patient’s perception of care. Because employees and doctors may not have anything in common with the patient receiving care, EQ training increases awareness and understanding of how and why others behave the way they do.

    For example, eccentric patients really don’t all decide to book exams around a full moon. Eyecare team members with high EQ are adept at using empathy and constructive communication to create a collaborative, cooperative connection with patients. Even during a full moon, employees with a high EQ tend to be flexible, adaptive, self-motivated, and confident. It’s because those high-EQ folks on your team understand the importance of self-control in high-stress situations as well as how their ability to understand and influence patients sets the tone for the entire patient visit.

    Front desk 

    Donna Suter
    Donna Suter is president of Suter Consulting Group.

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