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    The secret to reducing staff turnover

    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.

    Is staff turnover holding you back? In some markets, healthcare personnel turnover is five times higher than unemployment. The average total turnover rate reported for healthcare employers in 2016 is 20.1%, up from 19.2% in 2015, according to Compdata Surveys’ national survey, Compensation Data Healthcare.

    Today’s patients are customers who have a choice. When your people leave, patient care—what I call customer service—suffers. Everything the doctor does in the practice is connected with tasks completed by other people. You and your team are significantly interdependent.

    That is especially in eye care, what patients want most is consistent performance. Patients want service and care that they can depend on. More specifically this means:

    1.      Do what you say you are going to do.
    2.      Do it when you say you’re going to do it.
    3.      Do it right the first time.
    4.      Get it done on time.

    All four of these suffer when someone on your team is in training mode. Your job, as management, is to keep individuals on your team performing at a sufficiently high level in order to accomplish the practice’s mission. If you have a viable mission statement and business plan, use it as a motivator. People like to feel that work matters.

    Explain your practice’s plan so that employees see both the big picture and how their actions can help make the plan a reality. As employees appreciate the importance of their contributions, the plan can become a driving force in total team accomplishment.

    Your plan becomes like the playbook for a team. It’s a lot easier to win when everyone knows his/her part as well as understands the game. Each department in the practice feeds off another and collaborates for bigger results than any one department can reach on its own. Front desk is tasked with keeping the book filled and capturing patient demographics and pay information. Clinic technicians add to raw data collection by entering SOAP data into the EHR system. All of this must be completed quickly and efficiently for the doctor to see the patient on time.

    When everyone is operating at peak performance levels, doctor and staff have time to educate the patient about eye health issues as well as overview spectacle lens technology recommendations that will help the patient see clearly in his or her most challenging situations.

    This is much like a sports team seeking to maximize its efficiency. Think back to last fall and the Chicago Cubs magical ride to the World Series championship. They were able to win because the parts (players) overachieved as they together overcame a century of haplessness and inefficiency to capture the greatest prize in baseball. It could not have been possible had not each player bought in to the possibility of winning.

    How does front desk and technician efficiency impact optical growth?

    Imagine your technicians taking time to explain spectacle lenses options when refracting, or an employee that comments on the full-time wearability of a frame when the prescription is read. And, yes, imagine a technician who walks the patient to the optical.

    When your staff transitions patients from the clinic to optical in a timely manner and optical staff are available to greet them promptly, patients choose convenience over price. What this means is that greater clinic staff efficiency translates into a higher average optical ticket.

    A recent study1 in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people value their time more than money. In a series of six studies, the researchers asked more than 4,600 participants questions such as whether they would prefer to pay more rent for an apartment with a short commute or a pay less rent for an apartment with a long commute. Just more than half of respondents said they valued their time over money.

    Choose personnel carefully

    Donna Suter
    Donna Suter is president of Suter Consulting Group.

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