#23: Optimizing Practice Workflow

April 17, 2016

Although new technologies and therapeutic breakthroughs have enhanced diagnostic and treatment capabilities throughout ophthalmology, their introduction has expanded the pool of patients needing professional eye care.

Although new technologies and therapeutic breakthroughs have enhanced diagnostic and treatment capabilities throughout ophthalmology, their introduction has expanded the pool of patients needing professional eye care. This, coupled with the aging of the overall population, has put enormous pressure on the clinician community to provide the same level of (if not better) overall care for their patients despite tightening schedules and more complex therapeutic regimens. 

Ophthalmic technician carries out an optical coherence tomography examination with SPECTRALIS®. Consider, for instance, the care of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Approximately 500,000 new cases of wet AMD are diagnosed globally each year. Twenty years ago, there were no effective treatments for these patients, so ophthalmologists were not regularly seeing patients to administer and assess therapy. With the introduction of anti-VEGF therapy, however, millions of patients with wet AMD around the world now receive frequent injections to halt or reverse the progression of their disease, accompanied by even more frequent diagnostic imaging exams. This has created an extraordinary challenge both for general ophthalmologists and retina specialists, who are all charged with managing these patients.

A number of strategies have been incorporated into ophthalmology practice to keep up with these challenges and optimize the patient experience. Practices are increasingly rethinking the physical layout of their space to maximize practice efficiency as new technologies are purchased and introduced. For instance, for patients with wet AMD, separate lanes are introduced to tightly integrate clinical examinations, diagnostic imaging, and treatment.

Patient scheduling is being examined and tweaked to best fit into the preferences of providers (ie, Do you prefer more challenging patients in the morning, afternoon, or mixed in throughout the day?). Patients are also being asked to complete information prior to their visit to maximize face time with providers.

A 2012 report from the Medical Group Management Association in the United States highlighted the importance of an efficient practice workflow in maximizing productivity and profitability. The report showed that those practices which excelled did so in 4 areas: profitability and cost management;  productivity, patient capacity, and staffing; accounts receivable and collection; and patient satisfaction.