Ontimesmanship' in practice

March 15, 2011

While practices pride themselves on the quality of care they deliver, many of those same practices get low marks for their quality of caring.

From an optician's standpoint, an ophthalmology practice can be divided into two parts; the medical practice and the dispensary that depends on it for referrals.

It is my experience, however, that many ophthalmologists and administrators are not aware of just how closely related are the two parts of the practice. I'd like to focus this article on just one aspect of the medical practice/dispensary connection.

I've invented my own word, "ontimesmanship." I define ontimesmanship as a practice's ability to do things on time. This includes seeing patients as scheduled.

Some practices that I visit almost always stay on time. Other clinics run hours behind almost every day. Why some clinics can and other clinics cannot stay on time is a subject for another day. For now, let's look at what happens when the clinic falls behind.

Patients hate to wait

Most of what affects the dispensary has to do with the patient's state of mind. To begin with, patients hate to wait. I know this because patients complain bitterly to me when I ask about their visit.

While practices pride themselves on the quality of care they deliver, many of those same practices get low marks for their quality of caring. From a patient's point of view, making them wait is disrespectful at best.

Viewed another way, providing excellent care is a good way for a practice to build its brand and grow. How, then, could any practice allow itself to do something that almost certainly will cause the patient to become angry and possibly fume?

Consider that patients have a clock in their heads. When they arrive at your practice, the clock gets set to the amount of time they think it should take to be seen. Patients budget a certain amount of time for their visit. If a patient is not able to leave the practice on time, that is, before the alarm clock sounds, three things will happen: