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The patient capture rate: Using the unseen to combat the invisible


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, 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.

Founded in the mid-1990s, my consulting firm has always used the Internet to keep in touch with clients. I don’t think much about HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It was created in 1991 and upgraded eight years later. HTTP/2 was published in 2015.

Just like your practice, the computer upgrades my firm has enjoyed are countless. My expectation of how quickly data is transported is shaped by these upgrades and is measured in nanoseconds. Data files along unseen tracks.

Last month, I blogged about your changing patients and the link between busy lives and computer use. My business, just like your practice, wants fast computers and instant, streaming videos.

If we are truthful, our perception of time has changed. Time flies along invisible tracks and not a minute ever comes back.


We all see waiting as a curse. Time, and its passing, is unseen. Long waits impact patients’ perception of office efficiency and give optical less time to present premium products. Premium products represent higher net to you and provide the patient with unsurpassed vision clarity. 

There is a definite correlation between patient wait-time and a practice’s optical capture rate. I spoke to a doctor today who discovered patients in his office spend 50 minutes of door-to-door time waiting.

Your employees say, “it can’t be helped” and point to ICD-10, technology upgrades and documentation.

While I agree that today’s employees are being asked to perform in an environment that relies on HTTP/2, I don’t agree that longer-than-ever waits “can’t be helped.”

Increasing workplace efficiency is not merely a question of doing more work in less time, it is also a question of focusing so that you produce quality work with less effort. Varied factors can influence workplace efficiency.


To feel enthusiastic about countless tasks, remember the value. If everyone on the team knows exactly what you want and expect from each of them, they will be better able to focus on what’s important and more likely to excel. Too many managers aren’t sure what they want to accomplish. In nearly every case, such confusion lays the foundation for underperformance.

In group time-management presentations I have used two, 1-gallon, wide-mouthed jars and pre-measured rocks, sand, and water to illustrate how intentional actions impact employee’s ability to produce efficiency.

First, I fill the jar with the pre-measured sand and water. Is the jar full? I ask the audience. Everyone agrees with the obvious.  I try to add the pre-counted number of rocks and the water overflows.

Beginning again, I begin with the big items. I add the same number of rocks to the second, identical, jar. I then shake the same amount of sand around the rocks and add the water. The contents remain in the jar. Nothing overflows.

What is the point of this illustration? I ask the attendees. One eager person always says: “No matter how full your day is, if you try really hard you can always fit one more thing in!”

No, I reply. That’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.


What are the “big rocks” in eyecare?

1.     Your patients’ ability to see clearly in varying degrees of light;

2.     Preventing blindness;

3.     Identifying vision-threatening conditions of the eye

4.     Managing diseases of the eye

5.     A job well done?


Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. If you sweat the little stuff (the sand) then you’ll fill your day with tasks to worry about and never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff that changes the quality of your patients’ lives (the big rocks).

Questions to consider:

  • Are there any areas of your practice where you obsess over the “sand and water?” 

  • As a leader, are you inspiring others to put in the “BIG ROCKS” of eyecare and excellent optics for all patients?

  • What might you do differently to enlist others in the pursuit of excellence?


Donna Suter (423-400-3626; suter4pr@donnasuterconsulting.com) is an internationally recognized authority on the unique practice management issues that face dispensing eyecare practitioners.    

Suter Consulting Group         www.donnasuterconsulting.com


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