Part 2 of Dr. Timothy Nichols's interview with Dr. Jim Marbourg. In this episode, the two discuss the OD-MD relationship.
Dr. Jim Marbourg joins Dr. Tim Nichols to discuss selling your practice.
Dr. Nowakowski is both an OD and a Ph.D. Dr. Nowakowski received the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Arts degrees, both in mathematics, from the University of Miami. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 1975 and a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics in 1989, also from UAB. Following nearly 40 years of faculty service at UAB, Dr. Nowakowski retired in 2014 as Dean of UAB School of Optometry. He continues to serve as the only Optometrist on the National Eye Institute’s National Ophthalmic Disease Genotyping and Phenotyping Network (eyeGENE) Steering Committee.
What is the most exciting thing about a new year? The hope that maybe “everything will be different this year”, right? Well hope is the key word in that sentence. Hope is a great thing to have. It keeps you positive, gives you something to look forward to, and provides the potential needed for change. The problem is, hope is not something that provides results.
Most people get so excited in December as they look forward to the changes they are planning to implement in January. Sometimes people even use the end of December as a time to let off the gas and use the excuse that “it’s ok because January first, everything will be different”. Let’s discuss the typical thought process for a new year and some ways to avoid the pitfalls.
The Goal Setting Period
Plans have begun. Inspiration has struck and you are planning to make your practice more efficient, so you can make more money this year. That is a great idea. You know the 4 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important, so you are ready. You have decided on goals that are measurable and have shared your goals with your team. Everyone is onboard.
Avoid the February 1st Trap
The next thing people generally do is: ..the same thing they did last year.
The ball was rolling for a few weeks and then all of the sudden that excitement wore off. Then, because the daily processes didn’t evolve with the goals that were set, your team slips back into old habits.
A study by the New York Post says “It’s official: Feb. 1 is the day we call it quits on our New Year’s resolutions, according to new research. A new poll of 2,000 Americans found that it takes just 32 days for the average person to finally break their resolution(s) — but 68% report giving up their resolutions even sooner than that.”(New York Post, 2020).
Why does this happen? Well, you can blame it on your brain. The brain doesn't like change. When change takes place, whether it is good or bad, your brain automatically tries to protect you from it. It may seem like you are set up to fail. Well, not necessarily. If you can push through that adjustment period and create new habits, there is still hope.
How to Be Successful All Year
There is a lot working against your success. Hoping that one night (the night of December 31st) will magically change who you are is a common mistake. Instead of looking at the type of things you want to do, look at the type of person you want to be. If you want to be a better leader for your practice, so your team will follow you all year, then find people to surround yourself with that will help inspire you all year, not just in January.
Two ways that you can be sure to make it a little easier on yourself this year are to create a process and use the right tools.
Create a Process for Your Time
The most successful people, no matter their profession, have a daily process. When you leave time subject to change, you are leaving room for doubt. Set your day in stone to eliminate that doubt. Doubt is what causes you to evaluate your time. When you start evaluating your time, you let in the voice that says it is okay to “skip it, just for today”. That little harmless phrase is probably the most harmful phrase in everyone's vocabulary.
When creating a process, be sure to consider your personal strengths and weaknesses. Are you more productive during certain times of the day? Do you work better alone or with a team? Ask yourself these questions so you can design a process that accentuates your skillset, not one that works against it.
If one of your goals is to be more involved in the financial aspects of your practice, you know you need to carve out some time in your day to look at reports from your EHR software. If you like to read in the morning and feel like you are ready for a nap in the afternoon, schedule this activity in the early part of your day. If you make your process work with your strengths, you will be ahead of the rest.
Get the Tools To Help You Get the Job Done
The next thing that will help you ensure that you don’t become a February 1st-er is using the right tools. Think of it this way, if you want to start jogging, you need the best tennis-shoes so your feet are protected and supported right? The same applies to your practice. If you want to start implementing practice growth techniques or you want to change your schedule so you can take more personal time this year, you need an EHR software that supports those goals.
Howard Partridge says “The kind of vehicles you use make it possible to go farther.” (Partridge, Chapter 9) This example is relevant in so many areas of life, specifically, your EHR software. Just like the process you create for your day should make it hard to stray from your goals, your EHR software should give you ALL of the tools you need to meet them.
Want a free Amazon gift card? Complete a Demo of Foxfire’s EHR software solution and you will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Let Foxfire help you avoid becoming a “February 1st-er”.
Gervis, Zoya. “The Average American Abandons Their New Year’s Resolution by This Date.” Nypost.com, 28 Jan. 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/01/28/the-average-american-abandons-their-new-years-resolution-by-this-date/.
Partridge, Howard. “Chapter 9: The Process Principle.” F.T.I.: Failure To Implement, Sound Wisdom, 2020.
You may be getting that feeling that everyone gets as the year comes to a close. Should I make changes personally?.. Financially?..Today, we are going to focus on setting goals for your practice and the four reasons why this is important.
Why is it important to have a purpose? This question may seem simple and fairly obvious, but the importance of actually answering it is often ignored.
“Goals are to your practice what road signs are to a highway. You can be assured that you are on the right road and making good progress towards your vision when you meet your SMART goals.” – Tim Nichols, O.D.
When you have a purpose, you are able to set goals that align with that purpose. If you have never really thought about your purpose much past “helping patients see”, then maybe it is time to think about it. You can start by asking yourself questions. What are my personal goals? When would I like to retire? What type of patients do I enjoy seeing? What type of cases do I like treating? Once you have answered some of these questions, you will be much closer to asking yourself the more specific questions that can help you to pinpoint your purpose.
Remember, your purpose can be as broad or narrow as you like, as long as it motivates you.
Now that you have identified (or re-identified) your purpose, making decisions that align with that purpose is easy. Well, maybe not easy, but easier?
Every practice owner can tell you that they are faced with decisions every day. Should we buy this? Should we upgrade that? Should we hire more help? Do we have too much help? Wouldn’t it be great to actually know where you are headed so you can think with your head and not just make a blind guess? A gut check is useful every once in a while, but impulsive decisions can lead to unnecessary stress and a waste of useful resources.
When you have a purpose, your decisions should align with that purpose. For example, if your purpose includes detecting vision issues early on in children, then, a decision to expand your selection of children’s frames might make more sense.
Remember, you are not on your own. Be sure to choose an EHR software that allows you access to accurate and easy-to-read reports. Then, you will always have additional information available to help guide your decisions. Reports are a great way to back up your decisions with data. Taking the time to review reports from your EHR software can not only help you understand where you were, but more importantly it can drive forward thinking.
Encourages Your Team
Setting goals is great, but if you don’t have a team in place to help you meet them, quite frankly, you won’t.
Sharing your goals with your employees is key. Not only will your employees better understand why you are asking them to track new information or change a process, these employees might have ideas to help you reach your goals. Listening to the people that interact with your patients, use your equipment, and help you run your practice is the easiest way to learn. Guess what? It’s FREE!
Something that business owners and managers often worry about is paying the staff extra to help meet goals. While money is a great motivator in business, not all rewards need to be monetary. The simple and exciting sense of accomplishment is the reward, after all. Remember, a jeans day and a pizza for lunch is easy and cheap as well. Another thing that often gets overlooked is the simplicity of encouraging words. They go a long way!
You know that feeling you get when you check something off your list? Why not have that feeling every day?
A great way to track your progress is by looking at data. Working all day and not knowing exactly what you have done or how much money you made (or especially how much money did it take you to make the money you made), can feel defeating. Putting tools in place to aid your decision making and help you understand your practice will show you the areas where you are meeting your goals and the areas where you are falling short.
Some people don’t like to look at the numbers closely because they are intimidated. What if I set a goal that I don’t reach? Think about it this way. What if your goal was to bring in fifty dollars more per patient? You set this goal and use your tools to monitor it. At the end of the year, you look at your revenue and see that you actually brought in twenty dollars more per patient. You may not have reached your goal, but you did grow and more importantly twenty is more than zero.
Don’t be afraid of your data. It is there to help you. By setting goals and making a plan, you were now able to increase your revenue by twenty dollars per patient, but you also learned. You now know what worked, what didn’t, and what you can continue to implement the following year and what adjustments might need to be made.
Look back at 2022 and be able to say, “Wow! This is where I started and this is where I am today.”
When you think of customer service, what comes to mind? Someone wearing a headset in a call center? Probably. What you should really be asking is: Do they know about your practice? Do they understand your workflow? Have they ever worked in the industry? Are they truly on your team? Dynamics in the eye care industry are always changing. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be helpful if everyone you include in your practice were working to help you reach your goals?
Let’s look at the answers to three questions: What should you expect? Are you getting it? And if you’re not, what can you do about it?
What should you expect?
Is it reasonable to expect that someone answers the phone when you call for help? YES. Your EHR provider should be available to you when you need them. You should never have to wonder if you will get a callback. A customer service team should be reliable and, most importantly, available to support you.
Your customer service team should also be familiar with the way you run your practice. Optometrists spend their entire careers caring for patients and differentiating themselves from their competition. Your EHR’s support team should take the time to understand why you do things the way that you do and why that works for your practice.
When you are working with your EHR provider, you should be able to explain why you need something and because they have worked in the industry, they should be able to understand why that would help you. The technology should always be growing to meet your needs, but if the understanding between the practice and the customer service team isn’t there, the technology won’t match its clients’ needs for long.
There will always come a time when you request something that isn’t built yet, or you ask a question that hasn’t been asked. The optometry EHR solution that you choose to team up with should not only be willing to take your requests, but they should be willing to explore options to help find you a solution. They should truly be on your team and work to help you reach your goals.
Ready to Grow Your Practice with Foxfire?
Are you getting it?
You have expectations. Are they being met? Time and time again, complaints surround customer service. “I can’t get anyone to call me back!” said the frustrated office manager as an upset patient stands in front of them. Why is this?
Many EHR companies have sold out to venture capital. The company is bought and sold and each time this happens critical areas of the company suffer. In order to look attractive to a buyer, a company will cut its expenses. They put a stop to research and development or cut back customer service. These are key areas for a successful EHR company. Without R & D, how will your practice be staying current in the industry? With limited to no customer service, how will you get the help you need so you don’t run into workflow stoppages?
As a business owner, it is critical to think about how you are spending your money. Are you getting a return on your investment? Your EHR software partner should be able to provide you with an evolving product and the support to use it to its fullest. If you are not getting these things from your software, it’s time to think about what you can do about it.
What can you do about it?
If you are one of the many practice owners that are realizing that a big change is in your future, don’t be overwhelmed. Understand that the time and money you could be losing with inefficient software or a software partner that doesn’t really have your back is a much higher cost than taking the time to search for a new EHR software partner.
Switching software is a huge task and it affects your entire practice. However, a few weeks of adaptation to something that will help you thrive is a far better use of resources than continuing with an EHR software that is slowing you down or might not be there for you in the future.
If you are considering a search for a better solution, remember to set standards, don’t accept less, and take action.
Start your search by setting standards
Make a wish list of things that must be part of your practice. Is your goal to track sales?, give a thorough exam?, monitor growth?, lower your A/R?, collect more from patients at time of service?, complete everything in one software without logging into multiple platforms? Or is your goal all of the above and more?
Don’t think about price or even about the other software options you have heard of. Just determine what your practice needs to succeed and grow.
Don’t accept less than you deserve
Not only do you want your business to thrive, but you want your patients to enjoy their experience. Don’t compromise. If your patients are happy, your staff will be happy. The key to keeping your patients happy is working within a predetermined amount of time that your patient has set in their mind before they even walk through your door. Your software should not slow down their experience, it should enhance it.
It is important to do some research and it never hurts to ask questions. Talk to your colleagues or schedule some demos. See what type of impression you get from the person giving the demo. They should be knowledgeable and excited to show you what they have to offer, but also have the integrity to answer your questions honestly. It is also important to visit the company’s website. Is it current? Is it modern? If it is not up-to-date, then that might cause you to question whether or not the software is current.
Most importantly, don’t wait. The longer you work in an environment that is not supporting your goals, the longer it will take you to reach them!
What makes FoxFire EHR more efficient?
When searching for an EHR provider, a major point of emphasis is the ability to quickly and easily document an exam. The closer you can resemble a paper chart the better. The faster you can enter information the better. The fewer tabs and clicks you have to navigate, the better. FoxFire EHR is built specifically with these ideals in mind. Our system works to simplify navigation, reduce clicks and streamline the exam to fit the doctor’s style. But don’t just take our word for it.
Read some of our client reviews to see how its impacted practices and watch the quick snapshot below to see the different efficiency features in action.
Some of the highlighted Features Include:
Highlighted Fields for Specific Exam Types
Automation Speeds up Workflow
Fast Plans and Doctor’s Letters
Interested in seeing more? We’ve got quick drawing tools, easy-view DICOM images and more! Schedule a full demo today and we’ll show you our complete system.
EHR software can be thought of as a practice’s nervous system. It affects everything! When looking at something this important, there are many factors to consider. However, it is easy to get distracted by a “smokin’ deal”. How much are you willing to trade for a lower price? In the end, is the price really lower? Let’s look at the importance of choosing the right EHR for your practice.
Know what you are paying for.
There are many Optometry EHR companies out there making all sorts of claims. It is important to know what is really included when you are making this extremely important purchase.
Let’s paint a picture. You know you need to make a change because there is something missing in your practice’s current EHR system. So, you start the search. Maybe you ask your colleagues and hear some horror stories of their dealings with various other companies. You become skeptical, and perhaps even hesitant to switch EHR’s. more skeptical.
Next, you hit up Google and start searching things like “best optometry ehr” or “optometry ehr software”. Now, you are being flooded by companies that claim they can do it all for only X amount of dollars each month. You think, wow that’s a deal.
Let’s check this out a little more. Here is where you stop, and really put pen to paper. You know as a consumer that you shouldn’t even have to ask for certain features like image management, remit posting, or even training right? Wrong! Many companies out there will charge you separately for these things. In fact, some companies will even charge you for training!
You find a company online that says they can do it all for little cost. At first, this sounds believable, but when digging deeper, you soon realize that that little cost isn’t so little. Now, you find that you need to pay separately to process claims.
Okay, that’s not terrible. Oh wait. You also need to pay an extra fee to use e-prescribing. After three or four more of these extra “little” charges, that less expensive option turns into just as expensive an option as the other EHRs, if not more expensive!
Remember, cheaper doesn’t always mean better and we can agree that it definitely doesn’t mean less expensive.
Ready to Grow Your Practice with Foxfire?
Why are you trying to find important features yourself?
When searching for an EHR, ask yourself if the company will support your goals by providing the tools you need to achieve them. Foxfire EHR partners with a variety of vendors that will support your goals.
Our software was not only built for optometrists, but with input from optometrists and their staff. It is important to us that we provide a product that not only meets the needs of our doctors, but our opticians, technicians, scribes, billers, and front desk staff.
Foxfire is an EHR company that prides itself on transparency. We won’t promise you the moon and charge you for every star along the way. Our monthly fee includes everything. Yes, you heard that right. Everything.
Are you interested in learning more about a company that takes the guesswork out of your software search? Let’s talk about how we can help you with the most important decision you can make for your practice.
Say Goodbye to EHR Frustrations & Hello to More Patients
There are too many windows and tabs. It doesn’t fit my practice. It’s so slow.
Any of these sound familiar? If you’ve been using an EHR system for a while now, chances are you’ve been frustrated a time or two. Whether it’s poor workflow or missing features, a bad EHR can slow you down and take time away from your patients. And aren’t they the whole reason you started practicing in the first place?
Here’s the thing though – EHR doesn’t have to be frustrating. In fact, our clients find it can actually improve their practice in a number of ways. From increased patient load to smoother office workflow, a good EHR system puts your practice on track and gets you back to what matters, patient care.
Let’s take a look at the leading EHR frustrations we’ve encountered, plus tips for picking a system to help prevent them.
The EHR is so slow – there’s poor workflow and inefficient data entry.
Speed is often one of the most common complaints of EHR software. Not only can you encounter frustrations with internet connections and desktop applications, but the system in and of itself may not be configured to optimize data entry. Navigating through a complicated system and entering duplicate data is redundant and time consuming.
The solution – Look for an EHR with workflow designed specifically for eye care and data management that optimizes documentation. FoxFire is designed to follow common practice workflow while boasting automated entry, custom fast plans and quick chart completion to speed up the entire process.
We can’t customize the system – we’re stuck trying to make our practice fit the EHR.
Every practice is different. There is no one size EHR that fits all. If you’re unable to customize your system to your exam or documentation style, you’re never going to get the most out of your EHR.
The solution – Look for an EHR with easy and complete customization capabilities. You want an EHR that you can fit to your practice style, not the other way around. FoxFire offers easy, on-the-fly customization throughout the entire system. From drop-down menus to complete patient plans, you build the EHR so that you are successful.
The system is not built for eyecare – we’re missing key features and it’s clear it was not designed with the end-user in mind.
A lot of EHR providers design a system without input from the end-user. More often than not, it’s a general system built for use by a wide variety of specialties. While it may work, it lacks the tools eyecare providers need and doesn’t function with the user in mind. A poor user experience can make the entire system fail.
The solution – Start by looking for an EHR provider built specifically for eyecare. Then see if they offer user input and feedback in their design process. To keep improving, the company needs to focus attention on what their clients need and want out of the system. For FoxFire, we start with a system built specifically for eyecare and then continue upgrading based on client feedback. We welcome and encourage providers to submit requests or opinions on design, usability, features and more as we look to continually meet and exceed their expectations.
The imaging is poor – the imaging is slow and we’re limited in what we can do with it.
High quality imaging allows providers to better manage patient care. Without a system that offers it, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Not only that, but if you’re wasting time waiting for images and not able to properly document, you’re losing a key tool for monitoring patient progress.
The solution – Look for an EHR with high quality imaging capabilities and the ability to connect your devices. FoxFire offers DICOM capable imaging built directly into the system. You can quickly upload images direct from your integrated devices and utilize a bevy of tools for viewing, annotating and diagnosing.
It’s time to say goodbye to EHR frustrations and say hello to more patients. At FoxFire Systems Group, we work daily to improve our system and service to optimize our clients’ success. If you’re ready to see how we can boost your patient load and eliminate the hassle of EHR, contact us today.