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Maximize Your Resources: BSM Experts Weigh In
Question: Given that many of our practices are feeling like they have to do more with the same number — or, in some cases, less resources — what can they do to help overcome this?
Laura Baldwin, BSM Senior Consultant: It’s a matter of thinking differently and taking a critical look at everything we are doing today, and is there a different or better way to do it? We can make a process change, but then it impacts your people. I know there is a huge pain point around hiring and bringing in the right people into your organization, so even that requires a different way of thinking. We’re looking at different people coming into the organization, and how do we create a successful environment for them? So, it’s about how does our training need to look differently, our onboarding, what do our internal processes need to look like because trying to make providers more efficient or processes more efficient, there’s still that downward impact on the team that works in your organization.
Maureen Waddle, BSM Senior Consultant: We’re definitely challenged in the ophthalmic space. We’re having this increase in demand of services because of the aging population, and at the same time, our doctors are also retiring, and at the same time, we haven’t been producing more ophthalmologists; it’s been stagnate. On the other hand, optometry schools have opened up quite a bit. Over the course of my career, I’ve really seen this shift in understanding — and it’s the rule of efficiency, right? — that a person should only do the things that only they can do. So, if we integrate optometrists within our ophthalmic practices to shift some of that patient care so our ophthalmologists are free to do the things that only they can do, I think we’re really seeing practices truly embrace that concept. To Laura’s point, that means different training, different services from our people to do that. I think that is one of the key strategies over the past five years, in particular, I’ve really seen practices adopting. How about you, Kirk?
Kirk Mack, BSM Senior Consultant: I think there’s more of that. I think people who were early adopters with creating a combined or integrated ophthalmology and optometry practice have really tried to do exactly what you just described: Having the right people, doing what they need to do and what they are best at, and playing those roles. I still think there is a huge number of ophthalmologists, as you said, who are retiring and there aren’t new residency programs for the most part, so you’re right; the volume of doctors coming out is flat. I agree 100%. So, I think if you haven’t already gone out looking for optometrists, you have to. I think you even need to think a little further beyond that: physician assistants (PAs) and NPs. I wouldn’t say we’re seeing hundreds of them, but we’re seeing a handful here and there trickling into the specialty, so I think looking outside of your normal space to be able to have providers is huge. I think that’s really going to — I don’t know — make the most sense to me in terms of being able to handle the demand.
Maureen: That’s a great point, Kirk. Those PAs, I see them as being especially effective in working with oculoplastic surgeons.
Kirk: Yeah, you know we didn’t really talk about it specifically, but some of the other things that we can maybe do to handle the demand: Are there certain things that we can move out of the practice that we don’t have to do? We didn’t really get into that too much, and I’m not sure if we actually will, but that was one of the things that I made some notes on before the call. Are there certain things that we could outsource or remove some of the redundancies? When we were in Nashville, Maureen, I remember having a conversation about these bots that people were using to handle all these mundane type of tasks in their systems — just little things like authorization or posting payments or insurance cards being scanned and moving them into the system — things like that. Those might be the things that we can relieve and be able to handle more demand. Again, just really thinking creatively, as Laura explained.
WANT TO LEARN MORE? This Q&A was one of many featured in our Tackling Opportunities and Challenges: Responding to Ophthalmic Market Trends webinar. To access the webinar, log into your BSM Connection account. If you're not a Connection member, you can sign up today.