Finding the Silver Linings
There’s no question that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our practices and impacted our lives. But, as we head down the road to recovery, I must admit there are some positives that have come out of this pandemic.
For one, my practice embraced new technology and started using telemedicine. We had never used it before, but during the quarantine, we had the downtime to research different platforms and educate ourselves, using webinars and resources from the American Optometric Association (AOA), our state association, Premier Academy360, and other industry groups. It’s been really rewarding offering this option to patients. One patient I examined via telemedicine couldn’t stop raving about how I was able to look at her on video and figure out she had a tiny conjunctival foreign body. From her reaction, you would have thought I invented the internet! We’ve had such a positive experience with this technology that we will continue to offer it moving forward.
Another silver lining is that I’m able to spend more time with patients. Now that we’re open with a reduced patient load, there isn’t the stress to get through as many patients as possible on a given day. Now I get to spend time with each one, building upon the relationships we’ve established over the years. Interestingly, although our patient volume is down, our net revenue per patient has increased.
Because of the pandemic, we’ve made a number of additional changes that have been very beneficial to us and our patients. We now schedule glasses and contact lens dispensing and make repairs and adjustments by appointment only, eliminating the surprise factor of multiple people showing up at the same time, and allowing us to provide a more focused patient experience. We’ve also transitioned to shipping glasses and contacts to patients at no charge. Patients not only love this convenience, but it saves staff time and reduces potential COVID exposure. Lastly, we had the time during shelter-in-place to remodel our office, providing a better experience for patients and staff.
COVID-19 has definitely caused inconveniences for me and my practice. But it has also given me the opportunity to better myself personally and professionally and to strengthen my relationships. As I see it, the greatest positive has been the ability to adapt to hardship, acknowledge the silver linings, and create opportunities for an even brighter future.