Rebuilding After Loss

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Shortly after opening my new practice location, I lost an employee to COVID. My staff is very close, so losing this employee was like losing a member of our family. Despite our grief, we still had to keep our new practice going, including learning how to fill in the many gaps left by his parting.

As an OD, my focus has been primarily on caring for my patients. When we lost our employee, I quickly had to learn how to do things like billing, using our EHR, and training new employees. Not knowing where to start, I reached out to our VSP representative to see if there were tools available to help us navigate this difficult time. He quickly jumped in, pointing me to resources available through VSP Premier Edge and reaching out to the different business areas at VSP for assistance.

An immediate need was to get a handle on day-to-day tasks like submitting claims and billing. We had recently moved to Eyefinity Practice Management, an integral component of our business that I didn’t know how to use. Our VSP rep set up one-on-one consultations with Eyefinity so I could comfortably use the platform and train my new employees on it. This was especially critical during the COVID lockdown, when we needed to securely access health records remotely to stay connected with patients, dispense products, and triage emergencies. I had one patient during that time with a retinal detachment, and because we could access her information in the cloud, we were able to quickly get her the care she needed.

To help with training and onboarding new employees, our VSP rep directed us to Premier Edge Training and Education, an education platform free to Premier Edge practices like ours. Premier Edge Training and Education includes doctor-led webinars and training on a variety of topics relevant to our entire practice. As an OD, I especially benefited from the free CE opportunities and the diabetes education, which provided us with an American Diabetes Badge upon completion. This badge, listed on the VSP doctor directory, highlights our commitment to patients’ overall health and lets them know we have taken the extra time to provide the specialized care they need. Coupled with the Premier Edge iindicator, the badge enhances our visibility and increases the flow of patients to our practice. It’s been a great marketing tool for us, especially when we lacked the resources to promote the new practice.

One of the reasons I was drawn to private practice optometry is my love of fashion. I have always loved picking out different frames and brands and am proud of the optical selection we offer. After the loss of my employee, I had to learn the logistical aspects of ordering and stocking our frame board, so I reached out to Marchon. Their VP actually came to my practice and spent a day with me getting me up to speed! And, our rep from Premier Edge partner Kering Eyewear reached out to me to help me take advantage of all of the offers we had available to us.

In my practice, a big differentiator is the family atmosphere. I think that's really felt by our patients when they walk in the door, whether they're here for a red eye or for a new pair of glasses. They give us high ratings on social media with comments like “Very family oriented…every patient is treated with care and time,” and we recently won “Washtenaw County Best Optometrist” for the second year in a row. As eye see it, our patients and staff are family, and through their support and the relationships we have built, we can get through even the toughest of times together.

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