What Does Your Pre-Test Room Say About Your Practice?

THE STORY BEGINS
We have been a part of many acquisitions and office overhauls, and one of the first things that begs for our attention is that often overlooked area of the office… the pre-test room.
If the annual eye exam experience is a story, the pre-test room is your opening chapter. It is here that you are setting the tone, building the anticipation, introducing important elements of
health and wellness, and arranging the narrative for the rest of the patient’s journey through your clinic.
Perhaps that is romanticizing the process a bit, but we take the clinical environment very seriously. Optometry doesn’t get the respect it deserves in many cases and as much as we hate to admit it, we are often the ones to blame. Too many times we have walked into a new office that we are supporting and the opening chapter of the eye exam story is a rough one.Instead of clean, clinical, and clear, we often see cords, clutter, and confusion. Visuals of scary eye diseases thumb tacked or taped to the wall at different heights. There may be twenty feet of
data cable tangled up on the floor where only six feet was needed. Pamphlets, upon pamphlets… pens… cleaning supplies… more pens… booster chairs… fake plants with layers of dust. Finally, our favorite final touch, a few hand-written warnings, instructions, and directions
taped in various places that were written years ago to complete the ambiance. We can all do better.
GET A FRESH SET OF EYES OR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE.
Here is the test. If you were asked to describe what you think of your pre-test room, and your gut reaction is to say, “It’s fine,” then it is probably not fine. You see this room every day you are at the office. Many patients are seeing it for the first time. Even your loyal patients will only see it once every twelve to fifteen months. It is hard to see how it could be better.


● Invite a colleague over to your clinic to give you feedback on how your set-up is. Offer to provide the same service to him or her in return. Encourage them to be picky and brace yourself. If you can not pull that off in person, take advantage of the technology we all
have and give someone a video tour with your phone instead.
● Imagine if your favorite publication or local tv station wanted to feature your practice and film the pre-test experience for the world to see. What would you get rid of? What would you add?
● Involve your staff. Offer up a small prize or buy lunch for the person who could come up with a better patient flow that the staff would all agree on.
● Survey a few patients. Most will be impressed that you asked and honored to contribute. Offer a lens cleaning kit or travel contact lens solution kits as a Thank You. If you really want to be savvy, use a product like Survey Monkey or Google forms to e-mail them something to complete.

A FEW GUIDELINES THAT WE USE & IMPLEMENT
We know that not everyone has the perspective that we do. We get to see a different optometric clinic several times a week, and we can tell you which ones make us feel good and which ones don’t. As we’ve seen many great examples, here are some of the themes that we see that project optometry at it’s very best.
● If it doesn’t need to be there, then it doesn’t need to be there. The old visual field unit with the yellowed cover on it that is not even plugged in because no one knows if it works anymore – get rid of it.
● Nothing quite hurts the clinical presentation as a hand-written, taped over note or warning on the table or the equipment. Scrape it off. Get out the Goo Gone and rely on audio cues to your patient instead.

● Eliminate the bowl of spaghetti (I’m talking about all of those cords.). Take a few minutes to unplug and untangle all that is visible. Invest in the rubber floor covers to conceal those cords from the patient’s sight.
● Examine your patient flow. Are your tests arranged in such a way that the patient moves along in an easily understood direction? When your patient walks into the room, do they instinctively know where to go, or do they need to be directed every step of the way?
● If it’s on the wall, make it look like you mean it. Taking the taped or tacked poster and putting it in an inexpensive frame and hanging it properly on the wall makes a huge difference in appearance.
● Keep it SIMPLE. The less you have in the room, the better. It will be easier to clean and keep clean, and the patient will be focused on you or your technician – not the clutter.
AN EASY VALUE-ADD INVESTMENT TO MAKE
No, taking these steps is not going to increase your exam growth by 20%. It is not going to break your expense budget either. It may take a little bit of your time, a little elbow grease, and maybe a trip to Home Depot, but when you are done, you will no longer think that your pre-test
room “is fine.” The freshness you bring to this one spot will improve the way your technicians feel as well, and that in turn will be felt by your patient.
You want your pre-test room to clearly proclaim to your patient that you care about the details. You want it all to look intentional. You want them entering the exam lane already convinced that they are in a professional, clinical, caring environment.
If you want to build steady, reliable growth through referrals and have loyal patients who would never trust their eyecare to anyone but you, this is one easy step toward that goal.

Contact Ryan for a consultation.

Ryan Williams Senior Business ConsultantE: Ryanw@acuityconsultingpartners.com
M: 904-545-4465W: AcuityConsultingPartners.com

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