The Technology Spurring Efficiency and Contributing to 15% Revenue Growth
Your patients need the best of care and your practice needs the best in efficiency and profitability. We were fortunate to find technology solutions that allow me to meet both of those needs.
Here are the details on the instrumentation from Topcon Healthcare helping me take care to the next level while freeing up our support staff’s time to better serve patients and help me grow our practice.
Technology for a Practice Delivering Advanced Medical Eyecare
Most of the instrumentation in our practice is from Topcon Healthcare. We use the CV-5000S Digital Refraction System (including the KR-1 Autorefractor/Keratometer and CL-300 Lensmeter) in all eight exam lanes of our practice.
In addition, we use Topcon Slit Lamps with the DC-4 Digital Camera in each room, a CA-800 Corneal Analyzer with software employable in each lane, and the Maestro2 OCT.
The “why” behind these technology choices centers around patient care and patient perception. We want our patients to feel they’re getting the best eye exam they’ve ever had. We want our equipment to be state-of-the-art and memorable. When new technology becomes available, we embrace it and offer it to our patients.
Having cameras attached to each slit lamp enhances patient understanding of anterior segment issues. Being able to access review software in the lanes from the OCT or topographer helps to educate the patient and enhances trust. Corneal ulcers with their inherent pain command the attention and compliance of the patient. However, other findings such as corneal neovascularization may have to be seen to be believed. Patients appreciate watching areas of staining shrink with improvement of corneal abrasions.
We have never wanted a single patient to say there was something somewhere else that wasn’t available at our office. The trust of the patient is the single best thing we can cultivate. Having such high-quality technology, and sharing it with our patients, has helped us grow our practice consistently year by year. In addition, the support we have received from Topcon along the way has been exceptional and has made the implementation process easy. Having a trusted partner like Topcon that is there to support you whenever needed has been a key factor in our success.
Making a Technology Investment that Spurs Significant Growth
Our practice started cold in 2008 with just my wife, one employee and me. For the first six months, my wife worked at a Walmart location for a couple of days a week in addition to supporting our fledgling practice. Yet, within our first year, the practice was profitable and has grown every year since.
After five years, we doubled our original square footage to 2,500. After year seven, we had enough patient volume and profitability to triple our space, moving into the 7,500 square foot space we have now. We added a doctor and Saturday hours in 2020, and in 2021, we had 15 percent total revenue growth. The growth of the practice is, in large part, due to the technology we employed.
Better Technology = Better Efficiency & More Time to Serve Patients
The CV-5000 digital refraction system is a huge time-saver for our practice. Thanks to the integration with our EHR system, inputting data from the autorefractor, keratometer, lensmeter and final refractions for near and distance is done with just a few clicks of a mouse.
The Maestro OCT really enhances our practice – both by its ease of use and its accessibility in our exam lanes. When our staff can obtain information in seconds, we can spend more time discussing our findings with patients.
Too often, the emphasis is placed solely on the importance of freeing the doctor’s time. Many technicians have more patient encounters in a day than a doctor. Freeing technician time is just as important as freeing doctor time.
Any activity done primarily for the recording of data takes up valuable examination time. For example, if it takes a minute per patient for the technician to record data and they see 30 patients, they’ve spent 30 minutes playing with the keyboard. Several other patients could possibly be seen during this time.
Topcon technology enables us to reduce the time needed to capture and record data, giving both our doctors and support staff more time to interact with patients and ensure that all their questions have been answered and their needs have been met.
Gain Time to Better Educate Patients
Being able to have access to the Maestro OCT data so quickly is a huge advantage to my patients. In patients with pathology, being able to share images of the macula and disc to visualize the disease and monitor progression enhances compliance. The great thing about the eye is that most of the maladies and disease processes are there to be seen. When the patient can see what’s going on they better understand your diagnosis and treatment plan.
We can provide better care because I can establish a relationship with the patient through use of such excellent technology. I don’t have to think about the recording of data – the input – I can concentrate on disease processes and spend time talking with the patient. No one wants to watch a doctor stare at his computer or type, but when the doctor and patient can look together at the data and converse, relationships can be built and trust established.
Patients can see this data, which leads to a better understanding of their conditions, even when all is as it should be. It’s not just a success when we tell them what’s wrong. It’s just as much a success when we can assure them that everything is OK!
Technology that is Easy to Learn and Implement in a Practice
I have to admit that before we had this OCT technology, I wondered how proficient I would be at reading the scans and interpreting results. This was much easier than I had hoped and has expanded my own clinical knowledge and understanding of how disease processes occur.
The Maestro is vital for monitoring a variety of diseases, such as macular pucker, epiretinal membranes, ARMD, macular edema, cystoid macular edema after cataract surgery and central serous retinopathy. For example, we have a police officer whom we have monitored for several years through good times and times when his sight-threatening condition has become exacerbated. The Maestro allows us to keep tabs on his eye health, alerting us when intervention with treatment is necessary.
The ease of use of each Topcon instrument is helpful in training new employees. In this age of computers, the young employees we tend to hire adapt quickly to using the equipment. This means we can hire people with relatively no experience (with the expectation that we can train them), which allows us to make more affordable hiring choices. We are then able to more easily provide yearly increases and retain our employees for longer periods of time.
Changing Lives While Building a Long-Lasting, Profitable Practice
The technology and support provided to us by Topcon Healthcare has enabled us to forge relationships with our patients, and change life for the better for so many of them.
We are thankful for our patients, and we feel a solemn responsibility to provide the best care possible. Topcon Healthcare technologies make it possible for us to do that while delivering a level of efficiency that contributes significantly to our profitability.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shane Presson, OD, is the co-owner, along with his wife, Michelle Presson, OD, of Karns Vision in Knoxville, Tenn.