How I Used Metrics to Drive Staff Engagement and Accountability

by | Dec 1, 2021

In 2008, I opened Envision Eyecare “cold” in Asheville, NC. I knew I had my work cut out for me because the economy was in the tank at the time and the Asheville area was already saturated with providers. Nonetheless, the business has grown steadily every year and is now a 2 doctor practice with 15 staff members. I credit part of my success to seeking out the advice of mentors, coaches and consultants. Among the pearls I gleaned from these experts was that the metrics that are measured and tracked in a business tend to improve. In the early years of my practice, I tracked metrics, but I honestly did not put the information to good use at the time. 

INVOLVE YOUR TEAM

Advisors began to encourage me to involve my staff in tracking metrics. I welcomed the challenge since staff involvement fit in perfectly with one of my top goals – to create a cohesive, collaborative team. About a decade ago, a paradigm shift occurred in the practice when we began using EDGEPro.

I realized that EDGEPro would provide insight into the metrics that are important to me such as revenue per patient, capture rate, year-long contact lens sales, optical sales per optician, retinal photo capture rate, etc. However, I was equally excited that EDGEPro would allow access to data, including metrics by individual employees, that each person in the practice could track on their own. 

At first, only my leadership team was given access to EDGEPro and assigned specific numbers to track. Once we all realized how quick and easy it was to access data critical to improve our performance, we allowed full access to EDGEPro for the entire team and assigned specific numbers for each staff member to track. 

LEAD AND COMMUNICATE

Our core values and culture mixed with solid leadership help drive accountability with our numbers. The leadership team (Clinical, Optical, and Operational team leaders and our Office Manager) meets weekly and the entire staff meets every other week. The leadership team concentrates on big picture items, whereas we work on the individual components that make up the big picture during the meetings with the entire staff. In this way, we use accountability to hold team members to a standard of excellence within their performance and are able to provide additional training when necessary.

For example, our leadership team recently used EDGEPro’s Business Overview (broken down by doctor) to discover that a doctor in our practice had a lower revenue per patient than our goal of $700/patient. We realized that he needed more time to work with our communications consultant to finesse his dialogue with patients. We also decided to shadow each other’s exams to help each other communicate value to the patient. After taking these two steps, this doctor’s revenue per patient increased by $190/patient over the course of three months.

This process of reviewing individual metrics regularly during meetings and devising action plans for improvement results in team members developing a true sense of pride in their personal growth. Office culture is enhanced when individuals compete against themselves to improve their own performance. Our culture is such that team members collaborate to help each other improve their individual performance rather than competing against one another. This culture results in a better quality of life for our team members, who are the ones responsible for the warm, inviting patient experience. I believe this is one of the primary reasons we’ve been voted “Best Of” in the eye care category for our city for 12 years in a row. 

MANAGE YOUR INVENTORY AND SET OPTICAL GOALS

Our purpose at Envision Eyecare is to optimize the quality of life for both our team members and our patients. When we look through the lens of improved quality of life for our patients, it’s incumbent upon us to prescribe and advise the best treatments and products for our patients’ eyes. Monitoring our performance through metrics helps us ensure we provide a successful mix of products and services to do just that since the patient ultimately decides if our value proposition is effective.

One area where EDGEPro has helped with product mix is in managing our frame inventory. We use the Frame Report in EDGEPro’s Optical Overview monthly to determine our top selling frame brands. We evaluate our mix of frame lines at least quarterly. The mix of frames on our boards corresponds to the percentage of frames we are selling for that brand. In other words, if we have 1000 frames on display and we sell 10% brand X, we designate 100 spots on our frame boards for brand X.

We also make decisions on which frame lines to discontinue when we find that they are poor sellers on our frame brand count. In addition to frame board management, we use EDGEPro benchmarks to set goals in our optical and monitor our progress toward those goals. For instance, one year we set a goal to increase our average frame sale by $20. Although this may not sound like a big number, a significant increase in revenue results when considering an entire year. The year this goal was set, we actually fell short of our goal, but still managed to increase our average frame sale by $11/frame, resulting in an additional $12,562 in frame revenue.

WORK SMARTER: SELECTING MANAGED VISION CARE PLANS

EDGEPro also recently helped us confidently decide to drop off the provider list for 2 vision plans.  In our field, it is easy to assume accepting all vision plans is beneficial for a practice. Rather than assume, my insurance biller and I used the Sales Matrix and Edge Marks Matrix reports in EDGEPro to determine that two of the vision plans we were participating in produced very little income for the practice.

We looked at the number of exams performed and cross-referenced that with average revenue per exam for this analysis. Notably, we did not do many exams for these particular plans nor did we derive as much revenue per exam with the two plans in question as we did with the other plans we accept in our office. In addition, these two plans began to force us to use their labs to make glasses. Their labs had poor lens quality control and had delays in shipping jobs back to us which, from a patient’s perspective, looks bad on our practice.

Lastly, when we considered the amount of administrative time and competency training each individual vision plan requires for a given team member, we realized the added complexity did not justify continuing to accept these two plans. Eliminating participation in these vision plans is another reason that our revenue per patient is up $61 for the year, which will equate to an additional $145,000 of revenue. What’s more, our team literally thanked us for having fewer vision plans to manage. 

A FOUNDATION FOR IMPROVEMENT

Because I value and appreciate the impact that others had on my success, I am sharing my experience with others via my consulting service, Harmoneyes Practice Solutions. In working with clients, I find that there is a lack of focus on metrics, and profitability in general. As a consultant, I’m actually reluctant to take on clients who are not tracking metrics.

Without baseline data, it’s difficult to determine what changes to implement, let alone the effectiveness of your efforts. I’ve found that consistent tracking of metrics and working to improve performance is the key to profitability. Once you have baseline data, strategic decisions can be made to improve the bottom line. This is where consultants can help a practice. It’s one thing to track metrics, it’s another thing to make calculated decisions based on the metrics. The key is to interpret the story that the metrics are telling and respond appropriately to it. 

Practice owners have a lofty challenge in seeing patients while also running a business. It requires a team of dedicated, accountable personnel to effectively improve metrics. As a consultant, I put action plans in place to help practices with this activity on a regular and consistent basis. I advise clients to strongly consider using EDGEPro. EDGEPro’s ROI is hard to overestimate. A low monthly fee can result in literally tens of thousands of additional dollars in revenue, a team with a deeper understanding of how to measure and move the needle for what’s most important, and ultimately, happier patients that receive better products.

By Larry Golson, OD

Investigating what goes into building great organizations.

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