Maximizing Efficiencies with Multiple Locations
Chad Fleming, OD FAAO
Wichita Optometry, PA, Wichita, KS
The mindset of many colleagues who are optometrists first and then business owners, is that adding locations only adds problems and doubles expenses. Conversely, I’ve found that a second location allows the business owner to consolidate job responsibilities and increase workflow efficiencies without doubling the costs. In fact, multiple locations working together as a unit gives a synergistic effect. The key to running a multiple location practice efficiently is to centralize administrative duties like phones, billing, testing, lab work, and scheduling, and utilize cloud-based technology such as a cloud-based EHR and practice management software platform and document management.
With multiple locations, VOIP becomes a very attractive means of communicating with patients. With a traditional phone system, it costs thousands of dollars to set up and manage multiple locations and transfer calls from location to location. Not only does the overall cost go down when using VOIP, but the flexibility and patient experience improves. Most VOIP systems allow you to directly text your patients which provides a higher level of service by meeting patients where they are.
For a multiple location practice, medical testing can be done at a centralized testing facility which requires purchasing only one OCT versus one at each location. While this doesn’t always work due to location and patient convenience, patients have already been trained by our healthcare system that “lab” testing is done at other facilities or a centralized location so many practices can set this up with minimal resistance. When you have to increase instruments and inventory on a 1:1 ratio, the result is decreased profitability. However, instrument and inventory ratios that are greater than 1 can increase profits exponentially.
Scheduling can also be easily done in a centralized fashion which produces consistency in scheduling and makes repeatability more likely since staff can be managed at one location.
Another key component to successfully running multiple locations is utilizing cloud-based technology such as a cloud-based PMS/EMR. With cloud-based PMS/EHR, all patient records, images, orders, reports, and schedules are easily accessed from any location. Innate in my EHR is also the ability to run reports by location so we can easily measure and identify areas of need and potential growth for each location.
RevolutionEHR Simplifies and Unifies Multi-Location Practices
Cloud-based document management also increases efficiencies for multiple location practices. The rise in EFTs for bill pay has resulted in remittances being files that are no longer mailed but online and accessed as PDFs. Offices may continue to print these and review them costing the practice hundreds of dollars in paper and ink, not to mention storage space for the next 7 years. With cloud-based technology, billing staff does not have to print these remittance reports and the reports can be accessed at any location.
There are many advantages to having a multiple location practice, however a practice’s success depends on the ability to maximize efficiencies while minimizing costs.
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