Tips For Re-Opening Your Optical Practice
As many optometry practices prepare to re-open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it certainly will not be business as usual for optometrists. Many changes must take place before doctors, opticians, and staff can feel comfortable returning to work. Protecting staff and patients while ensuring the practice remains profitable will be a balancing act for many optometrists.
Despite these challenges, practice owners are getting creative and finding solutions in a world that has changed rapidly in the past few months.
While preparing your practice to see patients again, create a checklist of all the areas you need to address. These are some guidelines to help you get started:
Cleaning, disinfecting, and other safety measures
- Ensure all staff members have access to and use proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including facemasks, gloves, face shields and eye protection while providing patient care.
- Ensure you have an ample supply of alcohol solution (at least 70%), hand sanitizer, hand soap and disinfectant wipes.
- Install breath shields on slit-lamps and protective barriers at the reception desk.
- Consider ultraviolet sanitizing cabinets or hydrogen peroxide wipes to sanitize eyeglass frames.
- Routinely screen temperatures of patients and staff with non-contact infrared thermometers. Screen all patients and staff for COVID-19 symptoms by implementing a questionnaire.
- Limit the people in your office to patients only, except for those accompanying pediatric patients or patients requiring special assistance.
- Train all staff members on proper cleaning protocols and how to regulate patient flow to ensure social distancing. The CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting are a good place to start.
- Remove any shared or unnecessary items such as pens, clipboards and brochures.
- Remove extra chairs and demarcate certain areas in the waiting area and optical to encourage social distancing, at least six feet apart.
- Stagger appointment times to reduce the number of patients in your office and to allow time to disinfect.
- Use automated recall management systems to schedule missed appointments or past-due appointments.
- Consider extended business hours to compensate for staggered appointment scheduling.
- Prioritize outstanding insurance claims.
- Re-evaluate your frame inventory.
- Adjust office staffing if patient volume is reduced.
- Contact your suppliers to defer any accounts payable invoices, if possible.
Patient care and communication
- Consider how your office will prioritize urgent office visits and other essential appointments over routine care, when appropriate.
- Inform patients that your office is resuming services and assure them that you are implementing proper safety measures. Update your website, social media, and other channels of communication.
- Post signage inside the practice to inform patients of new office protocols and train staff on communicating this information to patients.
- Contact patients to reschedule routine appointments after restrictions are lifted.
- Utilize electronic medical record systems. Send patient health forms ahead of time to avoid exchanging paperwork in office.
- Ask patients to check-in over the phone and have them wait outside when they arrive. Have a staff member escort them inside once the office is sanitized.
- Have patients wear facemasks at all times while inside your practice.
- Limit optical dispensing, repairs and adjustments. Consider curbside pick-up or mailing orders.
- Send electronic prescriptions and email other correspondence (such as receipts or referrals) when possible.
- Consider telehealth options to screen patients who may need an in-person office visit.
For up-to-date information and more help on re-opening your practice successfully, check out these resources:
R&D Optical Lab is here for you during this difficult time. We are able to fill emergency orders, and in most cases, provide your patients with a one-day turnaround. We also have PPE in stock and available to order! Please do not hesitate to reach out to us anytime. Please visit our website RandDOptical.com or call us at 513-273-4034 to learn more about our optical products. For more tips and our latest updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or LinkedIn!