A problem that commonly occurs in opthalmologist and optometrist practices is a lack of communication between the staff and the doctors. Doctors need to acknowledge and address this issue with their staff members.
Prioritize clear communication
The lack of communication often begins with doctors and staff having different opinions about a given issue. This difference can result in patients receiving confusing information. In addition, hearing one story from the doctor and another from the staff can lead to low client confidence levels and even poor patient outcomes.
Poor communication increases the likelihood that someone will make a mistake and fosters a hostile working environment because staff feels left in the dark. Finally, poor communication can even increase the cost of giving good care. Everyone needs to know who does what to ensure the best outcome.
Focus on problem-solving
Begin by making communication an essential element of your vision practice’s culture. Talk to your staff and encourage them to talk to you. Make sure that your team knows you value their contributions to the communication. Remember that patients may also need help communicating; train your staff and doctors on ways to communicate more effectively. For example, you may want to develop patient satisfaction surveys to provide insight into where you and your team are succeeding and not succeeding with your patients. As a result, you will know to make targeted changes in how you interact with your patients.
Incorporate communication skills into your onboarding training for new hires and provide additional training for your existing staff. The additional training helps to improve communication skills, but it also tells the team how important you believe communication is to your practice. Think about using one of the current communication structures like Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) or Situation, Task, Intent, Concern, and Calibrate (STICC) in healthcare client communications. In addition, train staff to use teach-back methods with clients to ensure that the client understood the instructions or information that the staff just gave them.
Consider scheduling regular staff meetings as a group and in one-on-ones. People are sometimes intimidated by the challenge of communicating, especially with higher-ups. But if you offer regular opportunities where communication is expected and encouraged, your staff will become more comfortable with the concept.
Create a straightforward process for developing a treatment plan. Put your process in writing and make sure that the plan states clearly who can share what information with clients. Talk to your Vision Care Direct rep for suggestions and materials that you can use to develop a plan.
Clearly define roles and responsibilities. Make sure that staff understand what they can and can’t do. For instance, it may be appropriate to tell clients what they think. On the other hand, sometimes, a professional conclusion needs to come from the doctor. Ask your rep if they have any material or blog posts on this issue.
Consider creating an online library for your staff featuring up-to-date and valuable educational resources on other eye health and vision care issues. This can include saving the following link from Vision Care Direct’s provider blog to give them easy access to informative and enjoyable current information on provider office and staff issues. This library is a great place to keep your written policies about communication issues.
One way to improve and create a more efficient form of communication is to adopt one of the newly available HIPAA-compliant text messaging programs. They allow all members of your care team to communicate and keep each other in the loop. As a result, you can make sure the right people know what they need to at the right time.
Vision Care Direct is here to help.
Patient satisfaction is essential to successful vision care practices, and poor communication reduces patient satisfaction. Vision Care Direct can help you achieve your satisfaction goals through outstanding services and benefits. But in the end, you and your staff must effectively communicate the benefits of working with you to retain your patients. Training your team — and yourself — to use communication skills can improve productivity, help staff morale, limit errors, and most importantly, improve patient satisfaction.
Improve communications in your vision practice today. Use the blogs and other tools Vision Care Direct offers to help make your practice stronger through better communications.