A new year can bring lots of “new” things, including new staff members to our optical teams. While new team members are typically considered an asset to the existing staff, established patients may view them as a hindrance.
Below are some helpful tips that you can follow when you bring in new hires to your team that can help maintain a continuity of care and keep your patients happy!
- Use social media: Practices with their fingers on the pulse of social media can offset awkward conversations with a simple post announcing that the practice is growing and to help welcome the newest member aboard. Practices that do not utilize social media may opt to have established staff members introduce the practice’s newest member at patient interactions during the shadowing process.
- Appoint an office buddy: A new employee’s first weeks are a flurry of activity and information; very possibly overwhelming. Appointing an office buddy may diminish new workplace jitters by orienting new staff on office layout, navigating the mandatory training EHR modules and paperwork, and set new staff at ease in their new workplace.
- Include different teaching and learning approaches: Everyone learns a little differently -some by watching, some by doing. Make sure to include multiple options to complement each new employee’s learning style to set them up for success in their role and for your patient’s desired level of care.
- Create reference guides: Once out on the clinical floor, and the shadowing portion of training begins, offer a front desk reference guide to your new hire. If the practice is on the smaller side, and doesn’t have a reference guide, this may be a great time to collaborate and create one! Helpful reference guides should include a phone script, tips for the phone system, office equipment, computer operating system, email, and basics of EHR (employee health record) navigation.
- Provide tips and tricks on dispensing: Assisting patients with frame and lens selection may lead to nerve wracking exchanges for new staff members. Murphy’s Law will find the newbie on their own with a patient asking them to “make my glasses like you did last time!” Preparing new staff for such a scenario well in advance may boost their confidence when working with a long-time patient.
- Keep good records and use them as a reference: Some offices use electronic charts as master order files and paper charts with demo lenses and past lens styles and treatments within. Archived, tangible information is priceless and time saving. Staff need only to pull the chart, match the frame, and verify prescription choice and treatments for the new order.
- Know your lens and lab options: A quick phone call to your partner labs can verify if they have the chosen frame pattern on file and request a lens only job. Practices with in-house edging equipment can also request uncut lenses and edge lenses while their patient waits.
- Understand insurance benefits: The most difficult continuity of care hurdle is the financial one. Patients deserve the most bang for their insurance buck when purchasing eyewear, and many patients rely solely on their provider’s staff to determine optimal vision with minimal out of pocket costs.
- Educate staff on the insurance language: Provide redacted benefit summaries to new staff to acquaint themselves with their basic layouts. Encourage highlighting of pertinent copay and coinsurance amounts, review simple percentage calculations, and show new staff how to determine which frame brands are on tiered benefit levels.
- Active listening is key: One of the most important skills a new hire can develop early in their new position is active listening. Patients only want to be heard when their vision is not quite right. Paying attention, repeating back what is heard, and asking more questions to resolve the vision issue builds rapport and fosters trust.
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for maintaining continuity of care when new employees arrive? Leave me a comment!
Article written by Lisa A. Fromm, ABOC, NCLC