The holidays are busy for everyone, but not many people think about how busy life is for an optometry practice during the holidays. The time is now to plan an effective strategy to get your patients in the door and be able to help as many of them as you can to maximize your profits.
The holidays are busy in optometry practices for a few key reasons:
- People have time off. Kids are on holiday breaks around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and many adults have set time off, or take vacation to be home with their kids. Days off like this are often easier to coordinate doctors appointments.
- Flex Spending Accounts. Many people have HSA or FSA accounts that have money expiring at the end of the calendar year. Unfortunately, this means that the procrastinators of the world have waited until December to use up their benefits. Glasses and contacts are often big-ticket items that ARE eligible to use these types of tax-savings dollars on.
- Health Insurance Deductibles. If someone has met their deductibles, the end of the year is a big time for them to take care of health conditions that they’ve been putting off. You see an influx of patients during this time.
- Insurance Changes. With all of the changes in healthcare, many patients will try to use benefits on a plan that they have currently because they know that their upcoming plan in the new year is not as comprehensive.
Because of this influx of patients in the last quarter, doctors need to be prepared. Here are a few helpful tips:
Send reminders now! Thinking ahead will help your patients think ahead as well. Postcards and emails are great ways to remind patients that they may want to get in. Mention that the last few weeks of the year are harder to schedule because of high demand and that they can schedule sooner in the year.
Educate your staff. If your staff understands how the common health and vision plans work, they can easily educate the patient on when they are eligible to come in or use benefits. For example, some vision plans allow a patient to come in within the same month of their last service date. So, someone who had an eye exam on December 30 of last year, can still come in on December 1 this year and use their benefit, even if it hasn’t been a full 365 days. Knowing some of these intricacies can help your staff get patients scheduled in a more organized manner, allowing you to see more of the last-minute patients at the last minute.
Extend hours. You may need to plan for extended hours or extra days where you can fit in overflow patients that are trying to get in at the last minute. Block these times off now and save them for the absolute emergencies or overflow. If you don’t need to fill them, don’t. Your staff (and you!) will be thankful because we all know appointments are more work than just the 30 minutes that they are in the office. Insurance paperwork, glasses/contacts orders, and adjustments are just a few of the tasks that happen behind the scene, many of which have to be done by the end of the year as well!
Thank your staff! Remember that while life is crazy there at your practice, life is even crazier outside of the office with holiday parties, family get-togethers, shopping, serving, and more. You may be asking a lot of your staff in this season, and you need to make sure that they know you appreciate it!