If you can make your doctor, clinic, or practice more income, then you are (likely) going to make more income. That is the salary bottom line.  How can you personally make this happen? By increasing the efficiency of your work environment.

How to increase efficiency

In the 1947 Christmas movie “Miracle on 34th” Street” one of the subplots is the competition between two New York city department store giants, Macy’s and Gimbel’s. 

Mr. Macy is starting a new “customer first” policy and he instructs his staff to send customers to the competition if Macy’s doesn’t have exactly what the customer wants.  Under his breath he says, “and consequently we’ll make more money than ever.” In other words, it’s a “win/win” policy. If only every business was like that!

We, as ophthalmic technicians, should think in terms of a win/win relationship with our employers. Our job is to make the eye doctor more efficient. If the doctor could see 30 patients in 4 hours all by his/her self, we wouldn’t have a job. 

So, how do we increase efficiency? Think about the situations that make your day inefficient and frustrating, like these:

  • You are working with the retina doctor and the OCT instrument gives you an error message on startup.
  • You are working with the glaucoma doctor, one of your fellow techs calls in sick, and the assistant you are working with does not know how to work the visual field instrument.
  • You are in the middle of a busy day, your acuity projector blows a bulb, and you can’t find a replacement bulb.
  • Your office has EMR and the room you are using has a dead computer.

You get the picture. So, what can you do about it? How do you personally make the office more efficient, and consequently make yourself more valuable to your employer? Here are 15 ways to get started:

At the end of your workday, jot down notes about what frustrated you. Likewise, take notes about frustrations that your co-workers bring up. Think about possible solutions. Don’t just complain about problems, offer solutions and follow up.

Become computer savvy if you are not already. Take a course if you need to. Know the windows operating system backwards and forwards. Know the parts of computer and how to take them apart and put them together.

If you hunt-n-peck on he keyboard, learn how to type. There are computer programs that can teach you in a short amount of time.

Know the instruments that you work with. Know how to change the bulb and or battery in every instrument that has one. Learn how to trouble shoot instrument malfunctions.

Learn everything you can about the diagnostic instruments that you work with, such as the OCT and the visual field instrument. Look through the manuals that come with the instruments for useful information on operation and maintenance. All manufacturers have websites with how-to information.

If an instrument breaks down, know enough about the instrument to troubleshoot a simple cause of the breakdown.  Know the number to call for service.  Know the location of the service center. If you are on the east coast, it will not do you any good to call a west coast service center at 8 am your time.  Know if you have a service contract or not. Have the make, model, and serial number handy. Have a phone nearby the instrument (think cell-phone) for technical service instructions.

Get to know the sales reps and service reps in your area. They are great sources of information and help.

If a new instrument is purchased, be there when the company rep does the in-service training. Pay attention and take notes. Make up a “cheat-sheet” of the operating procedures.

Medicine and ophthalmology are constantly changing.  Constantly seek to increase your knowledge and skills.  One of the ways to do this is to move up through the levels of certification.

Be proactive about training others and sharing information. Likewise, learn from the experience of your co-workers and acknowledge their contribution.

Help others do their job. If someone else is responsible for ordering supplies and something is running low, point it out in a nice way.

Be constantly thinking of better ways to organize the office.

Don’t be bossy. Include your co-workers in the discovery and decision making process of making your office more efficient. You want everyone to have “ownership” in the operation of the office.

A more efficient office is more patient friendly, more enjoyable to work in, and (whispering) it is more profitable for the employer and the employee.