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Thread: OTC dispenses

  1. #1
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    OTC dispenses



    "Have you ever noticed that small departures from policies and procedures become bigger departures, and bigger departures, and before you know it, the good original policy is not being followed?"


    Case in point:

    Our policy: scheduled time with optician to dispense spectacles.

    Patient's policy: "Aaahh, I'll swing in, whenever I'm in the area." "Aaahh, I'll let my wife swing by in get them." "Awww, duct tape them to the back door and I'll swing by over the weekend..."

    (Just yesterday when I was answering the phone at lunch: "Hello. I received a call that my glasses are ready for pick up." Yes, our optician has a time in her schedule in one hour at 2:00! "What? I'm just picking up my glasses! Why do I need an appointment?!" Well, you cranky old fart, this is about the zillionth pair we've made you, and I'm sure you're going to be your usual pain-in-the-a$$ self about something you don't like, I mean: Yes, we always want to make sure we have time to custom fit your glasses and make sure everything's great! "OHALLRIGHT.")

    So, today, a patient is back in the office six months after "dispensing" for a glaucoma follow up (and she's late, of course) and she says, off the bat "I want to talk about these glasses". Well, we have you scheduled for a glaucoma visit. "I can't see out of my glasses." YOU MEAN THE ONES WE DISPENSED SIX MONTHS AGO...<checks record>...TO YOUR...SON...!? "Yes. I just haven't tried them until recently..."

    BLAH BLAH BLAH.



    Andy says:
    "The correct policy is...no 'pick ups'. No 'over the counter' dispenses. No 'my son is picking up my glasses' stuff. That's the proper policy...SO STICK WITH IT!"

    Last edited by drk; 05-27-2022 at 12:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Totally unworkable by and for me.
    I routinely dispense glasses “on the fly” to wearer, friends and family all the time.
    They know to follow up “if they need any attention”
    If, subsequently, there’s an issue as you outlined, we handle it.
    I’ve been doing it this way for decades, and that catastrophic situation described does not happen all thst often to be so strict, IMHO.

    I guess it depends on how both sides define 20/Happy.

    Barry

  3. #3
    Master OptiBoarder DanLiv's Avatar
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    Officially scheduling dispense appointments with opticians has done well in our practice. Our opticians have schedules and know most of what to expect from a day, it helps impress upon patients that they are not "picking up glasses", they are having an "eyewear fitting", and I believe it has increased our patients' respect for the opticians as professionals.

    When we first started doing it years ago it was challenging to shift the momentum away from the open door attitude. Something that really helped was scheduling dispense appointments at the time of purchase. We schedule them two weeks out and give them the same kind of appointment reminder card they get for doctor appointments, and we have automated appointment reminders so they get a notification 7 days before, 3 days before, and again the day of the appointment 2 hours before. We don't even notify the glasses are done before the appt, just have them ready. 90+% of customers like the system, show on time for their appointments, and do not call looking for their glasses. For us it ensures a nice even schedule without a glut of people coming in at once. The key of course is we have to make damn sure the eyewear is done and ready in time for that appointment, and in case of delay call and notify them well in advance to cancel the appt or reschedule

    For patients who don't schedule ahead of time, we send text or email notifications with a link to our opticians' online calendar to schedule. That works great too.

    Walk-ins are pretty rare these days.

  4. #4
    Master OptiBoarder
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    We never used to do any appointments in the optical shop until covid. It was done to be able to social distance and clean after each patient. Now that I am here alone with ZERO help, it is really great to do appointments. Most of my patients appreciate being able to have more one on one time and I am able to address their concerns without having to jump from patient to patient. I do try to squeeze patients in if there is an emergency but for the most part, it's worked out well. My reps are telling me that a lot of their other offices have decided to keep the by appointment only even though the covid mess has mostly passed. I do get several people that are walk in patients (not from our office) who get mad that they need an appointment (although we have it on our website and voicemail so they've been warned.) Again, my big thing is staffing. This really helps when you're short staffed. It's also nice to know what to expect for the day. (Like if that difficult patient is coming in, you can mentally prepare!)

  5. #5
    Compulsive Truthteller OptiBoard Gold Supporter Uncle Fester's Avatar
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    Went to appointments mostly 2 years ago when we stopped emergency only office hours. It is working well.

    I book 2 per hour when the doc is in- more if no doc.

    When I notify the glasses are ready I'll ask what day and time they'd like to come in. Often the same day has openings. I notify after lunch (I sit and eat lunch at the desk and usually let calls go to voice mail).

    If the phone call goes to VM here's my spiel:

    "This is Uncle Fester from Dr Iris's office calling. (let them know right away who you are as it keeps them from hanging up or deleting if reading the message thinking it's nefarious.)

    "Your glasses are ready. To schedule a time to pick them up please call first 123-456-7890. If the office is busy and it goes to VM please leave your call back number and I'll return your call as soon as I can."

    When someone walks in I'll ask if they have an appointment while knowing they don't.

    I then explain we are now trying to work by appointment but will accept walk-ins but those with appointments will have my priority so there may be a wait.

    We are steady busy right now and I've always multi-tasked if I know it's something simple.

    It really helps pace the day and those type A personalities who get bent out of shape I'm just as glad to let them move on. Which, usually means they come back to me at some point regretting their last experience.

  6. #6
    Master OptiBoarder
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    I too am good at multitasking, but it can get out of hand when you're clearly discussing something with a patient and others keep interrupting. I get interrupted quite often as it is with people asking for directions. We are located in an outpatient facility that has many offices in it. One day I got interrupted 6 times while working with the same patient! So frustrating.
    Last edited by mervinek; 05-31-2022 at 09:43 AM.

  7. #7
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    We also switched from open door to appointment only following COVID. As mentioned above, holy crap it helps streamline pickups and gives you a sense for when people are coming in. It also helps cluster everyone onto non-doctor days, or times when we have ample overlap for opticians to dispense, as opposed to literally five minutes before we close. Like Uncle Fester described, "Hi, this is <optical>, your glasses are ready. We're doing all pick-ups by appointment only, to set one up please call XXX". The rare times now that I'm getting pushback, I'll explain so that we have someone available to help and that they're not waiting excessively while we help two other people. If they still give me guff about it, then I'll try to fit them in to a "least bad" slot, or offer them a contact-less pick up, with the assurance that they can schedule adjustments for a later time that is more convenient for them.

    None of that is perfect, but it's a system that works ok for our office. If you're sitting in a Walmart vision center, or Cosco optical where you have less control over your door in regards to passers-by, well, sorry m8. But broadly, like Barry said, getting super worked up about the 1 out of many people who can't rub two neurons together to spark the thought that maybe they should call me to have their nosepads adjusted? Eh, not worth stressing making a whole policy to get a signature about

  8. #8
    OptiBoardaholic KrystleClear's Avatar
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    I do try to stick to our policies, but honestly when the owners/management don't back employees up when they follow policy, why bother? Patients learn that they can get away with things, especially if they make a stink about it. The ones in charge typically give in to patient demands. Ultimately, I want to keep the patient's happy and coming back, so I make our policies known and then assess each situation as it comes. My old office was awful with this. They had all these policies that we were told to adhere to and then all it took was a nasty email from a disgruntled patient and suddenly we would be in trouble for following company policy. Then you end up with people hopping from office to office eternally getting free trial contacts instead of updating their RX and paying for a supply.

    Personally, we're not busy enough in the optical to require appointments. Some days it's dead in here. Occasionally, I get a line of people waiting but I do the best I can to get them all what they need. I will dispense glasses to family member's with the patient's permission but I make sure they know that the wearer needs to come in for adjustments (or to address any issues with the glasses within 90 days).
    Krystle

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    Totally unworkable by and for me.
    I routinely dispense glasses “on the fly” to wearer, friends and family all the time.
    They know to follow up “if they need any attention”
    If, subsequently, there’s an issue as you outlined, we handle it.
    I’ve been doing it this way for decades, and that catastrophic situation described does not happen all thst often to be so strict, IMHO.

    I guess it depends on how both sides define 20/Happy.

    Barry
    This thirty first day of May in the year of our Lord, two thousand twenty two, I agree with Barry.

    We almost always have 2 opticians working every day though so it almost never gets untenable to have walk-ins picking up glasses.

  10. #10
    Master OptiBoarder
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    It is a lot easier when you have more than one person working in the office. I am the only one here. ALONE. I do everything from dusting the displays to submitting insurance. I reconcile statements and then pass them on to the accountant. So the only thing I don't do in the office is write the checks to pay the bills. So I do find making appointments a lot easier. I will dispense to a family member or friend of the patient when the patient requests and issue the warning to let us know if there are any issues and to never let anything go more than 1-2 weeks. ( I tell them 1-2 weeks because in a patient mind, 4 months ago was just a few days ago...) I do my best to squeeze in people and walk ins but sometimes I just can't. I'm 1 person. Most people are understanding, but you will always get them grumpy ones. I also will say, we still get the angry patient who yells and screams about wearing masks. We had a patient in the doctor's office last week yelling at the tech saying she was going to kick her mother****ing a**! So the patient was escorted out by security. The entire time she was yelling and screaming right outside my office door. I could hardly hear the patient I was working with! The tech had to be escorted to her car by security at the end of the day. It's insane how people behave.

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