Experts stand ready to address your questions
The Practice Management and Development Course returns to the ESCRS Congress in Milan for the first time since 2019. A daylong masterclass on Sunday preceded the workshop session today.
In the workshops, a panel including Paul Rosen, Amanda Carones, Sheraz Daya, Sharif Mahdavi, Colin Kerr, and Arthur Cummings, among others, will explore bedside manner, practical office management, sustainability, and related topics. The session culminates in an “Ask the Experts” forum where delegates can ask questions about the challenges they face in managing their practices.
EuroTimes reporter Clare Quigley MD talked with Arthur Cummings MD, FRCS about the state of practice management in ophthalmology. Dr Cummings is a consultant eye surgeon at the Wellington Eye Clinic in Dublin, Ireland.
What has changed in practice management in 2022?
There have been significant changes in what patients expect in a service and what outcomes they look for from surgery. People are more demanding since COVID. They don’t want to spend a huge amount of time waiting around in the clinic. For example, filling out forms and paying for the visit—these are processes done more and more outside the clinic setting. Progress in the patient service that could have taken years has happened a lot more quickly because of COVID.
People have also become a lot more discerning—there is no question about that. They’ve become more aware of their health and approach costs related to their health differently. Whereas previously, they were more conscious of costs in deciding on a premium lens implant, now they want the feeling a premium IOL will give them.
How do you go about getting feedback on the service?
We do a couple of things. On a very regular basis—about once a month—we send out a SurveyMonkey. That goes out to patients who are thinking about surgery, those who’ve had surgery, and those who’ve had a postoperative visit. We learn a lot from it, and there’s always space for the patient to tell us what they’re thinking. I can’t think of a single month where we don’t learn something from the survey and implement it somewhere. About twice a year, we have a “secret shopper”. That’s when someone—like a colleague or someone from the industry—will drop in, sit in as a patient, and let us know what the experience is like.
What is useful to ask patients, when getting feedback?
We do not ask too much, but one thing that is useful to start with, to get the patient in a positive mood, is “What did you like about the service?” And we also ask, “What about the service could be improved upon?”
What about reviews?
Actually, that’s one thing we could improve upon in our practice. We want to develop a better review system. We tend to publish on social media when we get a nice, positive review, but eliciting more patient reviews is something I want to do. That’s what I’ll be taking away from the Practice Management Masterclass— what Shareef Mahdavi has to say on reviews!
What advice would you give to an ophthalmologist starting their private practice?
I did a course in the US called “Physician CEO” in 2017. This course would have been nice to do at the beginning of my career. I’ve made a lot of changes in my practice since then. I learned very useful business principles. In medicine, we always learn about minimising risk, but running a business requires taking risk. An independent practice, because it involves costs and needs to be profitable to keep going, is a business. As physicians, we immerse ourselves in the medical literature, but there is a lot to learn about running a business.
The Practice Management and Development Workshops take place today from 08.30 – 18.00 in Room Brown 1.