Back from the ASOA (American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators) Annual Conference in sunny San Diego, CA, Jennifer and Corey share their insights and takeaways in this week’s episode of the DrMarketingTips podcast.
Several key themes emerged as ophthalmology practice administrators discussed challenges surrounding employee recruitment, engagement, and retention in today’s employee-driven work environment. The ever-present discussion of working more effectively with millennials continues but also how to manage a busy medical practice as current superstars start eyeing retirement rather than developing their careers further.
- The secret to building cohesive teams across generational divides
- How NOT to make the first day of work for your new hire suck
- The essential ingredients necessary for hiring and keeping millennials in your workplace
- What other practice managers are doing to improve the patient and employee experience at their practice and what you should be doing to get in front of this trend
Free Healthcare Awareness 2023 Calendar
Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.
Free Healthcare Awareness 2023 Calendar
Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.
Speaker 1: Dr. Marketing Tips, paging Dr. Marketing Tips. Dr. Marketing Tips, you’re needed in the marketing department.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips Podcast. Your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better, and faster. This show is all about connecting practices administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes, and sharing successes. Let’s get started.
Jennifer: Hey, there. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. I’m Jennifer …
Corey: And I’m Corey.
Jennifer: And we are joining you from sunny San Diego this week, where we have spent the past several days at the annual ASOA conference, which stands for The American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators. That is a mouth full and it was a mouth full of a conference with hundreds and hundreds of administrators, dozens upon dozens of sessions where Corey and I sat in on different tracks so that we can find out what practice administrators are dealing with firsthand, at their practices. So Corey, I think we’re going to do a tops level of kind of our key takeaways from this weeks practices, and then we’ll probably break down some of these topics into some subsequent podcast episodes over the next couple of weeks. So let’s get right to it. Corey, what was your big takeaway this week?
Corey: Yeah. So on the very first day, one of the earliest sessions that I sat in, we discussed how to create a team, and I thought that was really interesting. There was a couple key points that I took down on my notes that I wanted to share with everybody, it’s sort of the whole idea of, if you grow your team and you have good people, they’re going to help you advance your practice. And if you take these jobs, like your tech jobs and your technicians, and turn it into more of a career than a job, those kinds of things, that’s what helps inspire staff, it helps staff understand that you believe in them, and ultimately it’ll decrease expenses on the practices and sort of increase the efficiency.
Corey: And they were making the point that, if you have better trained staff and sort of these processes in place, you can see let’s say five patients more a day and then you’re going to pay for this enhanced training that quickly because of the increased efficiency that you’re seeing. And sometimes we forget we’re supposed to be on team, there’s an admin team, there’s a patient care team, there’s an AR team, whatever. But at the end of the day, they each have different goals and cultures sort of within them. So it’s up to the practice administrators and the leaders to reinforce the vision that you set out for the team. So I thought that was really interesting.
Jennifer: Did you hear that in your Friday session when you did the eight hour deep dive on the seven effective habits of successful leaders, the Stephen Covey piece?
Corey: Yes. That was around hour two I believe. We were talking about how to develop the teams.
Jennifer: And tell for our listeners, who were the presenters? Kind of where they were from and what their story was.
Corey: Yeah. So it was actually almost like a panel, and there was three administrators at different levels and they were with the Duke University Ophthalmology program. And what they had done over the past several years is actually basically, create a new culture from scratch, and they call the day zero, which I really like. So basically they sat down with every staff member, physician and they said, “We know that for the past 10 years X, Y, Z went this way, but starting today, it’s going to be different.” So they basically hit the reset button on their culture moving forward and they’ve seen the practice grow leaps and bounds because of that.
Jennifer: Yeah. I think that’s right in line with what Cara was saying in the keynote. There was a keynote on generational gaps and just different divides within the different generations within the workforce. And I think your probably wrote this in your notes too, but basically like, “Day zero, ground zero, day one for the employee.” And she had this whole pieces of conversation where we talked about like how not to make the first day suck for your new hire. And why is that so important? Because you’re so busy building teams within your practice and making sure that everything’s running efficient, but right now, the way that our competitive landscape is working with low unemployment, your employees are expecting to have a pretty darn good experience. And as practice managers, you’re so busy with the day to day that maybe you don’t have everything ready to go on day one.
Jennifer: So she was saying to put that focus on the first experience that the new hire has when they’re at the practice for the first time to the point that, they still have people trying to recruit them for jobs. Other practices are still talking to them, they may even have offers that are going to be made at the time that they’re starting at your practice. And until they have several months or maybe even a full year under their belt, where they’re kind of bound by what she was calling golden handcuffs, once they have some PTO built up, maybe they’re going to think twice about quitting. But when it comes to like a millennial, and if they have a bad experience on day one, they may not come back after lunch. And so putting your focus, your team building focus on that very first experience that that potential employee is going to have when they start their job.
Corey: Well, it’s like marketing, right? We always say, “Put your best foot forward.” Well, it’s the same thing on the employee side, when you have a new employee come, you want to put your best foot forward because those new hires, those are the flight risks, those are the ones that want to and totally capable of just up and leaving because like you said, maybe they have another offer, they chose you and they started with you, but that doesn’t mean that on Tuesday they’re going to get a phone call from another business that-
Jennifer: Offering them a dollar more an hour.
Corey: Right. And then they’re gone just like that. Because when they got there, their first day to start with you, they didn’t have a computer and everything was sort of disorganized, and-
Jennifer: They had lunch by themselves, nobody paid attention to them, there wasn’t a process and a protocol in place for day one. And so I thin that’s important when it comes to team building.
Corey: Exactly. Exactly. What was one of your big takeaways?
Jennifer: It’s right in line with what you’re saying, there were a lot of conversations about hiring and hiring practices in personnel.
Corey: There really was. Yeah.
Jennifer: A lot, because I think that is for all of us, because of the way that the market is right now, it’s an employee market. Just like in real estate, sometimes it’s employer like a couple years ago, and right now it’s an employee market, which is why we’re having to reinvest back into our employees. So like I was just saying, there was a keynote dedicated to understanding kind of the intricacies of the millennial. Because Millennials are the largest element of our workforce right now, and they grew up in a different time. It was interesting because there were several sessions that I attended where we talked about Millennials and just generational differences in general. And it’s not so much about the number, the year that they were born, as much as it is about the era that they grew up in and the things that shaped them as individuals.
Jennifer: There was one woman, we were listening to a session, she was a consultant, does sales training for Ophthalmologic practices. And she said, “I’m guilty of it. I raised my kids like this, and now you guys are all having to deal with my children in your practices.” For example, Millennials grew up … Actually Gen X, which is me, we grew up in the time that was the highest divorce rate our country had ever seen. And all of a sudden, you have individuals who are latchkey kids because the workplace was not flexible to allow mom or dad to come home to be there when you got off of school. So latchkey kids were the very first kids that were left a note with instructions on what to do for dinner and to do after they were done with school. It created an entire generation, Generation X, that’s a very independent generation, that can completely function on their own because that independence was instilled in them from day one.
Jennifer: If you like what you’re hearing and need some help marketing your medical practice this year, be sure to check us out at insightmg.com that’s insight M as in marketing, G as in group, .com. Don’t think you’ve got a budget for this kind of stuff? Think again. We’ve got you covered, make sure you schedule a free consult today.
Jennifer: And then you have Generation X, my generation who said, “You know what? I’m not going to raise my kids like that. It was hard, it was lonely being home alone. I had so much autonomy.” But then it’s this generation, I have kids, and the millennials, I become this person to my child, I start coddling them, I’m a helicopter parent, I’m allowing them to have flexibility because I never had that level of flexibility. And now they, the millennials, feel like they have more choices, they want to be coddled a little bit more. There’s more of a conversation. That’s all not because of the year they were born, that’s the situation they grew up in. And that’s part of understanding these difference in generations.
Corey: Yeah. And to that point, the millennials, they didn’t choose to grow up like that. I’m a millennial but more of an old soul millennial.
Jennifer: Yes, yeah.
Corey: That’s the term going around the conference. But yeah, so we didn’t ask for participation ribbons and trophies and things like that.
Jennifer: But you got it.
Corey: They were just sort of handed to us. So now when you show up at the workforce, you do want that consistent feedback, you sort of expect it. And knowing how to communicate across those generational divides can really unite or break apart a culture and an office.
Jennifer: Absolutely. What did she say? Like that she didn’t grow up asking for those ribbons, but she got them.
Jennifer: So that’s why you have to look at your workforce and say, “I need to reward them for doing a good job.”
Jennifer: Even if they’re just doing their job. That’s what they’re used to doing. They’re showing up, so they’re expecting to be rewarded.
Corey: Right. Like if you think about it, you would say as a practice administrator, “Do I really have to congratulate you because you showed up on time for five days in a row?”
Corey: Yeah, exactly. But then when you really think about it, aren’t you kind of glad that they showed up on time for five days in a row? So maybe you should say something.
Corey: So it was an interesting perspective.
Jennifer: Yeah. So the hiring stuff was a big trend and there’s like an overall trend I feel like that was in every session, and that was kind of like patient experience, and understanding these different generations, and along the lines of the hiring again. There’s lots of discussion about the Baby Boomers retiring right now, and what are you going to do with all the institutional knowledge? And how are you going to get this next generation up to speed? And do you maybe need to offer like a scale back retirement where somebody’s working a couple days a week as they’re training that next generation group? And that leads me into that kind of final piece of hiring, now more than ever the discussion out there is, “We have to get our people educated on how they play into the big picture. Because especially if you’re looking at the different generations, Millennials and the generation behind them of Generation Z, there is an expectation that you’re going to be part of something greater. And how are you going to do that with your employees?”
Corey: When you’re thinking about these in office training, one of my big takeaways in addition to everything that we just talked about was the in office conversion training. So I sat in on a session where they were discussing how … So the presenter basically set up a scenario with a practice that he was working with, and he said that they had two counselors and they were in charge of basically the upsell for the premium lenses for cataracts and things like that. And one converted at around like 48% to get people to go with like the multifocal lens and what have you, which is great, that’s a pretty good number. Another one converted at around 68%, so at the end of the year, the one with the higher conversion percentage wound up netting an additional $700,000-
Corey: For the practice. Right. And that had nothing to do with a bigger marketing budget or anything along those lines, it was just a matter of having the proper training and knowing how to speak to the patients. Because to an extent, especially in the ophthalmology field, a lot of what’s going on is it’s sales once they hit the counselor position. So if the physician might say, “You are a good fit for this particular procedure or this particular upgrade,” it’s not up to the physician to kind of like “close that deal.” But it is up to a counselor or someone within the practice to go ahead and take that responsibility and really do that and offer that to the patient. And it’s interesting when you frame that conversation as either selling or just providing a solutions that they’re going to be happier with and that’s a whole different topic. But I just thought it was really interesting that there’s a lot of things you can really do to increase the effectiveness and grow sort of the bottom line of the practice without spending any additional dollars.
Jennifer: Yeah. And I think in line, you just mentioned sales several times in that cycle. And I think so many practices now have ancillary sales opportunities.
Jennifer: Like where they’re adding cosmetic, or hearing aids, or upgraded lens, or regenerative medicine, cash based sales, thing of that nature that aren’t covered. And I never really thought about that with practices. And so taking that from a retail component, and how can you translate what’s going on in the retail world and turn that into an opportunity in your practice. And so I think there’s some deep dive that needs to happen when we get back to town to really start looking at the right kind of programs and campaigns to put together at least for our clients, that are really going to boost from a retail side and not just along bringing a patient in to talk to the doctor.
Corey: Yeah. And then speaking of the retail side, so we did talk about the in office sort of conversion training, but another thing I thought was really interesting as it relates to sort of this conversion training retail side component is, prepping the patients before they get there. So there’s a-
Jennifer: Patient readiness.
Corey: Yes. So there was this one practice, and she gave an example where once it was identified sort of what the patient was coming in for, they would actually put together a series of videos. They have like a big playlist already sort of outline, and they would say, “Okay. So Suzie’s coming in, she needs to watch video two, seven, and 10.” And then they would send that to Suzie in an email and basically they wanted the patient to be ready when they came in. They would brand the practice, they would say, “Our doctors are the best. We set a new standard in care.” Blah, blah, blah. “We’re improving sight, improving lives. Here are some of the ways that we do that.” And then they would outline some of the premium options that are there. So that way when Suzie came into the chair, one, it would decrease chair time, so it’s a little bit more efficient. But two, she sort of had in her mind already that, “Well, maybe that multifocal lens is what I want to do.” And then it wasn’t as overwhelming for her of a choice when she’s sitting there talking to the counselor or whatever on her way out, where she had to go home and think about it. She said, “Yup. That’s for me.”
Jennifer: Yeah. And they said that they saw a dramatic increase in conversions at the practice, when they came in. Because like Corey, like you just said, Suzie’s hit was something that’s going to be $6,000 per eye, she might want to mull over the possibility of dropping $12,000 out of pocket-
Corey: I would.
Jennifer: Before she comes in. And that helps get her through whatever the emotional protocol she has to get to where she can make a decision.
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Jennifer: I think that what was also interesting from the patient readiness stuff, so they were talking about dropping maybe something in the mail to your patients, a welcome package.
Jennifer: The videos were there, having the videos where you set them up where you can see when the patient actually views them. We have a practice that we’re working with on several drip campaigns, specifically and it’s right in line with patient readiness, and it’s actually an Ophthalmology practice. And so we’ll be taking a lot of this back and as we set up those campaigns, from a sales side because it’s specifically to address this type of thing. But what it really got me going back to is, this presentation that we were in too, when they were talking about patient readiness, was also very largely entrenched in the whole generational thing. And I think that your Baby Boomer may not feel like she wants to be watching a video before she comes in, but this next generation of me, the Generation X may very easily watch a video. And the generation following, if your patient is Corey, well he is expecting that he’s going to watch a video. He’s going to be wanting all that education ahead of time. And that’s right in line with … What were they saying about Generation Z and how they’ll be the best patients when they finally-
Corey: When they have money.
Jennifer: Get some money?
Corey: Yeah. Because so Generation Z has basically always grown up with a device essentially in their hand, so they will expect these customized experiences. They are going to want that video that we’re talking about, the next generation is going to expect their name to be in the video, because it’s customized to them and it’s going to talk specific to their needs. And when they have money, they’re going to be so well informed and so well researched, they are going to … Like for example, they were talking about buying a new TV. So Generation Z is going to walk in and say, “Give me the money or they’re going to go on Amazon and they’re going to make that purchase, they don’t need a sales person because they know all the information already.
Jennifer: They’ve done all the research.
Corey: Right. It’s just a matter of, they don’t have any of those funds yet. So that’s coming though.
Jennifer: That is coming and that’s something to pay attention to. So one of the other kind of key takeaways that I took was … So we go to a lot of conferences it feels like, and I was also a speaker at this conference which is why we were there. And once we’ve already committed to going as a speaker, we always sign up and then go to all the sessions so we can learn. But in years past, we’ve been talking about online reviews a lot. And integrating that into our marketing component and kind of monitoring what people are saying about you online, and making sure you claim your profile’s etcetera.
Jennifer: My talk was on social media customer service, but really the piece of that talk is, social media plus customer service, that’s your reputation online. And this was a discussion point across so many sessions is, “How do you use the reviews and the word of mouth that’s taking place online and translate that into an opportunity for marketing your practice?” I had a session that I attended this morning where there was a firm that was talking about, “Is there a correlation between your star rating and your traffic to your website and the number of appointments that you’re seeing?” And he quoted out a number that once you get down below a 4.3 star rating, that you can quantify it to traffic on your website and appointment requests. So I’m going to take that back to our office and take a look at that metric across all of the clients that we work with and so I’ll come back on a different episode and remind you of that.
Jennifer: But there was just a lot of conversation about online reviews, about the role that the reviews are now playing in bringing new patients in the door, about how they play into search engine optimization for your practice, and how now, you need to be really front and center on online reviews and having the protocol in place to deal with it. Because at the end of the day, customer service, there’s a necessity to elevate it because everything is so public out there.
Corey: Yeah. For sure. And so like anything, if you were looking at a restaurant and they had one review and it was a five star you’d say, “Well, it’s rated well but it’s only one person, I don’t know if I trust that place.” And same on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, if your practice had just one review on Google and somebody talked about how gross the bathroom was, then to the potential patient, they may not schedule that appointment. But then later, when they’re talking it over with their family, they could say, “I don’t know, I heard that place was kind of dirty.” All they saw was one review, one sentence, but all of a sudden, you have a reputation and someone is going around telling people that they know that your facility isn’t clean, which may not necessarily be the case.
Jennifer: Case in point, we’re walking down the streets of San Diego yesterday for lunch trying to figure out where to eat, we come up to this place and I’m like, “Wait a minute. We only get one lunch a day, let’s double check it.” So we pull it up on Yelp and they had 2,000 4.5 star reviews, we went right in and sat down and had a $100 lunch.
Jennifer: Because it’s expensive in San Diego.
Corey: Shout out to barleymash, because that food was so good.
Jennifer: I think we have one more shout out.
Corey: Who’s that?
Corey: Oh, hey Bevens.
Jennifer: Hey Bevens, from Array Skin Therapy in San Diego area. We’ve been laughing about that all week Bevens, because you gave us a shout out via email and said how much you enjoy the podcast, and we wanted to make sure we shouted out back to you.
Corey: I’m so glad you remembered to do that.
Jennifer: Yeah. Now Bevens, I hope you listen to this one and then you tell us.
Corey: Yeah. We’re going to test you. All right. Last takeaway for me, social reminders. So nothing crazy here. But it was just interesting to hear like sort of the topics reiterated. So we sat in a class on social media and it was just a nice reminder that people want their lifestyle changed more than they want anything else. So if you’re doing your won social media, obviously you’re going to want to post some educational content, that’s fine. But just think of it like this, you don’t go to a restaurant website and they have like pictures of the oven. So on your website on your social media, people, they don’t want to go there and they don’t want to see the cataract machine, the LASIK machine, whatever. You have the latest technology, great, well so does everybody else.
Corey: And what they want is the lifestyle. The want to see the woman on the golf course holding a golf ball, or saying that she can drive without glasses again, that she can read without any sort of contacts or glasses or whatever. Because those are the things that really resonate. If you can do that with a real patient, even better. Because that’s what we talk about all the time with the patient forward kind of approach, but they were just sort of reinforcing that they don’t want to hear more about the procedures or how many you did, they just want to know the outcomes and how that changed their life.
Corey: And so the number that they threw out was 80% should be focused on sort of this engagement and this results based kind of stuff, and 20% is maybe on educational, business, those kinds of things. Because as you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook as the Gen X and Millennials are starting to do, and you really are trying to reinforce brand awareness and your brand messaging, you don’t want to always see these educational pieces because that’s not what we like to call, “Thumb stopping” content, that’s just content … The doctor may like it, you may think it’s good, but really it’s focus about the lifestyle, the office, the practice, the people there that make the culture. Because that’s what’s going to get potential patients to come in.
Jennifer: Absolutely. And I think that one thing that I kept getting out of the conversations regarding the social is, tying your employees into that equation.
Jennifer: Because you’ve got employees that are interacting with patients and then you have patients interacting with employees and with physicians, those are the stories you want to tell. Part of our topic from my talk was, social media customer service was, customer service how you can change that conversations, or how you can take control of the conversation. And this is how you take control of that conversation. I think it was interesting too is, there was a lot of discussion about the hiring practices. And the way that the market is right now, of how your potential employees are leaning into social media to see if it might be a good environment for them to work in. So you’re really putting your best foot forward.
Jennifer: You’ve got the employee experience and the patient experience, and you have to lean really heavily into engagement on both side so that you can overall increase that experience. And so I think I don’t want to lose sight of that, because you’ve got, “Yes, you’re so focused on bringing in patients, but you need to have a great workforce. And at the end of the day, I heard this question several times, “Who’s more important, your patients or your employees?”
Corey: Ooh, that’s a great question.
Jennifer: It was nine out of 10 times, the focus should be on your employees because like Richard Branson says this all the time, “If you invest in your people, your people will take care of your customers. But if you don’t have a good team in place, then all hell’s going to break loose when it comes to your customers.” And so focusing on your people and creating that level of engagement will help you control that conversation and to start that conversation about how fantastic your practice is. So it all starts and ends with your people, they’ll take care of the patients.
Corey: No, that makes sense. And then if the people are better trained, you have better outcomes, better compliance-
Jennifer: There you go.
Corey: Etcetera, etcetera. Yeah.
Jennifer: So if you only have 15 hours in a day that you can work, you better be putting about 13 hours into making sure that your folks are happy, they’re educated, they feel communicated with, and whatnot.
Corey: Perfect. Yeah. And overall though, I would say, great conference, great job from everybody at ASOA and hopefully we’ll be back soon.
Jennifer: Yeah. Hopefully we’ll see you next year and with that, I’m Jennifer …
Corey: I’m Corey.
Jennifer: And we’ll see you next time on the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. Thank you.
Corey: Bye guys.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the drmarketingtips.com podcast. If there’s anything from today’s show you want to learn more about, check out drmarketingtips.com for our podcast resource center with all the notes, links, and goodies we mentioned during the show. If you’re not already a subscriber to our show, please consider pressing the subscribe button in your podcast player so you never miss one of our future episodes. And if you haven’t given us a rating or review yet on iTunes, please, find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our medical practice peers. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll catch you next time. Doctors orders.
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