Certification Program Cultivates Unity
By Bill Kekevian, Senior Associate Editor
■ Front office staffers at Drs. Fine, Hoffman, Packer, & Sims, in Eugene Oregon, are among the first in the nation to receive the Certified Patient Service Specialist (CPSS) credential. The CPSS credential, offered by BSM consulting, requires applicants to complete various online courses and all-inclusive tests. Altogether, nine members of the practice’s staff received certification.
Jennifer Laing, OCS, is the business office manager at Drs. Fine, Hoffman, Packer, & Sims. She says the certification program has elevated the staff’s confidence and that translates to happier customers.
“This certification has benefited our practice in many ways, but it most impacted front staff member confidence. They each earned a certificate and pin we now display on our wall at the checkout desk, and they each have to earn 15 continuing education credits every three years to keep their certification,” she says.
From left to right: Ricki Shipway, Laurie K. Brown, Christina Roman, Laura Reynolds, Brenna Cochran, Tony Reynolds, Carolyn Ketch Jennifer Laing, Joan Phillips
Front office staff members are the first and last to contact patients and that, she says, leaves an impression. Front office staffers also have a variety of important tasks from helping to triage emergencies, to maintaining a wealth of knowledge regarding insurance, HIPAA, and financial policies. She says it’s for this reason that recognizing their contribution with this kind of program is important.
“On average staff members studied 1-2 months prior to taking the test,” Ms. Laing explains. “We studied in a variety of ways, but the most fun was at a staff meeting during which we played Jeopardy. I created slides and had prizes for the winners. It created unity and really reduced the anxiety everyone was feeling.”
STUDY SHOWS IMPROVEMENT IN DRIVING-RELATED OUTCOMES
Ranibizumab May Preserve Licences
By René Luthe, Contributing Editor
■ Monthly injections of ranibizumab (Lucentis, Genentech) for patients suffering from wet AMD may enable AMD patients to retain their licenses longer, according to a study lead by Neil M. Bressler, MD, of Wilmer Eye Institute. The phase 3, multi-site, randomized clinical trial examined 1,126 patients over a two-year period. Researchers used a 25-item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire to measure participants driving ability, perception and self-reported driving status in two studies. They also conducted monthly assessments of the best-corrected vision in each eye of the participants to evaluate the efficacy treatments for AMD. One group looked at ranibizumab vs. sham injections; the second compared results for ranibizumab injections to those for photodynamic therapy (PDT).
The reports showed that ranibizumab was more effective in avoiding vision loss than sham, researchers found, and PDT as well. The most recent analysis of the trials, however, focused on the impacts of the treatments that were relevant to driving. Investigators looked at treatment vs. no treatment in participants who said they were driving or not driving at the beginning and end of the study; treatment vs. no treatment in those who had vision at the beginning and end of the study that would qualify them for an unrestricted driver’s license in at least 45 of the U.S. states; and a standardized questionnaire assessing the patient’s own perception about the level of difficulty driving in conditions.
Study: Patients Start to Warm up to Electronic Contacts
By Bill Kekevian, Senior Associate Editor
■ Are patients more “connected” than you think? A survey by Wills Eye Hospital suggests more are coming around to receiving contacts on electronic devices.
While traditional phone calls to landlines still dominated patients preferred contact method, with 55% opting to receive information and reminders that way, the second most preferred method was email, which garnered support from 43.1% of patients polled.
On a 1-5 preference scale, patients rated e-mail communications at 4.4 in terms of comfort of use. Receiving text messages from a doctor’s office was less popular, with only 14.5% interested in that method. The use of social networking sites like Facebook lags behind with only 3.7% interest.
The study polled 400 ophthalmic patients beginning in July 2011. Of those polled, 82.8% owned a cell phone, even more than the 77.6% who owned a home phone. While 69% owned a computer, only 15.3% owned a tablet computer.
1. Martinez P, et al. An assessment of ophthalmic patients’ utilization of technological devices and social media platforms. ARVO 2012 (abstract).
‘Glaucoma Day’ Event Helps in Communication
By conducting a Glaucoma Patient Day attended by almost 300 medical professionals, patients and patient advocates, Ananth C. Viswanathan and a team of patient advocates at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London were able to consult with patients, address their concerns, answer lingering questions and receive feedback. Patients reported the question-and-answer session to be the most valuable in addressing fears and concerns.
Reference: Ananth C. Viswanathan, et al. Glaucoma Patient Day: Involving patients, improving care, prioritizing research. ARVO 2012 (abstract)
Survey: Patients Prefer Medicare to Private Insurance
Medicare patients are more satisfied with their health insurance, have better access to care and are less likely to have problems paying medical bills than people who get insurance through employers or those who purchase coverage on their own, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study published by Health Affairs. The telephone survey encompassed 4,004 people age 19 and older. The survey found that only 8% of Medicare beneficiaries rated their insurance as fair or poor, compared with 20% of adults with employer insurance and 33% who purchased their own insurance.
CMS: Meaningful use now required by 2014
CMS has announced the timeline for implementing “meaningful use” of electronic health records has been pushed back a year. Providers are not required to meet Stage 2 meaningful use before 2014.
Health and Human Services also pushed back the deadline for adopting the ICD-10 diagnostic coding system to Oct. 1, 2014. The postponement follows the protest of many healthcare organizations that the original deadline of Oct. 1, 2013 imposed too great a regulatory burden on medical practices.
Present Staff With a Gold Star
Cynthia Matossian, MD, FACS, Matossian Eye Associates
Our practice e-mails a nine-question post-visit survey to every patient who provides us with an e-mail address. If one of our staff receives an unsolicited compliment by name from a patient via the on-line survey (or via a written note to our office), that person is honored with a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks, Walmart, Target or Dunkin Donuts (their choice). These “Gold Star Rewards” are presented at our weekly FDOA meeting [that is, Front Desk staff (FD), Ophthalmic Assisting staff (OA) and billing staff].
This issue we asked for tips on managing patient anxiety
Show Your Commitment to Cleanliness
Jane T. Shuman, COT, COE, OCS President, Eyetechs
Patients today are concerned about the spread of germs. As you seat the patient, wipe down the occluder, phoropter and slit lamp so he or she can see you also care about the spread of infection. Don’t forget to clean or change the tonometer tip or cover in advance of measuring the patient’s pressure. Done prior to instilling drops, the prism tip has plenty of time to dry and is far more effective in assuaging the patients concern that it may not be clean.
Explain the Process
Tony Reynolds, COT, OCS Dr. Fine, Hoffman & Packer
My advice is to immediately introduce yourself, your position within the practice, explain what you’re going to do and make eye contact. This goes a long way in making the patient feel comfortable right off because now, they know the process and what to expect.
Allow Patients to Express Their Fears
Ashlie Barefoot, MBA Practice Administrator Carolina Cataract & Laser Center
Get the patient to talk about why they are nervous and explain to them what will happen so those fears can be addressed. Giving them an opportunity to express their fears and know they are being heard is almost immediately effective at calming patients.
Put the Patient in Control
Sue Stuhr, COT, OCS Dr. Fine, Hoffman & Packer
For those with concerns about dilation I always ask, “is it the drops going in or the after effects?” It is almost always the act of getting the drops. In that case, I tip the chair back, have the patient close his or her eyes and put drops in the inside corner of each eye allowing the patient to blink the drops in. When the patient does that, they feel more in control and therefore less stressed.
Paul M. Larson, MBA, MMSc, COMT, COE, CPC, CPMA
Associate Consultant Corcoran Consulting Group
Since a great deal of our patients are elderly, when I sense anxiety during the visit, asking about grandchildren is often enough to defect their feelings from themselves for a short while. It shows that you care about the whole person and can go a long way to develop loyalty to your providers as well.
Explain Purpose of Each Test
Jon Cassidy, COMT, OCS
Dr. Fine, Hoffman & Packer
It is important that the technician indicate to the patient what each test is as it is performed and, as needed, how tests will help the physician in the diagnosis and treatment of the patient. These interactions will assist in putting the patient at ease and help them to better understand the exam process.
What is Your Tip?
We welcome you to share your practice tips and advice with the readers of Ophthalmic Professional. Please submit tips for consideration of publication to William Kekevian, senior associate editor, at email@example.com. Please limit your tips to no more than 150 words.
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