Member Spotlight: Blythewood Eye Care
Marcy Jackson, Office Manager for Blythewood Eye Care in Blythewood, SC, got the idea for their practice to partake in a “Patient of the Day” exercise due to her personal experience being treated for breast cancer several years prior.
“I wondered if the clinic knew how I felt? There was a lack of communication, a lack of things being explained to me,” Jackson says. “Here I was, a breast cancer patient, sitting in a room under a vent with cold air being blown on me, not knowing what a certain test was for. And then I’d get a resentful look from the technician when they had to stop and explain something to me.”
In order to ensure their practice provided a better level of care to their patients, the “Patient of the Day” exercise was officially born. As part of the exercise, each of Blythewood’’s six staff members take turns going through the patient journey – from being checked in, to going through pretesting, performing the exam with the doctor, choosing eyewear products – and they are able to provide honest feedback at the end of their “visit.”
“I have the staff member come in through the front door. I want to know everything; how the outside looks, how do our flowers look?” Jackson explains. “We want them to see and experience everything that a patient would.”
“When you sign in, was the front desk friendly? Did we seem genuinely happy to see you, or did you feel like just another number? Because that’s not what we want,” she says.
“We believe that patients are our family. We treat each and every patient like our mother and father sitting there. When you can do that, then everything else falls into place,” Jackson explains.
Patient-Focused Care At Every Step
Jackson says that while the office should be efficient and patients should not be waiting very long, the proper amount of time should be taken for things that matter to the patients.
“One of the things that bothered me most as a patient was not knowing what people were doing when I was undergoing cancer treatment and tests,” she says. At Blythewood, everything is explained to patients.
“We tell them, this refraction testing gives us an overview of your eye. We test your blood pressure because high blood pressure is the leading cause of blindness in the United States,” Jackson explains. “With the eye pressure test, we explain that high eye pressure can be an indicator of glaucoma.”
Another extra measure Blythewood takes is demonstrating equipment cleanliness. “While we are explaining the pretesting to patients, they see us opening up an alcohol swab and wiping down the equipment we’ll be using,” she says. “I’ve had so many patients come back and tell me that they always wondered if it was clean or not, and that they were relieved that we did that.”
“We also make a point of asking the patient how things were after their visit—how long was your wait? Did you get all of your questions answered?” Jackson adds.
Changes That Lead to Patient Loyalty and Better Health
Staff members who go through the “Patient of the Day” exercise give their feedback to Marcy and share it with the rest of the office at their weekly meetings. “It’s amazing what you notice as a patient,” Jackson says. “Sometimes you see see a spider web in the corner of the ceiling, or last year’s Christmas decoration is still on the counter.”
Jackson says fortunately, her staff members are not usually defensive or territorial about the feedback.
“When we hire people, we stress this is a no-conflict office, you never say anything bad about a patient, because you never know what kind of day they had, and we stay positive,” she says.
“I tell everyone, if you see something is not conducive for a fabulous experience, let’s discuss it at our meeting,” she says. “We’re all in this together.”
As a result, the practice is thriving. “We see 12-16 patients a day, and our appointments are scheduled six weeks out,” Jackson says. “We get referrals all the time, and some of our patients drive from 100 miles away to see our doctor. And we’ve gotten hundreds of five-star reviews on social media.”
“We just want to make sure the patients get everything they need,” Jackson says. “I believe that if they don’t feel comfortable, they’ll skip a year. If you make them feel like family, they’ll keep their appointments, and we can do our job of keeping them healthy.”