April 2022

Unique CE, Especially for You

From the SNAPP Board

Eye care professionals have plenty of choices when it comes to earning continuing education (CE) credits, but we’d like you to consider earning up to 11 hours of high-quality CE at the 2022 SNAPP annual meeting, Sept. 14-16, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Vendors and speakers see great value in delivering timely and dynamic programs to SNAPP members because of the influence our members wield in the community. And, by being right there in the room with other Licensed Operators and Pearle-affiliated optometrists, everyone has the chance to collaborate with colleagues and learn from each other.

It is CE tailored for Pearle Vision affiliates, with a goal of enabling us to do more for our patients and operate our locations profitably and efficiently.

In addition, it’s also fun. SNAPP members have become friends over the years as we share these ideas and experiences at our meetings. The SNAPP Board is putting final touches on the 2022 meeting agenda, so you’ll hear more about that as time goes on. But for now, make it a point to save the dates and join us in September!

We can’t wait to see everyone again.

Visit our 2022 meeting page online to keep up with the growing agenda and exciting lineup of speakers as we start to fill in those details.

Member Experiences

A Change of Scenery Allows for Reassessment

Shortly into the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin Copeland, OD, and his wife and practice partner, Tracy Bildstein, OD, had a “once-in-a-year opportunity” to opt out of the lease for their Pearle Vision location inside a mall. They took that and moved into a freestanding building in Coralville, Iowa, near Cedar Rapids. “We were already wrestling with whether to make that move, but the pandemic made it a “clear choice,” Dr. Copeland says. “Malls around the country were closing or traffic was way down—and the move gave us more space, a factor that everyone greatly appreciated when we reopened.”

Dr. Copeland and Dr. Bildstein

With social distancing and safety protocols in mind, the team also took the opportunity to reassess patient flow. “We instituted more of a one-way flow. Previously, the front desk was the hub, with everyone checking in for appointments, coming in for pickups or paying their bills,” he says. Now, patients still check in at the front desk but then are sent immediately to where they need to be. If patients are there to pick up eyewear, an optician greets them. If they’re there for an appointment, a technician escorts them to the pretesting area and then to the exam room. From there, patients move directly to the optical, and the optician handles the rest. “It worked really well during COVID-19, and now we’ve made the changes permanent,” he says.

Equipped with the pandemic in mind

The new space has four exam lanes and two pretest rooms, one of which could be converted into an exam room, if the need arises. “Another thing we did—that I didn’t even know we wanted—was to invest in a Topcon automated refraction system. Everyone seems to enjoy the fact we no longer must directly face each other for extended periods of time in the exam room,” he says.

Some processes implemented during COVID-19 were not so high-tech. Several simple and inexpensive protocols have proven to be quite effective. “We went to Target, bought simple photo frames and used our printer to print signs that said ‘Clean.’ Now, when staff turns a room, the employee leaves that sign on the chair, so when the patient walks in, we can say, ‘This room has been cleaned.’ It’s a nice touch, and patients like it.”

Working smarter

Dr. Copeland says he and his wife decided to “staff-up” rather than downsize during the pandemic. The sanitizing and cleaning work requires more time—and the doctors want to leave by 6 p.m. every night. “We have three kids, and there’s some activity every night of the week. I tell my staff, ‘If you’re smart, you’ll leave when we do. Get done what’s most important but do the rest in the morning.’” Staff members appreciate knowing the doctors value their time as well.

As a result, staff works hard and is committed to maintaining the atmosphere of professionalism and safety. “We heard the practice of wiping down frames after patients have tried them on may not be necessary anymore, so I asked staff if those steps were distracting them from other duties. My optician said the staff would continue to sanitize frames. We are all more aware of cleanliness standards, and the staff works hard to keep them up.”

On Being a SNAPP Member

SNAPP Members Share Generously

Ever since Martin Copeland, OD, of Coralville, Iowa, went to his first SNAPP meeting, he hasn’t missed one. “SNAPP has been immeasurably helpful. The organization taught me how generous people are. The notion is that there’s plenty to go around.”

In addition to the meetings, Dr. Copeland appreciates how SNAPP members help each other. “I have gone to Las Vegas to visit Pearle Vision practices there, as well as Gary Tonsager and some others in Minneapolis. Before I became involved with SNAPP, it felt like doctors tended to guard their own ideas. But I was floored by how generous people have been with their ideas and their time. We all seem to understand that’s the way we can help each other.”

How has being a SNAPP member helped you? Click here; one of our editors will get in touch with you.

SNAPP Experts

New Dry Eye Treatments—Part 2

Lisa Hamilton, OD, visits with Kerry Gelb, OD, who hosts the Open Your Eyes podcast series. She discusses the kinds of questions she asks to help gauge patients’ dry eye signs and symptoms. “About 50 percent of my adults say they have symptoms that are significant enough to have them come back for a dry eye assessment and additional testing,” she says. Listen here.

Billing Tip of the Month from VisionWeb

Why All This Talk About Metrics?

By Amanda Whitener,
Revenue Cycle Management Team at VisionWeb

Tracking and reviewing key performance indicators and metrics for your practice can seem a bit daunting. The typical practice owner is so busy working IN the practice that there isn’t a lot of time left to work ON the practice.

Taking a little time to analyze your data is essential, but it’s easier said than done. You can “get by” without reviewing metrics, but having a solid list of them can open your eyes to the direction your practice is heading. Here are a few that should be easy to obtain and will help you move forward in the right direction.

Cash Month-Over-Month—Total dollars collected compared to the same month in the previous year

• If time permits, obtain the numbers for managed vision care plans, medical plans and patient responsibility. Do you know who your most profitable payers are? Simply take the gross revenue by payer and divide it by the number of patients you saw.

Encounter Volume—The number of patients seen compared to the number of claims filed, for a given period

• Many times, we find that new clients have a problem with initial submission of their insurance claims. It’s difficult to get paid when the claim was never submitted.

Number of Rejections—Number of claims submitted but rejected by the clearinghouse or payer

• Overturning a rejection could be as easy as making sure the patient’s middle initial is on the claim form. However, many times these things go unworked, leaving valuable cash on the table. Verifying that your team is working your rejections actively is crucial.

• Once reviewed, this information should help find the root issue(s). Eliminating rejections, rather than waiting to fix them on the back end is imperative in making your cashflow more consistent.

Denial Percentages—Various stats surrounding your denials

• You should know the practice’s average denial percentage to have a baseline for indicating if there is an atypical increase one month. Is it a problem with your submission or a problem with the payer? Being able to compare your denial rate with that of the industry will help you answer that question.

• Do you know your denial percentages by line item rather than claim level? Tracking which CPT codes are denying can help in correcting the systemic issue causing the denials in the first place.

The four metrics mentioned above are a great start to analyzing your practice. Challenge yourself to nail those metrics, and then each month add a new one to measure. Before you know it, people may start asking you how to track and review their practice’s metrics!

Reach out to Amanda with any other billing questions you have here; she might have the solution for you.

Practice Management Corner

To Mask or Not to Mask—Is That the Question?

By Joe DeLoach,
Practice Compliance Solutions

It’s been a trying couple of years, but it does appear the end is in sight. With the myriad of regulations enacted during the pandemic, many stakeholders are asking, “Where in the world are we right now?”

The bottom line is… there are no federal mandates on anything right now. Let’s try to simplify.

OSHA pulled its Emergency Temporary Standard, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not revised its recommendations from last summer. The CDC recommendations—not requirements—are that health care offices continue to use masks, practice social distancing and employ stringent disinfection standards. The CDC Emergency Temporary Standard for screening patients (posted or asked questions only) is still in effect. This means that each leaseholder and/or doctor makes their own decisions regarding all precautions for infection control.

While this seems to reset the clock, many states, counties and cities still have pandemic control mandates in place. These can include masking, social distancing, infection control, patient screening and even vaccination requirements. Be sure you check with your state and locality as these local rules are still in effect regardless of federal action.

If you have any questions, contact Practice Compliance Solutions. Here’s to good health!

HR Corner from AmCheck

Qualities of the Best Managers

The best managers work hard to improve the work lives of their team members. A big part of that is setting and communicating clear expectations. The most effective managers focus on performance, so their people get better at what they do by empowering employees to identify development areas that matter the most to them. The best managers recognize and advocate for their people. They listen carefully to understand what their people need to be successful, and they aim to deliver it.

These managers are empathetic, understanding and supportive. They’re available to troubleshoot problems, brainstorm ideas and provide guidance on projects. They communicate effectively and correct mistakes in ways that build people up rather than tear them down. They teach what they know and always seek to learn. They have an eye for equity.

Here are some ways you can produce more effective managers and nurture the traits that make managers great.

1. Train new managers after you’ve promoted them

When you promote stellar employees into managerial roles, you also must give them the tools to manage people successfully. They may feel ready to lead a team, but it’s up to the employer to be certain they know the responsibilities involved, and how your organization wants them to execute those responsibilities.

It also doesn’t hurt to prepare new managers for the role before you hire or promote them into it. Talk with them about what the job will be like, especially if they haven’t managed before. Go over what’s needed and what’s nice to have. Be open about the struggles and the stress the new manager can expect to experience. Make sure they have the desire to manage.

2. Practice presence

Most managers don’t want to or have the time to micromanage. They hope their reports have the skills and knowledge to do the job they were hired to do, and so they take a hands-off approach and let their reports get to it. Or they’re too busy with their own projects to do anything more than basic managerial duties. But that’s a sure way to see projects or tasks go off-track, especially if managers don’t make themselves available for troubleshooting or provide clarity on instructions.

Remind your managers to treat silence from their reports as an opportunity to check in, offer an ear, problem-solve or simply cheerlead. Check-ins don’t have to be formal or overwhelming or take more time than necessary. Less formal than a software tracking system but still as productive, a scheduled check-in call (at an agreed-upon frequency) gives managers insight into projects and helps employees feel heard and celebrated.

3. Guide the guiders

Good managers don’t necessarily have all the answers—but they know where to get them. Company leadership should aim to provide managers at all levels with the resources and training they need to do their best for their reports. Do your people-leaders have access to mentors either inside the company or with partners or resource groups, and do you encourage these relationships? Mentorship programs, “day-in-the-life-of” presentations or even informal programs that connect managers from different departments can provide managers with inspiration and support.

4. Promote teamwork among managers

Are your managers operating as a team? Each of your managers has a distinct personality and approach to management that affects their leadership style. To bring managers together, you need something to unite them. This is your company culture—the personality of the organization, its mission and values, working environment, policies and practices. Ensure your managers are following consistent management practices, making decisions aligned with the values of the company and regularly communicating with one another about their needs, obstacles and workforce changes.

Neither good managers nor bad managers exist in a vacuum. They have either the support or the inattention of company leadership—and the latter may lead to dangerous consequences. A culture of poor management can lead to employee dissatisfaction, burnout and increased turnover, all of which can be costly. An investment in selecting with intention and training your managers is not just an investment in them, but an investment in the company.

News of Interest

Might the Next COVID-19 Vaccine Be a Nasal Spray?

While COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have been helpful at protecting people from severe hospitalization and death, they have been less effective at preventing symptomatic cases of the disease. Now researchers are looking at novel ways to keep COVID-19 from infecting human cells.

Researchers at Cornell University have been testing a nasal spray that blocks COVID-19 infection. Their study discovered a small molecule that, if sprayed into the nose, may help prevent COVID-19 from infecting cells.

How Eye Imaging Technology Could Help Robots and Cars See Better

Engineers at Duke University demonstrated a light detection and ranging system that is fast and accurate enough that it could potentially improve the vision of autonomous systems such as driverless cars and robotic manufacturing plants, using lessons learned from the eye-imaging technology optical coherence tomography (OCT).

Even though robots don’t have eyes with retinas, the key to helping them see and interact with the world more naturally and safely may rest in OCT machines commonly found in eye care offices. Click here for more information.

Eye Tracking Provides Clues on Harassment

According to a New Edwin University team, looking at people’s bodies, rather than their faces, may be linked with harmful attitudes toward sexual assault. The team used eye tracking technology and self-reported measures to examine how men and women look at the opposite sex.

An interesting finding was that excessive body gaze or ogling is one sign a person is likely to believe women tolerate or invite rough sexual conduct. Click here for more information.

Getty Images photo credits—metrics: PeopleImages; mask: CentrallTAlliance; managers: Philip Steury; nasal spray: ProfessionalStudioImages; robot: voyager624; and eye tracking: Peter Finch.

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