Halpern’s Lean Practice Management Cuts No-Shows in Half

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Last October, Halpern Eye Care opened its Kirkwood Highway Midway Shopping Center location in Bloomington, Del.
DOVER, Del.—Halpern Eye Care, under the management of the family practice’s third generation, Ryan Halpern, OD, has recently implemented strategies to improve patient flow and to take advantage of economies of scale for this nine-location regional group along with the six-location Vision Associates practice it acquired in Maryland last year.

By enlisting Practice CoPilot’s lean practice management consulting, Halpern Eye Care has kept its schedule full, cut its no-show rate in half, unclogged patient flow and reduced stress while improving morale among staff and doctors.

Earlier this year, Practice CoPilot spent a week observing Halpern Eye Care’s operations, noting roadblocks and bottlenecks in the patient flow process. Ryan Halpern described the process: “They meet with you the first day to lay out goals and concentrate on the area that you want to correct. At that point, you can be as interactive as you want,” he said, indicating that after that the staff becomes much more involved than company leadership.

After the week of observation, staff members representing the varied positions and locations within the practice were brought together for two days of brainstorming. Practice CoPilot presented their observations, and then the group was divided into small pods tasked with developing solutions for specific problems. “They didn’t just tell us what they found and what to do to fix it,” said Christy Jones, Halpern’s operations manager. “Instead, together we tried to find out the best solutions.”

Some of the specific solutions Halpern developed as a direct result of Practice CoPilot’s involvement affected the call center. Because their observations revealed that far too much time was being spent on appointment scheduling and duplicating efforts to confirm what insurance coverage certain patients had, they developed a procedure that now ensures all of this information is confirmed long before the day of the appointment.

 
  Representing the family’s third
generation, Ryan Halpern, OD,
was named president of Halpern
Eye Care in 2010.
The practice also added two full-time insurance authorization specialists to the centralized Halpern Eye Care call center. Now, insurance is confirmed long before a patient’s appointment, eliminating last minute hassles and cancellations. “When the authorization specialists call back, they give patients 24 hours to respond or else get canceled,” said Jones. “We get them off our books rather than leaving them there wondering if they’ll show up.”

Observations and brainstorming also influenced a change in the way Halpern Eye Care dilates patients, according to Chuck Smith, managing partner of Practice CoPilot. This reduced the doctor’s time in the exam room, resulting in a savings of up to five minutes per patient.

Ultimately, after the Halpern team implemented the procedural changes and experienced their results, the way they perceive the practice’s overall operations has changed. “They totally changed our way of looking at things. If a problem is occurring among six people in the call center, it’s probably the process that’s broken. So now we look at the process first before looking at anything else,” said Jones.

While it was through benchmarking that they were able to determine that no-shows were cut from 8.86 percent in March 2013 to 4.89 percent in March 2014, Dr. Halpern pointed out that not all results are measurable. “Some things are just not capable of being benchmarked.” These include the overall patient experience and the employees’ stress level and sense of morale, he said.

“Those we can feel,” added Jones, who agreed with Dr. Halpern that these aspects of running the regional group practice had also improved along with the substantial reduction in no-shows.

jsailer@jobson.com