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Spend Money To Make Money – An Article From Women in Optometry

Original Article Published in Women in Optometry

Shonda Achord, OD, of Achord Eye Clinic in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hasn’t looked back since switching to the Marco Diagnostic Solutions TRS Refraction System. While she had already outgrown paper charts, she still found the switch expedited the whole process. “I can’t imagine the practice without it,” she says. The five-lane practice has a TRS in two lanes where Dr. Achord works, and her associates use the other lanes but can rotate through these two in her absence.

When she first brought in the TRS Refraction System, she found the refraction process to be so much faster that she felt her whole day could be restructured. “I felt like I could do four to five more exams per day—even before I added the OPD-Scan III wavefront aberrometer,” she says. “It’s just that efficient.” She has also found that with great technology comes a great reputation. “Patients were really impressed with it… so all that plays into the practice’s reputation. The wow factor is present, too. Patients always comment on it.”

GROWING, GROWING, GROWN
Part of Dr. Achord’s growth is attributed to an expansion she undertook. “I went from 1,600 square feet to 3,750 square feet, and I already wish I had more space,” she says. The practice has three doctors—Dr. Achord and two associates. While there are only two of them at a time there daily, the five exam lanes plus workup room/exam lane are always in use. She has seen a major change in patient flow already, with 30 percent of her patients currently being new to the practice. “I couldn’t do that before because we didn’t have the space or capacity for more patients,” she says. Despite her initial reluctance to move to a larger space, the lesson is the same one she passes on to doctors about equipment and technology: “If you don’t spend money, you won’t make more.”

“When I first added Marco technology, growth was the point,” she says. “Being able to fit in more patients and do it well was what I wanted. Now my goal is efficiency. I’m not trying to see a huge number of patients per day, but it frees up time that I can use in conversation and communication.”

Patients prefer it, too. “Refractions make people nervous,” says Dr. Achord. “When I have to dial it into a manual phoropter, it’s not as impressive as showing them their earlier prescription and the new one with the push of a button.” She has found that patients being able to see the differences for themselves has translated into the sale of more eyewear. “I didn’t like being the one to say, ‘Well, it changed this much so you should get new eyeglasses.’ If the Rx change didn’t make enough of a difference to them but I had told them they should buy new eyewear, then they may not trust me as much.” With the new system, Dr. Achord and her associates are able to let the patient decide for themselves with all the information in hand. Dr. Achord also has found few to no transcription errors, which has led to fewer remakes of eyeglasses.

The new system has proven to be useful in making up for closings and reduced volume during the pandemic. “We want to get patients in and out as fast as we can,” she says. At the same time, “We have to see people and catch up for the time we were closed, so we have to be efficient.” When it comes to the OPD, Dr. Achord praises its efficiency in helping her assess the issue. “It gives us topography, so right away I can see if there’s a reason that the patient might not achieve 20/20,” she says. “It’s an amazing instrument, and it saves me and the patient time and frustration.” She finds that the more information she has, the better she can advise the patient moving forward. “I can explain that the topography shows what issues we can’t overcome easily and what the options and/or compromises might be.”

She’s happy to share with her colleagues inside and outside of the Vision Source network how much more efficient the Marco technology has made her practice, and she emphasizes how even small time-savings with each patient add up. “I feel like if you don’t invest back in the practice, it’s not going to be successful.”

Ergonomic Benefits
For herself and her future well-being, Dr. Shonda Achord is also thankful she added the TRS Refraction System. “I’m only 5’3”, and I would rest my wrists and hands on the top of the manual phoropter because my arms got so tired,” she says. “I developed pleurisy, and it would hurt to breathe. My doctor asked if I did exercises that kept my arms and shoulders up—but it was my work.” She also notes that the new autorefraction system allows her to sit more throughout the day rather than standing all day like she was before. Another perk? “In the days of pandemic and flu, I’m five to six feet away from people,” using the tabletop controller.

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Replicate A Model That Works – An Article From Women in Optometry

Original Article Published in Women in Optometry

Dora Sudarsky, OD, had been considering the right time to equip a second exam room at her practice, Chroma Optics, in Burlington, Vermont. Her son will be graduating from optometry school in May 2021 and will join her in the office, so she knew the change was on the horizon. “I knew I needed to add another lane, and with COVID, I decided now was the time to do it,” Dr. Sudarsky says. She added a second TRS system from Marco as well as the ION slit lamp earlier this year, and working between two systems is allowing her to be more efficient seeing patients. She can alternate from room to room, which leaves more time for cleaning between each visitor. “It’s been awesome.”

TECHNOLOGY IS A TOP PRIORITY

Dr. Sudarsky opened the practice in 2015, renovating and redesigning the space that was a former video store. She did most of the interior design and decorating herself to allot more of her funds to her instrumentation. Marco was on her wishlist from the start, and she opened her doors with one TRS system and the OPD III in her pretesting area. “The OPD III was above and beyond what anybody else had, and that was a big appeal,” she recalls.

Many patients followed Dr. Sudarsky from the optical where she had previously offered her optometry services, and in that space, she did not have any advanced technology. So the impression on patients has been huge and continues to be when new patients come to her office. “They tell me they’ve never seen so much technology, and while it may not all be brand-new, not every eye care practitioners embraces it the way that I have.” She recalls as she was preparing to open the practice that a colleague told her to wait and add automated refraction technology in five years. “I wanted to have it now so patients would tell their friends; that word of mouth makes a huge difference,” she says. “Some people say that they can’t afford to do it, but I say you can’t afford not to.”

BENEFITS FOR PATIENTS AND PRACTICE

Dr. Sudarsky says the staff adapted well to learning how to use the technology from Marco, and the data transfers automatically to her exam rooms so she can discuss the results with patients. “One of the things I love about the TRS system is that it’s a lot easier on my body—doctors don’t always think about that,” she says of the repetitive movement of traditional refracting. After experience her new, upgraded TRS in the second exam lane, Dr. Sudarsky is a fan of the improvements Marco has made, such as a bigger touch screen and even more intuitive software. It’s easier for her, but the experience is also simplified for patients. “Being able to press a button and show their old prescription vs. new prescription has a big impact, and I do think it has helped with upgrading and updating eyeglasses,” she adds.

The new ION Slit lamp in her exam room has become a great patient education tool in just a few months. “I can take pictures, put them on my computer screen and share with the patients.” Dr. Sudarsky was recently recommending a switch to wear daily disposable contact lenses to a patient. “I was trying to convince her, and with the picture, I could show her that her current contact lenses were dirty, even when she said they were clean. A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The OPD III has been a great asset for fitting contact lenses, and in particular, multifocal contact lenses. “It has a lot of great tools,” Dr. Sudarsky says. “I can tell if the patient’s visual axis is not the same as the center of the pupil, and I will know if multifocal contact lenses will work for them or not.” That can save her and the patient some frustration, especially compared to a system where she may have tried multiple lenses before reaching this conclusion.

Dr. Sudarsky says her efficiency has improved working with this technology, and she’s able to spend more time with each patient. “I have fewer remakes and better refractions,” she says. “I wonder how I practiced before it.”

Dr. Sudarsky didn’t know any colleagues who had technology from Marco when she took the leap, so she’s relied on the support of its team who have helped her with any question or issue that arises. She’s particularly thankful to her Marco support representative, who is a master at the OPD III and who helped Dr. Sudarsky understand how to utilize the many features and functions that the instrumentation has to offer. “They are just a text away and always willing to help,” she says.

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High-Tech Exam At A Personable But Appropriate Distance – An Article From Women in Optometry

Original Article Published in Women in Optometry

When Patricia Haller, OD, added Marco technology to her Chillicothe, Ohio, practice in 2015, physical distancing was not even a thought. But when she closed her office to routine care for four weeks during the stay-home orders in the state, she realized how this same technology allowed her to see emergency and urgent cases and still maintain some distance. Dr. Haller’s practice reopened at a lighter schedule to routine eye care in early May. She discovered that Marco was a “hidden gem” in the post-COVID era.

REFRACTIONS AT A DISTANCE

With the tabletop controller for her Marco 5100, she is able to conduct her refractions and sit about six feet away from the patients. “It’s also very easy to sterilize because all mechanisms are housed inside, so we wipe down the exterior casing without worrying,” she says.

She already knew its value. “I purchased my first TRS in 2015 when I built the new office. I left a manual phoropter in one of my exam lanes,” she says. However, she quickly realized she didn’t want to use that room for patient exams. So now she has three units—one in each exam lane.

“It helps to keep the process streamlined. I can control the speed at which the refraction takes place,” she says—an even more important factor in the post-COVID opening. “We want patients moving through the office efficiently so that we do not have any backup in the reception area. With the TRS, it’s quick to arrive at a final refraction, and patients can see and justify their decision to buy new eyewear.”

READY TO BUY

That’s helpful because every practice is faced now with trying to make up time and lost revenue from being closed to routine care. Happily for her, she says that patients are returning, ready and eager to buy. “I was prepared for the fact that patients might not be ready to make purchases. The staff and I discussed ways in which we could help patients with their essential needs if their finances were tight,” she says. She’s not finding that to be a hindrance, however.

“They’re excited to be back and have been updating their prescription eyewear without any of the hesitation I thought that we’d see.” Dr. Haller says that it is helpful that patients can see the steps that she and the staff members are taking to keep the practice and optical clean and sanitized. “We have a UVC wand that we are using to sterilize every frame that a patient tries on before those frames are placed back on the boards. We used to wipe down our frames on a regular basis, but now they’re sterilized.”

The practice staff works on maintaining physical distancing, and opticians are masked. Patients who don’t wear a mask are offered one—and patients who would like to wait before coming in are rescheduled.

UNEXPECTED SURPRISE WITH iON

Dr. Haller added the iON imaging system to her slit lamps, allowing her to take an anterior segment image and immediately pull it up on the computer screen. She can pivot the screen toward the patient or toward an attending family member so that she can explain what she’s seeing.“I purchased the iON because I thought it would be terrific to do anterior segment documentation in the exam room where I could enhance details. The unexpected surprise is the physical distancing that I gain with this—while still providing patients with a comprehensive exam,” she says.

Dr. Haller uses Marco’s autolensmeter and autorefractor, appreciating how quickly information can be downloaded into the electronic health record. “Even before the patient is escorted to the optical, the opticians already know the lens designs and recommendations,” she says.

She knew the equipment she has been purchasing would bring her speed, accuracy and efficiency. “But the help it provides in this time is something no one could have foreseen,” she says. The combination of a high-tech, highly efficient exam process and the sanitization and safety protocols that are on display are raising the likelihood that patients are talking about the practice to their friends. “Patients are saying, ‘I had my exam there, and it’s safe to go in.’”

That feedback makes Dr. Haller happy. She says that she missed her patients. “Nothing replaces that feeling of seeing the smile on a patient’s face, knowing that you helped. It’s been challenging, as I’m a hand-shaker and hugger, but we’re managing. It’s great to see my patients back.”

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