AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - 38

RUNNING THE PRACTICE // TECHNICIANS

Patient satisfaction. Quality-trained technicians can
step in as physician extenders for our doctors, answering questions, relieving patient fears, and providing
care and services beyond what's expected of their role.
I often hear from patients and their families about
our "wonderful staff," how staff knowledge and caring
made a difference, and how much they enjoy coming
to see us, many times stating, "This is the best eye exam
I've ever had."
Monetary benefits. Our patients, happy with their
care, tell friends and family and refer them to our practice. Several also told their primary care physicians, in
turn providing a tremendous referral source.
CASE STUDY: CINCINNATI EYE INSTITUTE
We were not the only practice to notice a difference
when an emphasis was put on technician training
and certification. Amy Jost, COMT, CCRC, Clinical Research Coordinator and Education Liaison at
Cincinnati Eye Institute (CEI), stated that "Certification ensures a standard level of knowledge. When
high standards are met, the tech, the doctor, and most
importantly the patient, benefit."
CEI, a large practice consisting of approximately
62 doctors, 225 technicians, and a total staff of
over 500, came to certification when they started
noticing patient flow problems in clinics. "Bottlenecks would occur. New inexperienced techs
would get the patient exam started, but had to rely
on more experienced techs with advanced skills
to complete the exams," Jost said. CEI also had
a problem with technicians being unable to cross
over into other departments due to the lack of skills
required for those specific clinics. This decreased
clinical efficiency and reduced understanding and
the quality of patient care.
CEI implemented a 5-month technician training program where technicians spend several weeks
learning the basics in oculoplastics, neuro-ophthalmics,
retina, glaucoma, and anterior segment. Upon completing the program they are fully cross-trained and
able to work in all clinics.
The result of implementing a training program at CEI
was significant. Within 3 years they increased the number
of certified technician staff, certifying 83% more COAs,
33% more COTs, and 33% more COMTs.
"Having certified technicians adds great value to
every practice," Jost said, including greater "self- confidence, increased responsibility, and job satisfaction."

38

AE // July/Aug 18

One of the best policies
the physician owner and
I put into practice was to
require certification for all
technical staff.
BUT WHAT IF WE TRAIN THEM AND THEY LEAVE?
Physicians and administrators often fear and voice
frustration about technicians who leave the practice looking for greener pastures after achieving
certification. This is a possibility, but I have found
that when we invest in our technicians, they invest
in our practice. Our staff turnover rate is almost
non-existent. Not only was this something patients
liked about coming to our practice because there was
continuity in staff providing their care, but it was
a significant savings to us on the cost involved in
hiring and training new staff. And according to the
2013 Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology (ATPO) Salary Survey, certified technicians
stay at their same employer or in their same position
an average of 10 years.
The John A. Moran Eye Center is a case in point.
"Our turnover was high, with some techs quitting
during training, and others quitting shortly after
being trained," said Jaqueline Pullos, COT, OSC, Staff
Education Coordinator at the Salt Lake City practice.
"Training had been a combination of see one, do one,
teach one, and sink or swim. Because new techs were
not being shown how to perform tasks the same way,
it was frustrating and confusing for them, and many
sank. There was little or no skill growth once a tech was
done with 'training.'" Pullos explained.
The Moran Eye Center was bringing on new faculty
and needed to increase the number of technicians to
support this increase in physician staff. Seeing the
need for better-trained, skilled allied staff, the practice
implemented a successful training program in 2012.
"I am so proud of the changes that have occurred
in just a few short years-solid core skills, increased
engagement, significantly improved documentation,"
said Pullos. "And we are hiring because of growth, not
because people are quitting. We have nearly a completely fluid staff, meaning almost every tech at our main



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4

AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover1
AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover2
AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - 1
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AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover3
AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover4
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