AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - 30

JULY/AUG 18 // COVER FEATURE

practice located significantly north of its northernmost
site. If the merger leads to staff turnover, he said, we
may "have to start recruiting in a market with which
we have little experience."
Keeping staff training consistent across multiple locations is another challenge, and a particularly stressful
one since it can affect care quality. Traci Fritz, COE,
OCS, COA, executive director of Children's Eye Care
of Michigan (Detroit region), said it was especially
difficult to oversee the clinical staff in a practice spread
out over four locations in three counties. Despite having a clinical manager and five orthoptists to lead the
clinics, Fritz said, "some of my expectations for training
technicians can get lost because of the practice size."
She noted that certain procedures are "less about skill
and more about operational expectations." The remedy:
This year, Children's Eye held a full day of in-house
training with its clinical department and opticians.
Similarly, Evergreen Eye Center is using a variety of
methods to maintain and strengthen practice culture
across locations. As Zach Smith said, "We have two
'all hands' employee meetings/dinners twice a year.
Attendance is required, and we make an effort to have
employees meet and get to know other employees
with whom they don't work... . We conduct Skype
calls among all the clinics and our admin office. We
do a drawing annually for a trip to Hawaii among
employees who maintained excellent attendance, and
we've conducted the drawing live on a Skype call. We
also have a bonus program for employees who create
cost savings and recently gave a $3,000 bonus live on
a Skype call with all clinic locations." Evergreen is also
renovating its clinics so that they have the same look
and feel across locations.
LESSONS LEARNED
Administrators emphasized the need to keep practice
leadership and staff focused on the main mission-

"If we can't be effective at
communicating, it is hard
to achieve our goals."
-Andrew Maller, MBA, COE,
BSM Consulting

30

AE // July/Aug 18

"One-on-one interpersonal
relationships will be the key
to transmitting our culture
to the merging practice
without the employees there
feeling as if they are part of
a hostile takeover."
-Zach Smith, MHSA, COE,
formerly of Evergreen Eye Center
providing quality healthcare-throughout the
expansion process.
"Expansion is a business-driven decision, but don't
forget your staff," cautioned Bill Koch. "They serve
your primary mission." Remember, Koch added, staff
at all levels can give you information about what is
needed on the floor.
"The biggest lesson I learned was communicate,
communicate," Sykora stressed. She noted that she and
the physician owner take a few minutes each day "to
recap where we are, what the problems or successes are,
and what's on the horizon." Sykora also highlighted her
efforts to communicate often and meaningfully with
staff: "I need them to understand it's not just an open
door policy with my office, but also an on-the-floor
invested interest in their position and the direction the
practice is going."
Janna Mullaney, COE, OSC, OCS, recommended that administrators "be as transparent as possible and share the timeline and end game with the
staff" because "people who are part of the process
are more likely to accept it than those left on the
sidelines." Mullaney is Chief Operating Office at
Katzen Eye Group (Baltimore, Md.) and ASOA's
President-Elect. The Katzen Eye Group has grown
from a single doctor and location to a practice with
29 doctors across 6 locations.
Lynn Tamborini, practice administrator at Illinois
Retina & Eye Associates (Central Illinois region),
which has expanded from one to four locations,



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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