Part of the growing pains involved with an expanding eye care practice includes the increased specialization required of staff members. Small practices demand employees “wear many hats” and take responsibility for a wide variety of tasks, but larger practices often require team members to focus on a select few duties. This is why many eye care facilities are taking a page from the dental industry and hiring treatment coordinators (also known as optometric coordinators).
The treatment coordinator is one of many support jobs in the optometry field. However, unlike an office manager, optometric technician, or optometric assistant, a treatment coordinator serves as a liaison with patients to present, explain, and finalize treatment plans. In many ways, the treatment coordinator job description reads almost like a sales or customer service role.
The primary objective of an optometric treatment coordinator is to guide patients through their course of treatment and ensure they complete the entire process. This requires great communication skills, as they will be expected to explain the risks and benefits of various procedures and medications in a way that the average patient can understand.
Some jobs in the eye care field—such as opticians—are sales-focused roles, and others—such as optometrists—are more focused on diagnosis and treatment. The optometric treatment coordinator exists in between the two. They “sell” patients on a particular approach or regimen, but they are also focused on what is best for the patient. No treatment coordinator job description should include selling patients on treatments they do not need.
Hiring an optometric treatment coordinator provides an additional resource for patient questions and takes a fair amount of pressure off the optometrist. In smaller practices, it’s often the OD who takes on the role of treatment coordinator, explaining procedures to patients and “closing” the deal by convincing the individual their approach is the right one.
By assuming this responsibility, an optometric treatment coordinator frees up the optometrist to see more patients, which in turn generates more opportunities for revenue. Furthermore, the best-run practices also task treatment coordinators with patient follow-up, which can help decrease no-shows and relieve some of the pressure felt by the financial department (or whoever is responsible for collections).
If you decide to add a treatment coordinator to your optometric team, you’ll need to balance your need for sales acumen, customer relations skills, and eye care expertise. It can sometimes be difficult to find someone with the total package, but remember it’s a lot easier to train an employee on specific procedures and treatment strategies than people skills. Use the interview process to uncover any red flags and identify candidates who will fit your practice culture, treat your patients right, and generate revenue for your business.
One of the most important things for any growing optometric practice is to have procedures in place for bringing in new patients, managing care plans, and liaising with individuals before, during, and after treatment. The optometric treatment coordinator can handle all those responsibilities, and it’s one of many jobs in the eye care field that successful practices have embraced.