We are all looking to get an edge.

These times are challenging, and we are all looking to get an edge. We buy or lease special equipment, comfortable furniture, and consulting services. We train and retrain ourselves and our staffs. Then, our new technologies seem to appear and recede faster than Moore’s Law would indicate. (See Footnote)

Technologic expansion is subject to the law of diminishing returns, especially as insurance reimbursements are challenged. (I am fond of saying that “all technology reimbursements go to $12.”) Our knowledge base and techniques are expanding so rapidly that it causes us to pause and say, ok, what really matters? 

These issues led me to the concept of the 1% Rule.

If a clinical technique can add 1% to the growth of my practice with little or no investment in technology or personnel, then it is worth considering and pursuing. My best example of this is represented by a personal interest in systemic and ocular inflammatory disease. (We’ll get into some ocular inflammatory disease ideas in another article.) 

Developing this interest involved attending top CE lectures, scouring the literature, and eventually lecturing and writing on the topic myself. Patients, in turn, have appreciated this interest, as they know that it is a distinguishing feature of my practice. Dollar outlay remains minimal in this mission.

How does this apply to you and your practice?

You might have to dig inside a bit, or it might come and hit you by accident. Or, as Forrest Gump famously said, “Maybe it’s both.”  What journal article would you pick, if you had a choice of 20? Have you had cases in a particular area that inspired reading and further study? If you develop your expertise in that area of practice and convey it well, you’ll develop a magnet for patients and families that are a strong, binding feature for your practice.

How about lifestyle items, as they apply to your practice? Are you an enthusiastic marksman? I’ll bet that you shooters would have insight that would help professionals and hobbyists alike. Know the optics, work distances, lighting, and special products that make the patient feel that you’ve gone to the limit on their behalf.  From there, talk to your police officers, military members, and club shooters about their pursuits. Even if you don’t solve the problem completely, you’ve probably shown interest in a way that’s not been done before. “Thanks, Doc! Let’s try that flat-light filter on the glasses. I’m going to get my wife to come in……..” You get the drift.

Discussion of contact lens care and solutions is another perfect example of the 1% approach. We know that proper use of solution is tremendously important, and we take the time to explain this to each patient that we see. It goes to the broader issue of the contact lens compliance that we are obligated to foster. Patients are appreciative of the professional’s extra time and attention, and will often remark on our positive approach at a subsequent visit. The practice-building effect is quite apparent, as YOU may be the first doc who took the time and didn’t simply throw multiple, unexplained solution samples at the patient. “Use whatcha like best, they’re all the same” shows no professional caring or interest on our part.

Think of a visit to the family dental office. Aren’t you on the edge of your seat when the dentist describes a new product that may enhance your health, safety, or convenience?  Isn’t this exactly what I am doing when I spend the extra minute to explain the systemic aspects of uveitis, or the shooter’s work distance, or the benefits of hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution?

Some caveats are in order. If you are looking for metrics, don’t! While I am sure that my interest in uveitis has contributed 1% to the gross of my practice, I could not begin to prove it.  I CAN show that I see 1-2 uveitis patients or family members every week. 

If you are looking for quick results, don’t.

The “1% Rule” is a lifelong pursuit that will have stunning effects at times, and lull you to sleep at others. Can you do more than one 1% item? You can, and should, but how many areas can you be expected to show expertise, in this world of specialization?

So……does it all sound a little corny? Of course, it does. Take that daring leap from out behind the digital equipment and optical sales, and find the things that can make your practice unique without betting the farm! Then it’s “Run, Forrest, Run!”

Footnote  http://computer.howstuffworks.com/moores-law.htm