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Even with the best Practice management software opticians are still using a lot of paper.  This article explains how to use apps to reduce paper and increase efficiency from an optical business owners point of view 

I have opticians across the country working in prisons.  I needed to get rid of paper to ensure we didn’t lose any important records and to make sure our lab receives the work order immediately from opticians who are testing in prisons hundreds of miles away.  The system we ended up creating uses very little paper therefore it may be useful to other opticians.

The main apps to cut down paper are Jotforms and Trello.  Automate.io came later on and as the name suggests this app can automate boring repetitive tasks so you won’t need to use a human for those anymore.

Cutting down on paper

Paper usage is either:

  1. Patient specific notes e.g. appointment reminders, test records, etc
  2. Non patient specific notes e.g. reminders between colleagues, instructions, etc.

PMSs have a space for every bit of patient data you would ever need and they were designed to store that data in patient files.  But what if the information you need to communicate doesn’t link nicely to any particular patient?

So assuming patient specific notes are not the problem then its the more informal notes between practice staff.  To tackle that I suggest using a virtual notice board such as Trello.

Trello is a noticeboard that all staff members can add notes.  It has a simple user interface so anyone can pick it up quickly.

Optical PMS don’t have an intuitive user interface so they can be tricky to master plus they’re not built to share info that isn’t linked to a patient file.  So it’s better to continue using your PMS for patient notes and then implement Trello for the other types of staff communication.

Trello integrates well with Jotforms and Automate.io plus it has an internal automation tool called Butler which can really help organise your workload.

You’ll never lose a note again with Trello because it has a powerful search bar that uses Boolean operators such as AND, NOT, and OR so its easy to narrow your results or widen them.

This solution will not eradicate paper in your practice however this will be another step in the right direction.  Everyone wants to reduce paper usage so we need to work out what is stopping that happening.  I think staff need to be given an easy to use communication tool & this will move things forwards greatly.  If you want any advice on trello feel free to contact me.

Why I didn’t buy a PMS system – jotforms does the same thing, cheaper, adaptable to suit my needs and it integrates well with other automation software.

PMS is usually saved on a particular computer which doesn’t suit our business model.  Non cloud based software doesn’t integrate well with modern apps like trello and automate.io

You can build your own online patient database with Jotforms.  It passes the EU GDPR compliance tests and for added security you can password protect every file on there.

Take a look at my appointment booking form, opticians test record and dispense record forms below.  I’ve applied conditional logic to speed things up for the practitioner and dispenser.  Doing it yourself means you can edit it to match the way you and your team members work & bespoke it with your own logo and brand colours.

I would embed the appointment form into your website homepage.  It will link to your normal calendar so you won’t get double bookings.  You can customise appointment lengths by type of appointment and when the patient submits this form he can get an email with an appointment reminder straight to his calendar.

All of the forms can be linked to each other so your staff don’t have to fill in the patient details every time.

Jotforms is free if you only need 100 form submissions/month but I think most opticians need the bronze package which is $9.50 and gives you 1,000 form submissions/month.

I designed most of my jotforms within 2-3 hours.  Happy to share my knowledge with independent practice owners wanting to do something different.