We are living in uncertain times. Most of us have had to close our offices to do our part in subduing this COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to reopen for normal business hours again soon, but are not sure exactly when “soon” will come. However, while we wait, we can use the time to work on our businesses.  

Many of us are always working in our businesses and seldom have time to work on our businesses. If you approach this situation from that perspective, this time could be a golden opportunity to plan!  One of the areas you can work on is the operations of your business by updating or creating a Standard Operating Procedures Manual. 

Your SOP should cover the 5 important areas of your business listed below. But first, a brief description of operations.

 

Operations

The term operations describes the processes and resources that you use to produce the highest quality products and services as efficiently as possible. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual is the guiding document for the systems of your practice.  Your SOP will cover the following five key areas in detail: Physical location description, Products and Services Offered, the Care Process, Procedural outline for all job tasks in the Care Process, Equipment Inventory.

 

Physical Location Description:

  • A business exists, just like you and I, in a world that is filled with countless things that form its physical environment. The physical environment refers to the tangible, or material, objects and conditions that surround your practice. 
  • In this section of your SOP manual, you will describe the geographical location, the landscaping and a thorough description of each square footage of your space.  The purpose of this section is to confirm that the business environment of your practice fits your MVP.

 

Products and Services Offered:

  • In this section list all the products and services your practice offers.  These products and services will represent the solutions to the problems you want your practice to solve for your target market. For example, you may offer Orthokeratology for a pediatric population as a means to control myopia or Telehealth for convenience.
  • The products and services you offer must be consistent with your Mission, Vision, Purpose (MVP).  Listing them as part of the SOP manual, will help your team communicate the correct information to your patients.

 

The Care Process:

  • This section outlines the engineered service process.  The patient care process is comprised of all important patient interaction points. My care process for a comprehensive eye exam has 83 interaction points. All the interaction points are organized into the following 3 categories: Before, During and After the visit.
  • Flow charts work really well to create supportive visuals for this section of your SOP manual.  This section will make it easier for your team to carry out your wishes in a consistent and efficient manner.

 

Procedural Outline for all Job Tasks in the Care Process:

  • Procedural Outlines for all job tasks are step-by-step instructions that act as guidelines for employee work processes. Whether written up in numbered steps or formatted as flow charts, procedural outlines should be clearly written and based on input from the people who do the job. When employees follow the outline for a particular job, they produce a product that is consistent and reproducible.

 

Equipment Inventory:

  • Equipment inventory is vital to your practice for various reasons.  These reasons include financial management, tracking of items, and planning for future events or purchases.  It is an often-overlooked practice in healthcare facilities, but should be conducted regularly, at least every three years.
  • Doing an inventory for financial purposes is critical for practices.  First of all, you do not know exactly what you have for assets until you have made a comprehensive list.  Then, after a list is made, you can reconcile the inventory to an asset ledger or asset records to make sure all of the financials match the inventory.  When this is accomplished, you have an accurate record of what is onsite and how it relates to your financial records.

 

In a podcast with Women in Optometry Magazine, I discussed the importance of having an SOP as part of the CEO of YOU™ Business Consulting.  I shared a story of what happened to me in my practice before I developed my SOP. Click on the image below to listen to the 15 minutes podcast. 


SOPs, are step by step instructions compiled to help your practice run smoothly and reduce the training time for new employees. These procedural guidelines are meant to increase efficiency, reduce miscommunications and manage unrealistic expectations. A Standard Operating Procedure manual translates into consistency, uniformity and practice success.

Click HERE for a sample SOP table of contents. 

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What are you doing to prepare your practice for success for post-COVID-19?