PREMIUM PRACTICE TODAY: Value-Added Services: Strengthen Your Rapport With Patients and Increase Your Revenue


Diversifying your practice only works if the strategy benefits your patients.

Diversifying your practice by incorporating value-added services can grow cataract and refractive surgery practices. The term value-added services refers to treatment options that complement the core service offerings of a company or medical practice but that are not vital to the core model of the enterprise. ..


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Optos: A Breakthrough in Diagnostic Imaging for the Ophthalmic Practice

Optos: A Breakthrough in Diagnostic Imaging for the Ophthalmic Practice

Optos (Marlborough, MA) has built an ophthalmic technology around wide field diagnostic imaging of the fundus. With over 3,800 units installed worldwide, the Company’s devices have been used to capture over 15 million patient images to date. With the recent introduction of advanced risk based imaging, the Company has begun commercializing its technology to ophthalmology to complement its strong presence in optometry…

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Ideas in Action: Back to Basics

April 2, 2008

I have to admit I’ve been a longtime fan of Starbucks. Not so much of their coffee, but of their founder, Howard Schultz. As a man who is driven by something far greater than financial success, he returned to his role as CEO at the beginning of this year amidst concern that the world’s largest purveyor of gourmet coffee had lost some of its focus. You may recall hearing the news that Starbucks locations in the US, all 11,100 of them, closed one afternoon in February for a 3-hour training session involving 150,000 workers. Some might view this as a big hit to revenue, but I’m betting that Schultz didn’t. He sensed the need to take action and counter the first-ever drop in customer transactions they saw in the most recent fiscal quarter.

Schultz made some major commitments, declaring in a recent USA Today interview that “there will be a fundamental change in the taste and experience of going to Starbucks.” These changes include a return to grinding coffee in each store and a much-improved loyalty rewards program with social networking. He’s promising innovation that will bring back his core customers that have left for other coffee grounds, no pun intended.

What I admire foremost about this leader is the fact that he’s taking responsibility for the problems at hand rather than conveniently blaming the economy or some other factor. With all the current bad news around housing, energy prices, stock market volatility, and so on, it’s easy for anyone running a business to get down in their outlook. But instead of pointing the finger, Schultz is taking the bull by the horns, forcing his company to look in the mirror to solve problems that are “self-induced.” I find this incredibly refreshing.

Consider your business: If your revenues are down, are you pointing the finger or are you looking in the mirror? In this turbulent economy, there’s probably never been a better time to get back to basics. Revisit the critical question, “what business am I in?” Schultz believes that he’s in the “people business” rather than the coffee business.

Consider your core customers: Why do they choose to come to you? Have you explored, like Schultz, what it will take to enhance their experience?
Finally, consider your level of innovation: The tendency is to view this in terms of new products or services, which comprise the “what” and “how” of your business. Perhaps it’s time to think about innovating the “when”, “where”, and “why” of your business. I suspect that a good bit of the employee training going on at Starbucks is focused on reviving the dramatic structure (“coffee theater”) that helped create the Starbucks experience in the first place.

Chicago and ASCRS

A heads-up for Chicago: For those of you going to ASCRS in Chicago and in need of some “back to basics” inspiration, here are three events you may want to check out:

AMAZEMENT – Legendary inspirational speaker (and world-class magician) Giovanni Livera will be keynoting the AMO University session on Friday morning (4/4) at the Hilton at 8 am. He will talk about how to astonish your customers in a lecture called Anything is Possible.

PASSION – The ASOA breakfast on Saturday morning will feature Gary Zelesky, who will talk about bringing passion to your practice and your patients. Co-sponsored by AMO and Care Credit, this event takes place at 7 am at McCormick Convention Center in room W-375C.

HUMOR – The Pretty Late Show with host Mike Carbone comes to the Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday evening at 5:30 pm. In this live studio event, presented by EyeWorld magazine, talk show host Mike Carbone will interview leading surgeons on what they’re currently doing to create a premium patient experience in their practices. Should be a hoot!


Shareef Mahdavi
President, SM2 Consulting

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Elevating Service to Experience

Elevating Service to ExperienceWhat surgeons can learn from a bunch of Geeks.

The personal computer has become integral to the daily lives of millions of people. Not surprisingly, it has spawned many products and companies that support it, from furniture to software and, of course, repair. Back in1994, a young computer engineer founded a computer repair company with $200 and called it the “Geek Squad. ”1 Twelve years later, he sold the company to electronics retailer Best Buy Co. , Inc. (Richfield, MN)…

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Ideas in Action: iPod Ergo Sum

August 2007

iPod Ergo Sum

It’s Okay to Take a Bite

Creating Leverage


iPod Ergo Sum

Those of you who took Latin class in your school days will recognize the play on one of its most famous phrases, Cogito Ergo Sum. Written in 1637 by philosopher Descartes, I think, therefore I am became foundational to western thought and philosophy.

370 years later, a company called Apple is changing the way we think about goods and services for working (iMac and iBook), communicating (iPhone), lounging (Apple TV) and listening (iTunes). The largest driver of all these products is also the smallest in size: the iPod.


It’s Okay to Take a Bite

I featured Apple in my February 2007 column in CRSToday as one of my picks for companies that stage great customer experiences. Unlike the apples consumed by Eve and Snow White, this Apple has a lot to offer that can nourish how we think about our own businesses. I’ll highlight some of the best concepts here:

First, you’ll notice that the company is now called Apple. After thirty years as Apple Computer, Inc., they have redefined their business as much more than a computer company. They sell lifestyle as much as they sell any product or service.

Second, their stores draw you in with a “high tech, high touch” atmosphere that encourages you to come in and play with all the great looking gadgets. They’ve taken a big step in making technology less intimidating, as evidenced by the diversity of people you see shopping in their store: young and old, geek and non-geek, expert and novice.

Third, the staff is easily identifiable in their same color tee-shirts and strive to apple store business card educate rather than hard sell. The business card at right is what one fellow handed me to encourage me to learn more about switching over from PC to Mac platforms. On the back was an invitation to set up a dedicated appointment to learn more about the Mac, “no strings attached.”

Fourth, they have themed the entire store to reflect the cool rebel factor long associated with their company culture and core customers. Take, for example, the “Genius Bar”, where customers can queue up to get help with their products. How cool is that? I’d much rather visit a Genius Bar than get on the phone to talk to someone faraway in the land of technical support.

Think about your practice or business and take another read of the bolded phrases above. Just six years ago, Apple was computer company that had no retail stores. With creative intention and planning, how could you redefine your practice to make it significantly more attractive and appealing to potential customers?


Creating Leverage

Physicists define leverage as a factor that can multiply force. Apple has done a great job of creating business leverage, where sales of one product encourage sales of another. The iTunes music store led to market dominance for the iPod, in part because that online store was much easier to use and download than competing ones. The iPod created a whole new phrase in the Experience Economy: “podcasting.” With video capability, TV shows and movies can be watched where and when you want and programming off the PC can now be broadcast over the TV (Apple TV). See a pattern here?

Most important for Apple, the iPod revolution is causing a lot of folks, myself included, to take a closer look at the Mac platform for my basic computing needs. Financial statements indicate a clear increase in sales of the more-expensive and more profitable Macs (relative to PCs) as a direct result of the popularity of the iPod and iTunes.

Think Different

In your business, you should think about what services you can offer that are complementary to your existing or core services. Some will fit within your current framework, while others would require expanding that frame (reinvention) in order for you to be successful.

Apple serves as a reminder that we need to “think different” (the motto from an earlier ad campaign for the Mac) if we want different results. They did, and look what happened!

How fast a year goes by! Thanks to all of you for reading Ideas in Action, an e-letter devoted to helping you offer a better customer experience. Subscribers include doctors and other entrepreneurs who have a strong service component to their business. Please forward this to friends and colleagues who you think would benefit – they can easily sign up and get it directly.

And for those of you who missed earlier issues, we’ve provided a quick link below.



Shareef Mahdavi
President, SM2 Consulting

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