An initial visit to the optometrist's office normally requires the new patient to fill out paperwork regarding medical history, contact information, current and past eye problems, insurance coverage and billing preferences. This information is stored electronically or in hard copy files to help the optometrist diagnose and treat patients and properly bill insurance companies for services rendered. The person in charge of keeping these files and the general office operations in order is called an optometry office manager.
Skills in office and document management are needed to be a competent optometry office manager, as patient files need to be accurate and current for the optometrist to provide good patient service in a timely manner. The manager has to have supervisory abilities to direct the work of the receptionist and administrative staff. She is expected to regularly review the efficiency of filing and recordkeeping systems and recommend improvements. If discrepancies arise that are related to office management issues, she is required to resolve them with tact and diplomacy.
Whether the optometry practice is new or just changing management, the office manager is in charge of choosing the best file system for the operation as well as making decisions regarding hiring new employees, what software best meets the needs of the doctor's services and patient volume, and the development of office policies and procedures. She generally confers with the doctor to set office hours and determine guidelines for patient payment and billing plans. Her approval is usually needed to purchase office supplies and equipment. Contact with patients is normally part of the job.
Optometry office managers commonly work in professional office environments that are comfortably furnished and free of extraneous noise or disturbances. Office hours are generally 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and overtime or weekend work is rarely required. Professional business attire is generally preferred for the job, although some office dress codes may include surgical scrubs.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required to be an optometry office manager. Some employers require at least two years experience in an optometry or optical dispensing management position. Knowledge of optical testing procedures is preferred. Background in dispensing eyeglasses or contacts is considered a plus for job applicants.
Salary and Advancement Opportunities
If the optometrist is part of a larger group of eye care specialists, opportunities to manage larger or busier offices for a higher salary may be available. Smaller independent practices normally offer no chances for career advancement. The median annual salary for an optometry office manager was $40,414 in 2014.