lens practice pearls
Retaining Contact Lens Patients
BY THOMAS G. QUINN, OD, MS, FAAO
A chief concern of many practitioners is how to keep patients from straying to other providers for care or contact lenses. Here are some ideas on how to keep lens wearers in "the fold."
Retaining patients begins by fitting the best and latest lens designs available. Happy patients are less likely to seek care elsewhere or drop out of contact lens wear altogether.
Be willing to fit specialty contact lenses such as torics and multifocals. Not every practitioner provides these specialized services. Offering these services limits your potential competition and also sets you apart as a contact lens expert deserving of return business.
Advantages of GP lenses
Most of us recognize the optical and physiological benefits GP lenses offer patients. What you may not appreciate is the loyalty most GP lens wearers display toward their provider.
I've found that GP lens wearers are much less likely to attempt to purchase replacement contact lenses from alternative sources compared to soft lens wearers. GP lens wearers also are more likely to return to your practice for future care.
I believe this loyalty is born from the patient's perception that GP lenses are more specialized devices than soft lenses. Fitting GPs can be great for patients and for you in your quest to be their long-term provider.
Perform and Inform
At every examination, perform testing to assess the patient's response to contact lens wear. Take the time to assess the lens fit on the eye, evert the upper lid and instill fluorescein. Skipping these procedures by taking a "Dr. Do Little" approach may keep your schedule running more smoothly, but it under serves patients and diminishes the value of your examination.
Briefly explain each procedure as you execute it so patients understand that you're performing tests specific for contact lens assessment.
Share your findings with the patient. By doing this you'll form a solid foundation to support your upcoming recommendations.
Make a Recommendation
Finish the examination by making a recommendation, even if it's just to congratulate your patient on his success and to recommend that he continues in the current lenses with the current lens care system.
If a patient does have a problem with his lenses, he'll be better able to understand your recommendation in light of all the information you've shared with him during the examination process.
During the recommendation phase, I often mention new developments in contact lenses that may apply to the patient's case. Some asymptomatic patients will elect to "upgrade" based on this discussion. If nothing else, I have communicated that I'm staying current with the continual developments taking place in contact lenses.
Reinforce the Recall
Finally, don't forget to recommend that the contact lens patient return for follow-up with you at the appropriate interval of time. Offer to schedule the patient while he's still in the office.
If you're releasing the patient for an extended period of time, inform him that your staff will contact him a few weeks before the next scheduled visit to confirm the appointment. Patients appreciate it when they don't have to worry about remembering to schedule an appointment later, and you're more likely to keep them in "the fold."
Dr. Quinn is in group practice in Athens, Ohio, and has served as a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.