The Business of Contact Lenses
Take Advantage of Having a Captive Audience
By Clarke D. Newman, OD, FAAO
In 1986, when I joined the practice that I currently own, we changed many things. We added a big optical and stopped making our own rigid lenses. We moved the office to a bigger location. We changed a lot of things all at once, thinking that we would just take off.
Well, things didn't increase as quickly as we had hoped. So, we hired a well-known practice consultant, Dr. Richard Kattouf, to come help us out. We had many things to adjust. Some were easier than others were.
One of our problems was that the practice was that of my childhood optometrist, and his entire staff had been with him since before I was in the first grade. They had all known me since I was a small child, and that made it difficult for them to see me as their boss. That change was hard.
The Power of the Doctor
One of the easiest things to change, however, was one of the most important things that I learned. Dr. Kattouf talked about “The Power of the Doctor.” What he said made perfect sense, and it should be intuitive to us all.
This mind vitamin states that, when communicating with a patient, nothing is as powerful as the authority of being the practitioner that the patient has entrusted with his care in making recommendations to him.
If we are being honest with ourselves, when we delegate responsibilities to our staff—as we should—we also dilute the power that we would have if we walked a patient through every step of our practice.
Think for a moment, how much more impactful and meaningful a patient's experience in our office would be if he were the only person we saw that day, and from the moment he arrived until the moment he left, the only person who communicated with him was a practitioner who was in no hurry to do anything else?
Think about the last time you went to the office when it was closed to see an emergency patient. The phone was not ringing, and there was no e-mail to distract you. The staff did not interrupt you with questions. You were not short-handed. You were not 30 minutes behind. It was just you and the patient. When was the last time that an encounter like that resulted in patient non-compliance or miscommunication? It doesn't happen, does it?
Those encounters are intensely focused on that one patient, and the patient gets all of his information from the practitioner, because chances are, the practitioner doesn't call a staff member in to assist.
The last time that I came down to the office for one of those emergent situations, I had an epiphany about how much better that patient experience was compared to one in which we have an office full of other patients, and I just kept thinking about Dr. Kattouf and The Power of the Doctor.
However, we see the vast majority of our patients when the office is open and full of patients and staff. Patients mostly encounter you, the practitioner, in the examination room or in the consultation room, and that is the only time you have to exercise The Power of the Doctor.
How much more effective are discussions about wearing times and care systems when you do it in the examination room? How much more effective are discussions about lens options, multifocal adaptation, risk management, or fees?
Resist the temptation to rush off to the next patient; the communication that you enjoy with your patients will serve you and them very well. Feel The Power of the Doctor. CLS
Dr. Newman has been in private practice in Dallas, Texas since 1986 specializing in vision rehabilitation through contact lenses as well as corneal disease management, optometric medicine and refractive surgery. He is also a consultant or advisor to B+L. You can reach him at email@example.com.