Article Date: 2/1/2004

contact lens economics
Don't Be Shy -- Show Your Patients That You Care
BY GARY GERBER, OD

Fitting contact lenses may seem a bit monotonous to you, but to the new contact lens wearers whom you fit, that's hardly the case. You know what I'm talking about. Just minutes after you fit them with their first pair of contact lenses, patients instinctively start exploring with their new-and-improved vision. They look out of windows, read signs in your office and notice such details as the veins on the leaves of trees.

Indeed, getting fit with contact lenses is a memorable event -- for the patient. Astute practitioners know this and will do their best to maximize this excitement to help build their practices. But along with excitement come fears and concerns, and you must strive to minimize these.

Facing Patient Fears

As patients think about the things that can go wrong the next day at their contact lens appointment, they also start to wonder whether they can really afford contact lenses, whether they'll experience any pain, whether they'll be able to drive home and what they'll do if the lenses don't work. Just as with patients awaiting refractive surgery, those awaiting a contact lens fitting often experience some fear or trepidation.

With this in mind, I recommend calling patients the night before their appointment.

"Hi Mr. Newearer. This is Nancy from Dr. Lenz's office. I'll be working with you tomorrow to show you how to wear your new contact lenses. You're going to love the way you see with them and you'll wonder why you waited so long to get them. See you tomorrow!"

This all-positive approach lets patients know that you're ready for them and helps set the tone for what should already be a positive experience.

Show Them You Care

Doing something as simple as providing the patient with an eyeglass case after he gets his lenses speaks volumes to your level of commitment and preparedness. Also important is making sure that the area where you train patients how to care for their lenses is immaculate and well stocked with non-expired solutions. Have any documents that require a patient's review (such as informed consent) waiting for him with all necessary data filled in.

The Day After Protocol

Some offices make a point to call a patient the day after he has his lenses fit -- but most don't. I recommend at least two phone calls on this first critical day of solo lens wear:

The first call That first morning, make sure the patient successfully put his lenses on and let him know that you're available to answer any questions that might come up. Be prepared to talk him through handling or care issues.

The second call Around mid-day, call the patient again and focus on the benefits of the lenses. "So Mr. Newearer, what did your colleagues think of your new look?" or, "What was it like driving to work for the first time without glasses?" At this important phase, again ask the patient if he has any questions about wearing or caring for his lenses.

This might sound like a lot of work for every single patient, but consider this: The growth in the number of new wearers has been flat for years. Nurture every new patient for the rare find that he is. Go the extra mile and show him compassion by sharing in his excitement.

Offering Guidance

Contact lenses change patients' lives. Stay with each patient every step of the way and they'll remember you when they think of the many benefits that their lenses bring them -- thanks to your skill and patience.

Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice ­ a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.

 


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: February 2004