contact lens practice pearls
Creating Positive Experiences in the Optometric Office
BY THOMAS G. QUINN, OD, MS, FAAO
I'm sure you've all met at least one patient who doesn't get out much and who considers going to get his eyes examined a treat. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of your patients entered your doorway with such a positive disposition? Below are some ideas on how you and your staff can help make a visit to your office a memorable experience for all of your patients.
Set the Stage
When a patient calls your office to make an appointment, have your staff answer the phone with an attitude of, "We're so glad you called and we're honored you've chosen us. How can we help?" (This means avoiding communication styles that suggest the call is an intrusion.) Politely clarify the patient's needs so all parties are prepared at the visit. Consider having registration and health history forms available online to avoid burying patients in paperwork as soon as they walk through your door.
First Impressions Set the Tone
Smile! Greet new arrivals warmly as soon as they enter the office, even if they have to wait a minute or two before you can get to them. Recognizing their presence helps make the wait more palatable. Also, offer a pleasant office environment that's professional, current and clean.
Patient Communication Tips
When preparing to conduct a test on a patient, take a minute to explain what you're doing to him and how he'll benefit from undergoing this test. An informed patient is always a more cooperative patient. Plus, you can educate the patient about different tests and procedures while you're setting up the equipment, adding little extra time to the examination.
Do you remember the last time you went to get your driver's license renewed? If your experience was anything like mine, then your head was spinning from the rapid, monotone instructions fired at you. With this in mind, periodically resensitize yourself and your staff to slow down when instructing patients on how to perform a task. The patient will have a better experience and you'll get better results. Everybody wins!
In-Office Communication Tips
Work Together You and your staff should work as a team. Don't make patients repeat things to each staff member. For example, if a patient describes difficulty in determining whether a contact lens is inside-out, make sure you communicate this to your contact lens technician so he can review techniques with the patient.
Address all Concerns Address all patient concerns. Have a place to record them as the patient expresses them throughout the examination. At the end of the exam, go back and make sure you didn't miss anything.
Minimize Wait Time Picture the department store checkout clerk who keeps a line of folks waiting as he chats with a co-worker about his weekend escapades. Now put yourself at the end of that line. Are you fuming yet? Respect every patient's time.
Invariably, patients will have to wait for you or your staff during their visit. If the wait is unusually long, then keep the patient "in the loop." Better yet, make productive use of the time by performing additional ancillary tests or by having the patient look at eye wear.
Stay Current Have up-to-date equipment and offer the latest advancements in contact lens technology. Don't wait for patients to ask what's new. Volunteer it. They appreciate knowing that their doctor is keeping up on the latest developments.
Attitude It all comes down to being informed and treating patients with the care and respect that they deserve. It's the formula that will have everyone in the office smiling!
Dr. Quinn is in group practice in Athens, Ohio, and has served as a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: January 2005