value of a contact lens
Are Contact Lenses And Spectacles Mutually Exclusive?
may want to wear contact lenses, even if they don't tell you. Here are the strategies
this practitioner uses to fulfill patients' needs while keeping their eyes healthy.
Are you taking every opportunity to talk to
your spectacles patients about contact lenses ... and vice versa? If you're not,
you may be missing an opportunity to build a loyal following and increase your
profitability, according to Thomas M. Bobst, OD, a private practitioner in North
fact, a 2-year study by MBA students at the London Business School supports Dr.
Bobst's assertion. Their research compared profits and loyalty for eyecare professionals
who prescribe spectacles for their patients and those who focus on contact lenses.
The students found you can derive more profit and win patient loyalty by offering
contact lenses not only to current lens wearers but also to patients who are spectacle
wearers and even to those who may have stopped wearing older types of contact lenses
due to health or comfort issues.
Given the crisp vision, health
benefits and comfort of today's new contact lenses, Dr. Bobst avoids pigeonholing
his patients as either contact lens-only or spectacles-only patients. Here's how
he and his staff meet the challenge of communicating these benefits quickly and
succinctly at every patient encounter.
HEALTH ABOVE ALL
When it comes to prescribing
contact lenses and spectacles, Dr. Bobst and his staff follow their "Golden Rule":
Patients need to see good, feel good and look good.
"I place my patients' health
above all else, and as an advocate for eye health, I present all the vision correction
alternatives," Dr. Bobst says. "Most of my patients are committed to contact lenses.
And I am a firm believer that an important component of healthy, comfortable contact
lens wear is a quality pair of spectacles as a backup.
for my spectacles patients, I'm finding as I really drill down for information,
I can answer any questions and make patients comfortable with contact lenses, especially
the newer, silicone hydrogels."
Dr. Bobst and his staff use
the "Five Zones of Patient Interaction" identified by the London Business School
study to reinforce the value of
ZONE 1: SCHEDULING
As you know, every patient
encounter starts before a patient even sets foot in your practice. Dr. Bobst has
made a simple adjustment to this initial communication.
"Originally, we asked all our
patients if they wear contact lenses simply to facilitate scheduling," he says.
"We now use the scheduling call to encourage interest in wearing contact lenses.
If a patient says he's not wearing contact lenses, we ask if he's ever wanted to
wear them. Frequently, this starts a
conversation about past failures with contact
lenses, which we usually can address by discussing the newest technologies, especially
silicone hydrogel lenses."
This simple dialogue has resulted in
many new contact lens fits for patients who never were asked if they wanted to try
contact lenses or, if they were previous wearers, why they stopped.
ZONE 2: RECEPTION
Bobst's patients don't merely check in when they arrive for their appointments.
They learn more about what the practice offers.
"On the front page of our history
form, we stamp a little notice about our discount on spectacles purchased on
the same day as contact lenses," he says. "We post reminders about the program on
placards in the contact lens area. I've also trained my assistants to ask patients
about their backup spectacles and to follow up with details on the program."
ZONE 3: PRE-EXAM
Before Dr. Bobst sees a
patient, his assistants review the patient's history and tailor their comments to
her needs. "For example, they may say, 'Mrs. Smith, Dr. Bobst has some new toric
(or bifocal) contact lenses to discuss with you. They are wetter, more comfortable
and transmit more oxygen than the older lenses, which is healthier for your eyes,'"
he says. "My technicians also talk about their own personal experiences or relate
a similar patient's experience with new contact lens technology." Patient health
plays a key role in how Dr. Bobst approaches the conversation.
"We discuss comfort issues with
each patient," he says. "I find that when I talk about contact lenses, especially
the ACUVUE® OASYS™ Brand Contact Lenses with HYDRACLEAR™
PLUS, I get a very positive response from current full-time wearers, part-time
wearers and contact lens dropouts. They all want to wear these lenses."
Dr. Bobst has been very successful
in converting patients to contact lenses. "With the ACUVUE® OASYS™,
I convert about two in 10 patients who have had their spectacles less than 3 years
to a spectacles/contact lens combination, mostly because they still have their
conversion rate for patients with spectacles more than 3 years old is about one
out of 10. These patients are intrigued by the newer silicone hydrogels, especially
the ACUVUE® OASYS™."
ZONE 4: EXAM ROOM
Dr. Bobst's patients expect
him to tell them all about the latest contact lens technology, which he is happy
to do. "Many times, the first thing a patient will say to me when I come into the
exam room is: 'Tell me about these new lenses,'" he says. "I built my practice by
using the newest technology, both during exams and in the products I prescribe.
"Because my assistants tailor
their discussions to each individual patient before their exams, patients often
ask me about the newest technology before I can bring it up. During the exam, I
will detail important clinical factors such as UV protection, wettability and oxygen
transmissibility. Then I have the patient try a pair on. Once they experience
the ACUVUE® OASYS™, it sells itself."
ZONE 5: FITTING AREA AND POST-EXAM
Dr. Bobst offers an annual
dispense program, which he feels improves compliance and increases loyalty.
"We actively promote our yearly
dispense program, which stresses convenience. Patients don't have to remember
to order their lenses every 3 or 6 months, and with direct shipping, they don't
have to come to the office to pick them up," he says. "We ship to patients'
homes or workplaces when possible. A secondary benefit to shipping to a patient's
workplace is that it generates interest among coworkers while making the delivery
somehow more special.
"We also stress the economy of a yearly
supply using manufacturers' rebates. This is the least expensive way to obtain contact
lenses, and we can detail the savings by year and by box."
When he first started the annual dispense
program, Dr. Bobst needed to present it to each patient. "But each year, it becomes
easier, and now my staff can handle it because the patients already participating
almost always continue," he says. "It is worth the chair time to develop these relationships
with contact lens patients early on. Now I spend time converting new patients and
getting them into yearly lens dispensing.
"I believe part of our success is because
the information comes from me first. About 80% of our patients participate in our
yearly dispense program."
NO 'TYPICAL' PATIENT
Is there a "typical" contact
lens patient? Not in Dr. Bobst's practice. "Each patient has idiosyncrasies consistent
with individual contact lens usage," he says. "In a private practice like mine,
we focus on the individual patient, whether he's a contact lens patient, a spectacles
patient or a combination of the two." Dr. Bobst is finding that the newer contact
lens technology, like that of the ACUVUE® OASYS™, is a driving
force for his business.
"With the ACUVUE®
OASYS™, I have been converting spectacles patients into at least part-time
contact lens wear," he says. "The ACUVUE® OASYS™ is the best
lens I have ever prescribed for my patients, and they appreciate it. When they get
fitted for this lens, they rave about it to their friends. Then those friends come
in to see what all the fuss is about. Many of my newer patients tell me their eyecare
professional never mentioned the idea of wearing both contact lenses and spectacles.
They weren't considered good candidates. But listening to my patients has shown
that almost anyone is a candidate."
ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses
are indicated for vision correction. Eye problems, including corneal ulcers, can
develop. Some wearers may experience mild irritation, itching or discomfort. Lenses
should not be prescribed if patients have any eye infection, or experience eye discomfort,
excessive tearing, vision changes, redness or other eye problems. Consult the package
insert for complete information. Complete information is also available from VISTAKON®
(800) 843-2020 or by visiting Acuvue.com.
Helps protect against transmission
of harmful UV radiation to the cornea and into the eye. WARNING: UV-absorbing contact
lenses are NOT substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing
goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding
area. You should continue to use UV-absorbing eyewear as directed. NOTE: Long-term
exposure to UV radiation is one of the risk factors associated with cataracts. Exposure
is based on a number of factors, such as environmental conditions (altitude, geography,
and cloud cover) and personal factors (extent and nature of outdoor activities).
UV-blocking contact lenses help provide protection against harmful UV radiation.
However, clinical studies have not been done to demonstrate that wearing UV-blocking
contact lenses reduced the risk of developing cataracts and other eye disorders.
Consult your eyecare practitioner for more information.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: September 2006