Tell Your Patients The Best Option
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
At the most recent American Optometric Association meeting, I met with a number of contact lens industry leaders. One topic we discussed was how eyecare practitioners can recommend what they believe is best for a patient and for contact lens practice profitability. I will explain what I believe are good practices for making recommendations and profits that are in the patients' and the practitioners' best interests. Many of you frequently remind me that legally and ethically we must inform patients about their options. And you should -- after you recommend what you believe is best.
First, recommend contact lenses to spectacle wearers when they are good candidates -- even if they don't ask about them. This applies to patients who express interest in refractive surgery who, because of today's improved contact lenses, may not be the contact lens failures they think they are. This is especially true for astigmats and presbyopes who have optimal prescriptions for contact lens wear.
If you are not assertive and you feel uncomfortable saying, "You are a good contact lens candidate," try, "You may be a good contact lens candidate," or ask, "Have you ever considered contact lenses?" Proactive discussions about contact lenses have repeatedly proven to increase contact lens practice.
Is this in every patient's best interest? Today's contact lenses offer superior technology and safety, and contact lens patients recall the joy of their first day of successful contact wear. Why is proactive prescribing so rare? Because some patients do fail in contact lens wear. Practitioners subconsciously want to avoid the chair time and they consciously think that contact lens patients are less profitable and require a little or a lot more work. But over time, contact lens patients are more profitable than spectacle only wearers. They have more frequent examinations and are more loyal than spectacle patients. And success rates are higher than ever.
Once the patient is interested, next you must recommend what you believe is the best option for that patient. Notice I didn't say "the most reasonably priced option." I want my dentist and attending physician to tell me the best option. Sure I want to know the others, and I can ask about fees, but I certainly want to know first what is best. For our patients, this may be a continuous wear lens, a multifocal, a toric lens, a GP lens or a single-use lens, but it should be what you believe is best. Contact lens practice is less of an art and more of a science now. We can't predict everything, but we can predict better safety than in the past, more stable toric lenses, more success with multifocals and better-than-ever results with most care regimens.
So recommend contact lenses, recommend what you believe is the best option, answer your patients' questions about fees and other options and profit more from your happy, successful contact lens patients.