Use Each Minute to Educate
BY VISHAKHA THAKRAR, OD, FAAO
Cultivating compliance begins the moment patients enter our offices. From their experience in the waiting area through their work up, we can use every minute to educate our patients. We just need to be proactive and take advantage of this opportunity.
Essentially, what we don't say to a patient is as important as what we do say. What we don't do is as important as what we do. Omitting important information with respect to contact lens care gives our patients a green light to develop noncompliant habits.
We can incorporate several measures into our offices to encourage contact lens compliance.
Solution recommendations are critical at every annual office visit. Many solutions are available and patients can easily become confused. In our practice, we always inquire about the solutions patients are using, and we encourage the use of specific solutions with their respective lenses. Properly educated patients will likely treat contact lenses and solutions as prescriptive devices and will not be as willing to switch from a recommended solution.
Contact lens technology has improved dramatically over the past 10 years. Silicone hydrogel lenses may offer benefits such as improved comfort and physiology to many patients, including those who formerly had difficulty with hydrogel lenses. Daily disposable lenses are an outstanding option for patients who are sensitive to solutions, have allergies, are heavy depositors or are part-time or full-time wearers.
By embracing new technology and educating patients about these new offerings, patients are more aware that each lens demonstrates different qualities and therefore should be treated individually. This knowledge can reduce problems associated with contact lens noncompliance.
Providing written material for new and existing lens wearers is essential to encourage compliance. People tend to absorb more information when verbal communication is supplemented with written communication. Topics may include: what's new with contact lenses, the importance of annual eye exams, solution and lens compliance, etc.
Additionally, ask patients whether they wish to receive emails or mailings about lens advances. By providing literature about new lens technologies, we give patients the perception that our offices remain current and provide outstanding patient care.
In general, communication is necessary for proper education and to avoid the potential consequences of poor contact lens care.
Patient Access to Lenses
Many patients use the Internet to order lenses because of convenience and cost issues, yet only a small percentage of us use the Internet to encourage contact lens sales within our own practices. By making ourselves accessible via the Internet, we become just as convenient as the Internet companies, and are able to better control the length of time that a patient may order lenses.
In addition, we should always offer to mail lenses to patients. Convenience is an integral part of today's society, and we should incorporate it into patient care.
Always recommend annual lens exams. If you educate patients to purchase a year's supply of lenses, they will be less likely to "stretch" their lens replacement schedule. To supplement this practice, provide yearly reminders to emphasize the importance of maintaining ocular health.
Compliance Starts With You
Compliance begins in our practices. It's our responsibility to educate patients to wear lenses safely. What we demonstrate in our offices will likely permeate their lens routine. CLS
Dr. Thakrar has a specialty contact lens practice and is a clinical optometrist at the TLC Laser Eye Center in Mississauga, Ontario. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and completed a residency in cornea and contact Lenses at the New England College of Optometry.