the business of contact lenses
Admit That You Don't Know it All
BY GARY GERBER, OD
A local newspaper reporter recently interviewed me for a story about how our consulting company works with doctor-clients. In the finished article, she referred to us as the "gurus of practice management." I found that comment very flattering. That was until my phone rang about 10 minutes later. It was a client asking a question about the finer points of PQRI reporting, and I told him, "I don't know, but we'll find out." So much for guru status.
Why We Can Never Know it All
We're not practice building gurus any more than you are a contact lens guru. That would imply that our knowledge base is full, current and perfect. If it were, there would be no reason to continue learning and growing. As you're reading this article, I can assure you that some contact lens company somewhere on earth is developing a new contact lens that will benefit some segment of your patient population. And when you finally get that lens, you'll have to learn about it. Be it the nuances of PQRI or fitting pearls for the next great lens, your contact lens practices and my consulting company are linked by having to negotiate a continuous stream of newness.
Given that newness is likely a part of your patients' worlds too, how can you ever credibly put yourself forth as an expert? Unless you can see the future and use that future knowledge today, you can't.
Market Your Ongoing Education
Twist this logic around and use the concept as a marketing advantage. Instead of claiming your expert status to your patients, claim that you're an expert learner — an expert in taking the time to stay up-to-date and at disseminating what's new to your patients. Instead of creating the incredulous illusion of being a "contact lens know-it-all," broadcast to patients that you're always learning and will keep them informed regarding what you learn.
Your patients probably don't know that you're required to take ongoing continuing education to keep your license current. When you take a class relative to contact lens patient benefits — for example, a course titled "How to decrease dry eye in contact lens patients" — let your patients know. While this may seem mundane to you, your patients can probably only visualize you wearing your white coat in your office, not sitting in a classroom. So if you attend a national meeting and take contact lens courses, tell your patients about it.
A great way to disseminate this information is via e-mail or on your Web site. This allows you to link to information relevant to the course you just took. So, if one part of a course you took discussed a new contact lens material, include a link to the material's manufacturer in your Web site news story.
Maintain a database of patients who are less than perfectly happy with their contact lenses. For example, let's say you have patients categorized in your practice management software as tolerating their current presbyopic contact lens correction rather than enjoying it. If you return from a class on a new multifocal lens, contact these patients and let them know what you just learned. If having them come in for a consultation is appropriate, then invite them in.
Also consider holding an in-office seminar that dovetails with what you just learned. If you need a few patients to try a new lens on, consider someone in the seminar audience. Because the number of attendees at such a seminar is likely to be small, contact these patients by phone to make the invitation personal and intimate.
Above all, be prepared to brag that you don't know it all. CLS
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.