Take the Time to Educate Your Patients
By Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
I am sure you are aware that there are numerous online forums that allow patients to discuss their contact lenses or ophthalmic conditions, and I am quite certain that in many instances, these forums can be very beneficial. There are several motivations that drive patients to participate in online medical forums including, but not limited to, factors such as education, sympathy, resources, networking, and finances. More often than not, these motivations are usually well intended.
That said, if you have ever spent a few minutes on any of these forums, you may also be quite surprised, if not astounded, at the misinformation that is communicated, shared, and accepted. After recently perusing a bit of this content, I came to realize, or to be reminded of, a few important considerations that relate to how we care for our patients.
We can do better at making sure that our patients receive proper education in terms of things such as lens wear and care, follow up, and compliance. Professional fees and fees for devices need to be not only discussed up-front, but also justified in a consumer-oriented healthcare market. Make sure to distinguish yourself and the services that you provide to a patient. And lastly, spend time and take a moment to empathize with your patients. It's been well documented that the key to avoiding litigation in medicine is time spent with patients and communication. A little time listening can go a long way.