It is mandatory that we create an atmosphere in our office that is inviting for patients. The ability to implement new technologies, new strategies, or fit new products is enhanced by that atmosphere. When patients walk into our offices, they should feel like they are in the right place to experience innovation and understand why they chose us.
One way to do that is to keep our offices clean (I mean really clean) and free of clutter. You should also only have information or POP in the office that has a story. We discussed in an earlier article that by having posters with product information around the office it is easier to start conversations. It’s important to note that it works best if there are very few of these “around” to keep the message consistent.
Once the patient has been properly impressed by the care your team has given them through the gathering of information in what many call “pre-test,” and they have heard about cosmetic lenses from the receptionist and your team in pre-test, they are now ready to see the practitioner.
The Initial Conversation
My first conversation in the exam room is a happy and cheerful: “Welcome (or welcome back) to our office Allison, thank you so much for coming in today. My name is April, Dr. Jasper. Tell me how I can help you today.” After this introduction, I truly sit facing the patient with a pen and paper in hand and listen and take notes. Even though I have used an EHR since 2006 and we don’t keep any paper, I have found that patients don’t believe I am truly listening or believe that I care if I am not taking notes while they talk—so, I take notes.
When the patient is finished I then say, “So if I understand you correctly, your goals for today are… .” The point of this summary is to let the patient know I have listened and intend to make the visit about them.
I then go on to ask them if they are interested in both glasses and contacts. If they say “yes,” I follow it up with “We have some beautiful new color contacts lenses available, would you like to try those on today as well?”
If they say they aren’t interested in both glasses and contacts, I ask them if they have ever worn contacts. Many patients have dropped out of contacts in the past and don’t know there are better products available today. Or, many may have been told in the past that they were not candidates for contacts. It is always rewarding to turn these patients into happy contact lens patients. The conversation takes about two minutes and at the end you have created very happy patients who now know they can wear contacts and have the option of colors as well.
Once I have refracted the patient, I then begin the discussion of which type of contact lens I think is best for them. If the lens I am prescribing is a multifocal, I still give them an opportunity to try colors. If the lens is a daily disposable, I still have them try on colors. I do not think of colors as a lens that replaces another but as an add-on product that they will use in addition to another. Some patients like having the add-on option and others end up becoming an avid color contact lens every day wearer. They don’t always know which they will be until they have a chance to wear them.
Let your patients feel your commitment to innovation and patient care by creating an atmosphere in your office that shows them not only with the cleanliness and décor, but also with the people in your office that demonstrate this commitment with every action they take. If you do this, they will continue to return and will look forward to hearing about and experiencing the latest in eye care.
April Jasper, OD, FAAO has a private practice in West Palm Beach, Florida. She serves on several Advisory boards including VSP, Vision Source, Allergan and Alcon. Dr. Jasper is Benedict Professor in practice management at Houston College of Optometry. Her passion is sharing with her colleagues in areas of practice management and technology in an effort to help them become more successful in patient care and personal growth.