How Would You Handle This Challenging Scenario?

Patient Gets Annoyed When She Can't Redeem A Free Trial Lens Coupon After an Eye Exam

How Would You Handle This Challenging Scenario?

Patient Gets Annoyed When She Can't Redeem A Free Trial Lens Coupon After an Eye Exam

Patient Tracy Eckert, a spectacles wearer, walked out of the exam room and approached the reception desk.

"All set?" receptionist Penny Jacobs asked.

"Yep. No new prescription for me this time," Tracy replied, as she searched her purse for the free trial lens coupon she downloaded from the manufacturer's Web site.

"May I have your insurance card?" Penny asked. "Sure," Tracy said, handing it to the receptionist. "Oh here it is," Tracy mumbled, finally finding the coupon. "I have a coupon for free trial contact lenses," Tracy said. "Can I get a pair? I'd like to try them to see if I'd like them. All my friends wear them."

"Well, before you can take advantage of the free trial lens offer, you'll need to schedule an eye exam and a contact lens fitting," advised technician Sarah Reynolds, who overheard Tracy talking to the receptionist. "But I just had an eye exam," Tracy replied. "Why would I need another one?"

"You won't need another one, but you'll need to schedule an appointment for a fitting," Sarah said.

"This coupon is very misleading, then, because it doesn't say that you need an eye exam and a contact lens fitting," Tracy snapped. "I don't know if my insurance is going to pay for the contact lens fitting. Why offer free lenses when you have to go through so much just to get them?"

If you were Sarah, what would you do or say next?

► Julie Rhoades, CPO, LDO, EyeCare Professionals of Powell, Powell, Ohio

I'd say to Tracy, "Great! We'd love for you to wear contact lenses. You'll need to have a few more tests to get a perfect fit for your eyes. Your doctor will want to make sure you're totally successful with your new contact lenses, and one of our technicians will teach you proper insertion and removal techniques. We'll also need to review our contact lens agreement and fees and any questions you have. I can ask the doctor if he's available for a fitting right now, or should I schedule you for a more convenient time?"

When we educate patients in a positive way, they're more comfortable with the fees. We address this issue proactively by informing patients about contact lens fitting fees up front when they schedule their exams. This minimizes surprises and uncomfortable situations at the front desk.

► Shanda P., billing specialist, Eyecare Consultants – Vision Source, Englewood Colo.

First, I'd assure Tracy that we can certainly redeem the coupon after the doctor has examined her eyes and fitted her for contact lenses. I'd explain that there are some extra steps involved in an eye exam when you want to wear contact lenses versus eyeglasses. Then, I'd ask her, "When would you like to schedule that appointment?" If she asked about the cost, I'd explain that "the doctor determines a contact lens management fee, which doesn't cover your initial trial pair of lenses or any necessary follow-up visits. Once you're fitted for the lenses, you'll receive that pair of free trial lenses."

► Lois Bighill, vision therapy coordinator, Pacific University College of Optometry, Forest Grove, Ore.

I'd explain to Tracy that the eye exam she just had was for her eyeglasses. The special exam she needs for contact lenses involves a fitting process that will enable the doctor to determine which lenses are best for her eyes. Once the doctor fits her for contact lenses, she'd automatically keep those diagnostic lenses. I'd ask her if she'd like to schedule an appointment for a contact lens fitting or call the office during clinic hours, at which time we'd be happy to assist her.

► Rena J., office manager, Eyecare Consultants – Vision Source, Englewood Colo.

I'd explain to Tracy that a contact lens is a medical device that's placed on her eyes, so an eye exam that involves a contact lens fitting is necessary. Once the fitting is completed, a technician will teach her how to insert, remove and care for her contact lenses. In addition, I'd tell her that after the fitting, we'd give her the free diagnostic contact lenses and schedule her for a follow-up visit to ensure the lenses were working well for her. I'd also explain that her doctor will work with her until they're both pleased with the lenses, the visual acuity and comfort. ■