Doctor Patient Relations

Practice-Building Exam Room Conversations

By Gina M. Wesley, OD, MS, FAAO

June 21, 2017

The conversations you have with patients in the exam room set the stage for ongoing care and purchases in your optical. Here are three essential conversations I have with patients that enable me to provide topnotch care, while facilitating eyewear purchases and fulfillment of my treatment plans.

My conversation is reinforced in all these cases with a high-tech screen presentation of eye conditions, optical solutions, or treatment. This provides a one-two punch in patient education.

Dry Eye
Conversation starter: I educate the patient during the portion of the exam in which I’m examining their eyes under a slit lamp. I tell them what I’m examining related to meibomian glands, those glands’ function, as well as the result if they aren’t functioning properly: dry eye disease. I then move on to my animated education system from Rendia (formerly Eyemaginations) to show them a simulation of non-functioning glands and dry eye.

In my presentation to the patient, I move from the anterior segment through the posterior segment. I don’t show a video to everyone; only to those for whom I’m recommending a return visit to the office for further evaluation. Everyone else is shown an animation, and told what their gland function looks like, if it’s normal and why it’s important. It’s key to educate patients on the prevention of dry eye disease.

The education I provide takes about 30 seconds total for each patient, and probably just 1-2 minutes longer for those I want to return.

Click HERE to watch a video on how I discuss and manage dry eye with my patients.

Common patient responses: Patients ask me what they can do to treat their dry eye and prevent it from coming back. I discuss lid hygiene, warm compresses/massage, omega supplementation, prescription dry eye medications, when appropriate, and the need for further testing in my office.

Resulting treatment & purchases: I have some patients choose to implement the regimens I’ve discussed with them, and many choose to come back for further testing, who then opt for more advanced treatments (such as LipiFlow), as well as the regimens mentioned previously.

Revenues & resulting practice growth: My capture rate for those who are proceeding with the dry eye treatment I have prescribed, including LipiFlow, is 75 percent.

Daily Disposable Contact Lenses
Conversation starter: I ask the patient about their current wearing experience with their existing contact lens brand. I then discuss new opportunities for enhanced daily wear with contact lenses, as well as improved safety and less complications. As a part of the fitting, I recommend they try wearing a daily disposable for 10 days to see if they prefer it compared to their current brand.

Click HERE to watch a video on how I discuss and encourage patients to try daily disposable contact lenses.

Common patient responses: Patients will ask about pricing, and I reassure them that my staff will provide them with pricing information on the new lenses compared to their current lenses, factoring in savings due to rebates and no longer needing to buy contact lens solution.

Resulting treatment & purchases: The increased profitability of daily disposable lens sales, and more satisfied contact lens wearers, are the primary benefits. Eight-five percent of my contact lens wearers are in daily disposables, so my patient education strategy has proven itself time and again.

Revenues & resulting practice growth: There are larger profit margins on annual supply purchases, they offer increased ease-of-use for part-time patients, they lessen dropout rates, and daily-disposable patients are often more loyal because you have put them in the latest technology, and satisfied patients refer others, growing your patient base.

Blue light protection
Conversation starter: I ask patients about their current digital device use, and then educate them on the potential risks of high-energy blue light exposure for visual fatigue, exposure to the photoreceptors of the macula and sleep pattern disruption. I then prescribe/educate on the variety of blue light protection options that are available through my office.

Click HERE to learn more about how I discuss blue light with my patients, and provide products to help protect their eyes.

Common patient responses: Patients will ask more details about the various options, and I will have my optical staff demonstrate and show them the products.

Resulting treatment & purchases: We sell screen protectors for smartphones and tablets, and plano blue light lenses in pre-selected frames, as well as a variety of Rx products/lens treatments.

Revenues & resulting practice growth: I sell pre-made plano BluTech specs in frames of my choosing, and offer Rx BluTech specs for patients, at much of the same costs as what doctors are used to for “clear” specs. We sell this to patients as an add-on, much like Transitions. I sell anywhere from 20-30 pairs (plano or Rx) per month, and this has become my number one second- or third-pair sale in the office.

 

 

Gina Wesley, OD, MS, FAAO, owns Complete Eye Care of Medina, Minn. To contact her: drwesley@cecofmedina.com

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