By Maria Sampalis, OD
August 2, 2017
Electronic health records provide efficiency and cost-savings, and they have another benefit: You can drill into your patient database to identify needs, and then market to patients based on those needs.
In my practice, there are six areas where we use EHR-based marketing to build the services we provide.
Dry Eye & Computer Vision Syndrome
Dry eye and computer vision syndrome are becoming more common, and often go hand-in-hand.
You can send an e-mail to patients, which your EHR identifies as having a diagnosis of one, or both, of those conditions. Be sure your marketing piece starts with education on what both dry eye and CVS is, and then present a few solutions your office can provide, such as a couple photos of blue light-protecting computer glasses with AR, brief information about the products, and a summary of the dry eye treatments you can provide when a new pair of glasses alone isn’t enough.
You also can send an e-mail letting patients know about the new dry eye drops your office can prescribe, along with the procedures, such as collagen plugs, that you can do for them. You might even be able to piggyback on a major consumer marketing campaign. For instance, Shire recently advertised its new eye drop targeting dry eye to the public. If you provide that drop in your office, you could link to the ad in your e-mail.
Patients with allergies should be sent information reminding them of their allergies, including the symptoms they might experience, right before allergy season.
Alerting patients with a history of ocular allergy complaints before symptoms begins allows you to provide a service, keeping patients comfortable.
At the same time, it allows you to better plan your schedule during allergy season. If your e-mail generates a high response from patients who want to come in, you can plan in advance to pick certain days and times just for allergy sufferers. Or you at least know that you will need to add spots on your calendar for brief appointments with allergy patients in between your longer comprehensive exam slots.
Your e-mails to allergy patients should focus on a description of symptoms, rather than the diagnosis of ocular allergies. Many patients may have forgotten that they were diagnosed with ocular allergies, but they probably will remember the itchy, watery eyes they experience every spring and fall.
Macular Degeneration & Glaucoma
Reach out at least once year specifically to patients with a family history of eye diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Market your technology, or new services, as part of the preventative care you offer. Got a new OCT or retinal camera? Let the world know! Send an e-mail noting the heightened importance for people with family history of eye disease to visit annually, or more, for exams. Then, note the specific eye diseases that the technology in your office, and your expertise, can address. Be sure to sure to include photos of your new instrumentation, explaining in laymen terms what each piece of technology does for the patient, and how regular screening using the technology can make the preservation of the patient’s sight more likely.
You can even send e-mails about particular eye diseases to specific ethnic groups. For example, you could sent an e-mail about glaucoma to all of your African-American patients, noting the higher risk that patients in certain ethnic groups, including theirs, is at for the disease, and how your office can help.
Patients with diabetes are at higher risk of complications, such as diabetic retinopathy. Remind them of the importance of an annual eye exam, or if they have been diagnosed with an eye-related complication already, you can remind them of when you need to see them next.
You can include easy-to-understand graphics, or instrumentation photography, to explain what can happen to the eye when a patient has diabetes, and how early detection can often avoid vision loss.
Contact Lenses, New Patients & Upgrades
Your contact lens patients they might not know that there are more comfortable and convenient contact lens options for them. For example, even though you told a two-week contact lens-wearer that it might be better for them to switch to a monthly- or daily-disposable lens, they may have forgotten. The two-week lens patient who regularly over-wears their lens for the whole month, or longer, might be interested to learn about a lens that was designed specifically to be worn for a full month. Or they may not realize there are lenses that can be thrown away at the end of each day, doing away with the need to clean and store, and providing a fresh, comfortable lens every morning.
You can send e-mails targeting patients in two-week contacts, or just those in monthly lenses, or you can even send e-mails to patients with specific visual challenges, like astigmatism and presbyopia. The e-mail can focus on the benefits of toric and multifocal contact lenses, and how the right lenses can change their lives, allowing the presbyopic patient to stop carrying around reading glasses, or allowing an astigmatic patient, who has never worn contact lenses, to give them a try.
Younger patients may be more likely to be drawn to fashion-forward sunwear and frames, especially when worn by celebrities.
One idea is to link the products you sell in your optical to a photo of a celebrity wearing a similar style. You can do that by linking to a photo you happened to see in an online publication, or by linking to an online clip from a movie in which the character wears eyewear similar to the kind you sell.
You also can include a promotion in these e-mails for a discount when buying a second pair, or a particular brand of sunwear.
Maria Sampalis OD, practices at Sampalis Eye Care in Warwick RI. She is also the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook. Dr. Sampalis is also founder of the new job site corporateoptometrycareers.com and www.corporateoptometry.com. She is available for practice management consulting. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org