Easy ways to show patients why they should pick you over a competitor.
By Alan P. Levitt, OD
Dec. 13, 2023
Independent practices today have tough competition from other independents, corporate-owned optical chains and online retailers.
Here are simple, but high value, actions that helped me maintain and grow my comprehensive primary eyecare practice.
1. Assign one staff person to manage your social media. They should monitor all reviews, good and bad, and respond with your input.
2. Make running on time a purposeful goal. Doing so showed that our office (doctor and staff alike) respected and valued our patients’ time and wanted to efficiently address their needs.
3. Inform as you perform: Describe what you are doing and why. Early in my practice, I added a video attachment to my slit lamp. It only took a few seconds to make a short video to show patients areas of concern and it greatly increased patient acceptance of management and treatment plans.
4. Always review all diagnostic medical test results (including wide field fundus images and OCT) with patients; compare back to any baselines you have.
5. Tell patients that medical eye emergencies will be seen the same day.
6. Provide written educational information on each patient’s specific conditions and schedule appropriate special testing, follow-up, or referral.
7. Provide clear, simple written instructions for all topical and oral medications you prescribe, including prescription and over-the-counter products. Share any common side effects that may occur and instruct patients to immediately stop and call you if they occur.
8. When referrals are necessary, provide a succinct written summary of your findings, test results and concerns for the patient to hand-carry to the specialist; include your presumed diagnoses and any specific testing you want the specialist to perform.
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9. Track referrals to confirm the specialist saw the patient and sent you a written report. Make a follow-up call to patients with serious medical concerns to show your concern.
10. Always return all patient calls the same day. I never left the office without returning calls.
11. Have your technicians clean the exam room equipment directly in front of every patient. Even if patients don’t say anything, be assured this is something they notice. Because this was office procedure for many years prior to COVID, our established patients repeatedly told us they were very confident we would institute strong protocols. Patients notice if your equipment is clean and functions well. A dirty and cluttered office or nasty patient restroom are major turn offs.
12. Have a friendly human being answer the phone. Stagger staff lunches so one person is available during lunch to answer the phone, dispense glasses or contacts, and adjust or repair glasses. Remember that optometry is a personal service business, and many people use their lunch hour to run errands.
13. Require your contact-lens representatives to keep your trial lens sets fully stocked. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if you are missing a specific trial lens you need during a follow-up visit or fitting. Patients have busy lives and want to address as much as possible at each visit.
14. Work with your pharmaceutical representatives to keep adequate up-to-date samples available.
15. If you see a patient has bilateral or unilateral blepharoptosis, offer a complimentary in-office trial of Upneeq in one eye. Take before and after pictures of both eyes with their cell phone, so they can see the difference. Don’t forget to treat the other eye if they appreciate the effect.
Alan P. Levitt, OD, now retired, was a practice owner in Miami, Fla, for over three decades before selling his practice in 2021. To contact him: email@example.com