Doctor Patient Relations

3 Most Powerful Exam Room Questions to Ask Patients

By Masoud Nafey, OD, FAAO

Feb. 19, 2020

The time you have with patients in the exam room is precious. It’s your time to provide a high level of care, while directing the patient to additional services and products that can help them lead better lives. Here are a few key questions to ask each patient in your exam room.

What Are All The Glasses, Contacts & Sunwear You Are Currently Wearing?
We must understand what type of correction our patients are currently utilizing, if anything. Learning what they like and dislike about their current eyewear will help shape the discussion on what needs to be addressed in their next purchase.

We often are rushing to solve the problems patients are having by presenting new technologies and lens options. We have to be careful not to overlook this important question, as their current pain points will influence their future purchasing decisions.

I like to start with, “First, tell me what you like and dislike about your current frame and lenses?”
I will make a mental note on what they like so I don’t waste time trying to convince them to change something they’re already happy with.

I like to stay up to date with the newest lens technologies so I can better educate my patients on the latest and greatest lenses that will provide solutions to their visual needs and improve their quality of life.

Do You Know About the Different Lens Materials & How These Different Lenses Can Help You?
Educate, educate, educate. Your patient hearing this from their doctor is much more effective than your patient hearing this from their optician (who they may perceive to be a salesperson). Your focus should be on providing a solution for their complaints and visual needs. If they end up selecting the wrong lens material for their respective vision prescription, they could easily end up a “problem patient” who feels your Rx is the problem—when it is really their lens choices.

At times, we focus so much on addressing our patients’ ocular disease and other conditions that we forget to talk about the most common disease in all our patients—refractive error! Many ODs also fear getting into the materials conversation because they don’t want to feel like a salesperson.

Start with, “I want to educate you on frame and lens options, so you can make the best decision possible for your next pair of glasses.”

You will often find that your patients know little about eyewear, especially the different lens materials. Just educating them on this will make you stand out from the other ECPs they’ve been to.

I find my patients are appreciative of the lens technology education. In their minds, I went above and beyond to ensure they make the best decision for themselves. Naturally, this extra care tends to lead to a productive optical business.

Focus on your strengths, which is patient care. If you focus on care when bringing up materials, you’ll find it a lot easier to have these discussions without feeling like a salesperson.

Do You Know About Advanced Lens Treatments that Can Make Good Lenses Great?
Your focus should be on providing a solution for their complaints and visual needs. If they end up omitting an anti-reflective coating or a photochromic option and they learn from a co-worker or family member how amazing those additions have been for their vision, they may find a new ECP because you never educated them. We don’t want our patients not having the best lenses just because we didn’t take the time to educate them about all their options when it comes to selecting the right lenses for their lifestyle.

Start with, “Have you heard of the latest lens technologies? If not, would you like me to go over any of them with you?”

I often find my patients wanting to learn more about a specific lens option. In turn, this actually leads to me learning more about my patients’ lifestyle and visual needs.

For example, perhaps my patient has never mentioned they love golfing, but once I mention photochromic lenses, this conversation comes up. Now, I’ve made a deeper personal connection with them and they’re sold on the idea of photochromic lenses. The same can be said about mentioning polarized lenses and the impact polarization has when looking across a body of water like the ocean, and then the patient mentions that they love fishing.

The more you know about your patients’ lifestyle and hobbies, the easier this conversation is. You can focus your lens product discussions on what patients use their eyes for on a daily basis.


Masoud Nafey, OD, FAAO, is Chief Medical Officer for VisionWeb. To contact him: 

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