By Vittorio Mena OD, MS
Jan. 27, 2021
Families of new patients, in which mom and dad and kids–and maybe even the grandparents–come in for comprehensive exams and specialized services, can jump-start practice growth. Here are a few ways we are getting the word out to our community about what we do.
Marketing via Relationship with Local Education Association & Department of Health
Our practice, Optical Academy, has a unique approach to eyecare. We have a brick-and-mortar office in Clifton, N.J., as well as mobile units that travel all over New Jersey and New York City to provide on-site eyecare. We are able to bring all our digital equipment inside a school system or worksite and set up an eye exam lane/optical shop to provide quality eye exams to the public. We work heavily with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the New York City Department of Health, which allows us to constantly market ourselves to families with children.
Editors’ Note: Not all states permit “mobile” eye exams, or only permit them in certain circumstances, such as nursing homes. Therefore, it’s best to contact your state board for consultation before adding a mobile unit to your practice.
We have discussions with teachers, nurses, principals, coaches and parents about the importance of eyecare and the need for early eye exams to diagnose undetected visual problems. NJEA has us come out to its schools and community fairs, and they advertise that we will be there. NJEA even has our practice listed as one of its members’ benefits, so that members get discounted pricing with us for a comprehensive eye examination, eyewear and contact lens fittings. We see NJEA members year round in our office and during mobile, on-site visits. Some patients, who require in-office care, will travel 1-2 hours just to see us for services, which I find remarkable. Trust and credibility will go a long way.
Engaging on Social Media Individual to Individual
As we are in the digital age, we optimize social media to stay in touch with current patients, and bring new ones in. Optical Academy typically posts daily on either LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram to promote our services and the joys we have helping our communities see a beautiful day every day.
The beauty of this type of marketing is that it does not cost anything. Regularly posting to social media creates a pipeline to new patients. Somebody, and then another somebody, will come across the posts and mention to their friends, family or colleagues that they keep seeing posts about our practice, and to go check us out.
With the patient’s permission, I personally post photos on Facebook of friends from high school or college who came into my office for an eye exam. Doing this, and tagging them in the post, means it will eventually pop up in peoples’ news feeds. This then helps reconnect with other friends who want to come in for an exam. I have had significant success doing this. Plus, it’s fun to see a familiar face again after so many years. I even have friends come from other states to see me for their eye exams after seeing my social media posts.
Editors’ Note: It is important to not just get permission, but a signed HIPPA Marketing Authorization form, whenever featuring a patient in marketing, including marketing via social media.
The best part about it is that I get to educate these old friends about the importance of their kids getting an eye exam at an early age. Patients with children often do not know that their child can get an eye exam as young as six months old. Many times parents will wait for their child to have a problem before coming in for their eye exam. Sometimes they wait too long, and the child struggles unnecessarily in school.
Networking for Referrals with Other Health-Care Practices Via Telemedicine
On October 29, 2020, Optical Academy launched TeleEyes, a new online platform, to eyecare practices across the country to join as members. This network includes partnerships with the education associations in members’ home states. TeleEyes connects eyecare specialists to patients online (in states where telemedicine is allowed; connecting patients to doctors licensed in their state) any time, anywhere and provides immediate consultations to treat, educate and refer patients for in-person care when necessary.
Our communities, patients and members have an opportunity to connect with telemedicine providers in optometry, ophthalmology and opticianry. This new online telemedicine network has given us greater ability to offer services for our families and children in the office, in their school setting, or provide an online platform for better patient education. TeleEyes is being marketed through the National Education Association and through my practice’s social media accounts.
We expect TeleEyes to be a game-changer since people are looking for the newest and latest ways online to receive care. This new online platform gives them an easy way to connect with the appropriate doctor for their eyecare and eyewear.
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On TeleEyes.com, patients are linked to providers who are closest in proximity to their location so that in-person treatment can be available if needed. The sky is the limit when you can offer your patients convenience, affordability and great quality care.
The more providers that are available the more we are able to deliver at a national scale. If you are a passionate eyecare professional who wants to provide telemedicine services, and get connected to our communities and members online, please send an e-mail to: Abby@teleeyes.com.