By Susan Resnick, OD, FAAO, FSLS
July 14, 2021
Having fit Ortho-K lenses for some 20 years, I have always had a steady, but small, segment of myopic patients who enjoyed the benefits of freedom from daytime contact lens wear. Interestingly, however, most of these patients have been adults. But now, given the compelling scientific evidence and industry support for myopia management and the key role Ortho-K plays in this critical clinical focus, I have redoubled my efforts to grow my pediatric patient base.
Here is my five-step plan for re-launching my Ortho-K services. These actions have already delivered results, with Ortho-K fits up 12 percent in the first six months compared to the same period in 2019.
With updated content and links to patient resources, website development is my primary method of external marketing. Working with EyeCarePro, my web design vendor, I am relieved of what would be a considerable demand on my time, in addition to gaining the creative and technical expertise necessary to build and maintain a topnotch website optimized for parents researching Ortho-K. At less than $1,000 per month, this is an invaluable investment.
The second component of my digital marketing is internal. Twice a year I draft an e-blast to our entire patient base. This e-mail is short and to the point, beginning with the importance of managing myopia and concluding with a call to action (i.e. scheduling a consultation).
Referrals from other eyecare providers and pediatricians comprise roughly 20 percent of my new Ortho-K patient acquisition. Annually, our associate doctors pay a personal visit to a targeted list of potential referrers in our geographic area. If call-ahead appointments are not granted, we “drop in.” If the doctor is unable or unwilling to greet us, we meet briefly with a managing administrator. We provide pre-printed referral pads to each practice and follow-up with a letter of appreciation for their time, concisely recapping the purpose of our visit.
Staff Training and Scripting
This is a pivotal component of my internal marketing. With staff having the initial and greatest number of continuing parent touch points, they are the most influential messengers. Given that all team members play a role, from new patient acquisition to delivering ongoing clinical support to current patients and parents, I coordinate the training of my entire team. The staff educational process includes imparting basic scientific and clinical concepts surrounding Ortho-K, explaining the fitting and follow-up process, lens design and ordering, and detailing fees.
Sample scripting is provided to both administrators and technical staff. For example, when patients call to make an appointment, an administrator might say, “Mrs. Jones, we look forward to seeing you for your exam on September 1. Are there any children you would like us to screen at that time for nearsightedness or worsening vision? Our doctors focus on myopia management.”
Similarly, while our clinical staff is conducting pretesting procedures such as auto-refraction, they will bring up myopia management in a more personal manner, which is geared to the age of the adult patient. In other words, they may reference either children or grandchildren and briefly explain how wearing “devices overnight can help stop the progression of nearsightedness similar to how a child might wear a dental retainer while they sleep to help straighten teeth.”
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Patient Education Brochures
With the assistance of our more artistically inclined administrators, we publish a printed resource in the form of a brochure that describes myopia management in general, with a section devoted to Ortho-K. This pamphlet defines myopia, explains its visual and eye health significance, discusses the risk factors, outlines the process for detection and diagnosis, describes the clinical options for managing the condition and lists digital resources. It also summarizes our in-office fitting and follow-up schedule. These tri-fold brochures cost about $ 0.40 per piece. You can do the same thing in an online-only, or digital, format.
Alternatively, or additionally, the major Ortho-K manufacturers have excellent pre-printed brochures which are a great option for those wishing to save time and money. We display an array of industry-drafted assets in addition to the practice-branded materials in our reception area.
By far, the most influential step of my internal marketing is my chair-side chat or exam room conversation. At a strategic point within the exam, or at the conclusion, I mention to all parents or grandparents the importance of correcting myopia as it progresses and helping to stop the progression. I explain how different our approach is now relative to “the old days” when we just kept increasing prescriptions and did not have the studies to guide us in our clinical approach.
I explain that each child is different and that risk factors are variable. I urge each parent to be proactive by scheduling a consultation appointment so that I can give individualized guidance.
With a nominal monetary and time investment, I am beginning to see positive returns. It’s rewarding to know that we can now make a difference in the lives of children by managing both their visual needs and their progressive myopia with Ortho-K.