By Nicholas Despotidis, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, FIAO
June 5, 2019
This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from the newly posted ROB Special Report “Opportunities & Business Strategies in Myopia Management.” CLICK HERE to download the full report, which is sponsored by Alcon, CareCredit and Essilor.
Achieving success in myopia management requires a strategy. The following six actions are integral to building a myopia management specialty.
I have seen many of my colleagues strive for success but come up three feet short of hitting gold. Success takes time and perseverance.
I took a personal interest in Ortho-K when my sons became myopic, and I was able to slow the progression of their myopia. That was back in 1998, and it took the following 10 years for it to pick up steam in our practice.
But offering this service to patients provides a great deal of satisfaction professionally. Our practice has worked with consulting groups The Power PracticeTM and the EMyth, based on the book of the same name. In the process, we learned that striving for higher gross/more patients is not the answer to success.
We now work three days a week with a total team effort. We focus on medical optometry, Vision Therapy (VT) and myopia management.
KNOW WHAT MYOPIA MANAGEMENT IS AND IS NOT
Begin by defining myopia control. It is not the same as Ortho-K. Myopia management is not just a therapy with atropine nor soft multifocal contact lenses.
Myopia control is understanding the demographic that is interested in slowing the progression of myopia. We identify the parent interested in this and work from there.
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It is helpful to compare myopia control with the obesity epidemic. We realize that we’re heavier than in years past, but that realization has not led to action in the U.S. Likewise, just because there is an epidemic of myopia does not mean parents will embrace methods to slow its progression. In my experience, only a select demographic views myopia as a disease and is interested in its containment. That’s the demographic we focus on.
What’s required is that we allocate adequate time and resources to succeeding with myopia control. If you squeeze specialty care patients into a busy schedule you will fail at it. Take the time to engage patients; they will refer friends and family.
MARKETING WORKS, ADVERTISING DOESN’T
Traditional advertising does not work with myopia control. Advertising presents a simple call-to-action and a sale; with myopia management the task of fully educating a patient in what to expect of treatment and outcome is too extensive to provide briefly. Our marketing of myopia management is multi-stepped: awareness, then consideration, which leads to securing confidence and commitment to treatment.
This, in turn, creates patient loyalty and advocacy that provides more patients. The right approach requires an awareness of current patients. You need to develop loyalty and word of mouth. In the digital world, Apple has done this, developing loyalty that leads to product advocacy.
CREATE RAVING FANS
Internal marketing is highly effective, and this includes marketing in the exam chair. Know the demographic of your patients and address their stress.
To that end, you need raving fans, not just happy patients. Show you care by taking time to answer the many questions that parents have concerning myopia management. This often is a new option for parents.
To your patients, show how you are different and special. A big part of that is allocating adequate time and resources. You will succeed when you take time to engage patients, and they will refer friends and family members.
KNOW YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC
Generally speaking, overachievers are interested in myopia control. Recognize nervous parents who are concerned about their children. There also are guilty parents, who view myopia as a disease and haven’t done enough to help their children.
Knowing the demographic to “market” to is critical to success. In myopia management, it’s about wowing current patients who will refer others. However, in specialties like VT, referrals often come from occupational therapists, post-concussion doctors, coaches and teachers–but less frequently from patients.
In a low-vision sub-specialty, retinal specialists are normally our referral sources. And in specialty contact lenses, like scleral lenses, it’s corneal specialists who generally refer to us.
As we learned in building a successful Ortho-K practice, all types of patients are interested, so know who you are marketing to. Another lesson from VT: It’s not just about the patient; it also involves the circle of support, which includes occupational therapists, post-concussion
doctors, coaches, teachers, etc. Contrary to other specialties (low vision, rehabilitative vision) where referrals come from fellow professionals, referrals for Ortho-K come from patients and parents who have been wowed with their own Ortho-K experience.
PROVIDE CRITICAL NON-ESSENTIALS IN YOUR OFFICE
Consistency, consistency, consistency is the key to providing outstanding patient care. As we are taught, there are essential points of care in an eyecare exam, such as tonometry, ophthalmoscopy and visual fields. However, there are other steps that are considered non-essential yet are critical to good clinical care. These include:
• Responding to parents who e-mail or text the office
• Placing urgency in your response
• Spending time with patients during their visit
• Following-up after every visit
• Assigning dedicated staff to patients
• Thanking parents following each visit
Choosing the right patient populations, and providing a high level of care, will keep your raving myopia control fans raving.
Nicholas Despotidis, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, FIAO, is a partner with EyecareProfessionalsPC in Hamilton Township, N.J.