By Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD,
and Jessica Licausi, OD, FAAO, FCOVD
May 27, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis and practice shutdown was an anxiety-inducing time for both us and our patients. Here is the messaging, and communication platforms, that made the greatest impact in our ability to stay in touch.
Focusing the Message
Initially our messaging just alerted our patients of our decision to take early precautions and how and why we elected to close the office sooner rather than later. Then, as the official stay-at-home orders were put in place, we moved our messaging more toward support and connection to our patient base.
We see most of our patients on a bi-weekly basis for vision therapy. This garners a different type of doctor/patient relationship and gives us the opportunity to really get to know our patients. Because of this, we knew that many of our patients were struggling during this time with their care being interrupted and being forced to use the very devices that trigger their visual challenges in order to work from home and remain engaged with family and friends.
To offset this, our messaging has been upbeat, positive and light, as well as providing details of office updates, such as the availability of telemedicine appointments.
We are located in Suffolk County, NY, which has been one of the hardest hit areas in the pandemic. Our messaging to our patients now centers on we are going to protect them, what our office protocol will be and how our scheduling will be affected.
The Many Ways to Reach Patients
Click HERE to see an e-mail with tips for patients and their parents.
Click HERE to read Drs. Licausi’s and Zilnicki’s e-mail to patients alerting them of the reopening of the practice.
Click HERE to listen to the podcast “Vision is More than 20/20”
Identifying the Right Platforms for the Messaging
We send a weekly at-home vision therapy exercise e-mail, a monthly e-newsletter (‘The Viewsletter’) and launched a podcast, “Vision is More than 20/20,” to further stay connected.
One of our most popular podcasts has been our “Screen Time & Blue Light” episode. Many people feel that the increased device use and screen time during the pandemic could have a negative effect, and are looking for guidance on how much is too much. This episode highlighted the American Pediatric Association’s screen-time recommendation for kids, and a discussion on the best approach to take to keep children’s eyes safe as they use digital devices.
In a previous episode we connected with Dr. Nick Despoditis, who is a pioneer in myopia management. We discussed the potential negative effects screen time can have on our eyes, as well as the psychological implications. We also discussed the research surrounding blue light and our recommendations for blue-light blocking glasses.
Frequent, Interactive Posts to Social Media
We try to post a few times a week to our practice Instagram and our Facebook accounts. We do a range of posts, from teaching people quick exercises to do to fun visual challenges. We just started a campaign called “No Screen Sundays,” to encourage our patients to get off of their devices one day a week. Our most engaging posts tend to be the ones in which we challenge the audience to find something in the picture or to solve a puzzle.
As optometrists, we are good at being doctors and caring for our patients, but we can’t forget that we also have to run a business, and social media is an important part of running a business in 2020. Setting aside a few minutes a day (or even creating a bunch at one time and slowly scheduling them to post) is by far one of the best things that you can do for your practice. It doesn’t have to be fancy or perfect; as long as your messaging aligns with your values as a practice you can’t go wrong!
Keeping Up Messaging Beyond the Crisis
Our podcast and our social media efforts help to show patients that we are dedicated to our craft, and that we want to spread the word on the importance of a healthy visual system functioning at maximum levels.
Other Artices to Explore
Taking the extra step in creating this content enables our patients to better understand what we do. They can then share that understanding with their family and friends, which builds our network of patients.
Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD, and Jessica
Licausi, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, are co-owners of Twin Forks Optometry and Vision Therapy in Riverhead, NY.
To contact Dr. Zilnicki: DrZilnicki@twinforksoptometry.com.
To contact Dr. Licausi: DrLicausi@twinforksoptometry.com