More work is needed to educate parents of the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams for children, according to The Vision Council 2014 Parent Child Vision Care Report. Slightly more than 35.3 percent of parents with children living at home reported that their children received an eye exam within the past 12 months, with15.0 percent reporting that one of their children had an exam in the past six months alone.
Almost one-third of all parents with children living at home report that their child(ren) has never received an eye exam. Parents with only one child living at home, and parents with a child under the age of 10 living at home, were more likely than other parents to never have taken any of their children to get their eyes examined.
Here are the top four ways to facilitate the scheduling of children for eye exams. You need to make sure your office has systems in place to maximize the effectiveness of each of these four ways.
Ask mom while she is in the office
Either your staff or the doctor should ask every mother in the office if there are children in the family who have not had an eye exam within the last year. This is true whether or not mom is in the office with a child being examined. Moms make the health care decisions for most families and, therefore, are the ideal people to talk to about scheduling children for examinations.
Current patients referring patients
When a child has been helped by your practice, the parents talk to other parents. Since the number one source of new patients to every office is word-of-mouth, it is to your advantage to give the parents of the helped child incentives and resources to spread the good word.
Because school screenings are an important source of new exams for children, you need to support the local school nurses. Talk to them one-on-one asking how you can help. You can put together a kit of supplies to make their job easier. The kit can include eyeglasses repair tools (frames screwdriver and a vial of common screws), contact lens solutions, contact lens cases, whatever is helpful, and requested by the school nurse.
With over 60 percent of patients going online before an eye exam, it’s time to review your online messaging. If you were a parent looking for an eye examination for your child, would your office be your first choice? If not, then now is the time to fix this. Ask parents coming through the office what is important to them in choosing an eye doctor. Use this information to create a digital presence that has parents choosing you over other eye doctors. Managing your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential so that your web page comes up on the first page of eye doctor search listings.
The problem is not insurance coverage. Children with insurance coverage are not having examinations today. A low percentage of children with vision insurance coverage like VSP are getting eye examinations because parents are not scheduling them. An even lower percentage of children with coverage such as Medicaid are getting eye examinations. The problem is getting the parents to schedule the examination. This is why it is essential for you to use the four approaches given above to get children the help they deserve.