By Patty Casebolt
Chief Quality Officer
Medical Eye Center
June 24, 2020
When you prescribe eyewear to improve your patients’ lives, your hope is that they will fulfill those prescriptions, and do so in your office. What happens too often in all of our offices, however, is patients are left wondering if they will be able to financially manage what the doctor has prescribed.
As our office has worked over the years to perfect the optical hand-off, we have discovered two great tools that work hand-in-hand to increase the likelihood that our patients acquire the eyewear the doctor feels will most help them: Patient financing via CareCredit and emotional intelligence know-how.
Awareness of Yourself–and Others
Emotional intelligence training begins with helping employees to recognize their own emotions, but doesn’t end there. Once employees learn about their own emotional triggers and susceptibilities, they must take the important step of also being aware of the emotions of those they interact with.
We offer scripting of common sales scenarios with patients, such as scripts to facilitate lifestyle conversations, but we emphasize the importance of going beyond the scripts to see each patient as individuals with individual reactions to the information provided by the optician.
For example, our opticians are trained to take note of the potential emotions behind body language. Rather than mechanically reciting a rehearsed script on the computer glasses, or polarized prescription sunwear, the patient has been prescribed, the optician would pause to take note of the patient’s verbal, and non-verbal, reactions. The optician would note if the patient was vigorously tapping their foot, fidgeting in their chair, or doing other things that could indicate anxiety.
Rather than continuing with the script, the optician might pause and ask: “Do you have any questions I can answer about the prescriptions the doctor has written? You have more than one option, and we can explore as many as you like to ensure we find one that works for you.”
Emphasizing Patient Lifestyle Needs
Like all practices, we often have patients tell us, “I only want what my insurance covers.” Our opticians have been trained to respect that statement, and not to argue. Instead, our approach is to affirm that we understand that desire, and then to ask the patient if they can still review all of their eyewear purchase options with them, so the patient will be able to make their purchase knowing everything that is available to them.
The optician might say: “I see from the doctor’s notes that you spend a lot of time outdoors, and on the water. She has recommended prescription polarized sunglasses. Your insurance would not cover the total cost of this sunwear, but with patient financing with the CareCredit card, this might be an option that may still interest you. Would you be open to reviewing what your estimated monthly payment for these sunglasses could be if you are approved for a CareCredit card? I want to make sure you know all of your options.”
Training Staff to Talk Sensitively About Patient Financing
We never presume to know a patient’s financial situation, and never limit the education we give patients in our optical. We give every patient the full range of the doctor’s prescriptions, with the goal of providing each with all of the eyewear the doctor believes the patient needs to experience the greatest visual performance and comfort.
We have learned the importance of training our staff to have patient financing conversations to create greater opportunities for patients to acquire all of the eyewear they need. So, several years ago, we enlisted help from our CareCredit representative to train opticians to have this conversation.
Through exercises like role-playing, our CareCredit rep taught opticians how to approach patient financing as an option to facilitate purchases of second- and third-pairs of eyewear, in addition to the patient’s primary eyewear. The results of this training were so impressive that in the years that have followed we have seen our multiple-pair sales grow exponentially.
Make a Personal Connection With Each Patient
Whether it’s simply educating a patient about their eyewear prescriptions, or taking it a step further, and letting them know about the option of purchasing through patient financing through a CareCredit card, we take the time to get to know each patient before beginning the sales process.
That means a cordial greeting and showing patients we take a genuine interest in them, asking about how their day is going, and following up on the information about themselves that they share. If they mention in passing that they just got back from vacation, our optician might ask where they went, whether they had a good time and what kinds of activities they enjoy while on vacation.
When you take a sincere interest in each patient, and have been trained to note both your emotions and the patient’s, you create the kind of communication bridges that lead not just to eyewear sales, but to long-term bonds with the patient and their family.
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