Doctor Patient Relations

Know Your Patient’s FORDs to Learn What Motivates Patient Purchases

By Jason Schmit, OD

Apply the FORD method and ask about Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams. The answers to your questions reveal the emotional reasons behind patient visits and eyewear purchases.

When patients come into your office to purchase a pair of eyeglasses or to have a consultation for a procedure like LASIK, they usually don’t tell you their true motivations. Think about how you feel when you walk into a store and a salesperson asks if he can help you. How often do you say, “Thanks, but I’m just browsing”? Often, you know why you’re there, but you prefer to keep it to yourself. It is no different with your patients. If you can elicit the true motivation for the patient’s visit, you can better ensure you meet their need. You also can maximize opportunities to provide the patient with your practice’s products and services.

My company, Lasik Plus, specializes in preparing patients for and delivering LASIK corrective surgery. We worked with the Sandler Sales Institute to develop strategies for better understanding our patient’s motivations. I learned the following FORDs system of eliciting patient motivations from a talk I heard given by The DiJulius Group.

Get to Know Your Patient’s FORDs

Don’t limit conversation between doctor and patient to optometric topics like which contact lens or eyeglasses prescription they prefer. Carve out at least a few minutes at the beginning or the end of every examto ask patientsquestions that illuminate who they are. The answers to thesequestionsprovidea big picture on their motivations, which comes in handy during future conversations about specific optometric needs. The following are the subjects to ask about.

Family

If your patient is a mother with an expanding family, you might bring up how hormones during pregnancy affect eyes, sometimes causing dry eye. Or you might highlight the importance of bringing children in for their first eye examination as infants rather than waiting until they are about to enter elementary school.

Occupation

What if the patient is an air traffic controller looking at minute targets on a computer screen all day? Consider how your eyecare recommendations will differ for that person versus a person who is a ski instructor or a gym teacher. You would talk to the air traffic controller about computer vision syndrome and ophthalmic lenses that mitigate that form of optical distress. In contrast,you would talk to the ski instructor about polarized prescription sunwear. Further, you would talk to the gym teacher about safety glasses or impact resistant lenses and contact lenses.

Recreation

Let’s say your patient is a bird watcher.You discover during the examination that she is slightly myopic. She is resistant to do anything about it because she can drive and do all her other everyday activities fine as is. A savvy doctor would remember or see in his notes that she is an avid bird watcher and point out how much better she will be able to glimpse the spotted owl with a pair of eyeglasses, especially if those eyeglasses take the form of prescription sunwear with lenses tinted to make it easier for her to see the birds.

Dream

Imagine that your patient tells you he has always wanted to start a woodworking hobby, and he has been resistant to getting his cataracts taken care of. You could point out that if he has the procedure there is a good chance he will be able to see nearly as well as he did years before–near and far–since it is now possible to place a multifocal lens implant in the eye. An astute doctor would then discuss with him how having clear vision that is crisp both near and far will help him with his woodworking creations.

By asking patients questions about what matters to them–family, occupation,recreation, dreams–youilluminate the emotional reasons behind their office visits. Importantly,thishelps youtoprescribeproducts and provide services that will improve their lives.

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Jason Schmit, OD, is VP of Optometric Affairs and Strategic Initiatives for LCA-Vision/Lasik Plus and Visium Eye Institute. Dr. Schmit previously practiced optometry for 14 years. To contact him: jschmit@lca.com

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