Joel Kestenbaum, OD, of Plainview, NY,presents premium lens options during a patient exam.
Dispensing the Best Lenses Begins in the Exam Room
By Mark Wright, OD
When optometrists treat an eye infection, they prescribe a pharmaceutical agent by brand name: “We are going to treat that infection with VIGAMOX®,” the patient is told. Likewise, in the exam room, eye doctors routinely prescribe brand specific contact lenses: “Based on my examination today, and to keep your eyes healthy, I am prescribing NIGHT& DAY contact lenses for you.”
But when optometrists recommend ophthalmic lenses, they often shy away from a strong and specific recommendation for a premium product. “My optician will help you choose the best lens for you,” is a common statement heard.
Laboratory sales consultants who visit a large number of practices will tell you that doctors who prescribe brand specific lenses in the exam room are more successful in both the number and quality of lenses purchased in the practice. When the doctor prescribes brand specific lenses in the exam room, it makes it easier for the optical staff to work with the patient to get the treatment plan accepted.
The unfortunate result when the doctor does not prescribe brand specific lenses in the exam room: The patient is far more likely to walk out of the office with something less than the best possible vision solution. And chances are, you won’t be too happy, either, with your sales of premium lenses. Always keep in mind: Patients judge the quality of the doctor by the way they see through their new lenses. So why would you delegate that responsibility to another person? “These glasses aren’t so hot,” the patient will say. “I’m not real happy with that doctor.” Does it really make sense to prescribe brand specific drugs and contact lenses in the exam room and not to do so with eyewear?
The solution—one that will provide your patient with superior vision and you with a healthier bottom line—is to prescribe from the chair. Make a strong and clear brand specific recommendation to the patient, and have your optician and ancillary staff reinforce that message when the patient moves to the dispensary.
WHY ODS FAIL TO PRESCRIBE FROM THE CHAIR
Problem: Habit:”I don’t do that.”
Solution: Break the habit! Make a choice about the best products—and give your patients the benefit of your expertise.
Problem: Lack of knowledge: Many ODs fail to keep up on lens technology, especially complex technology like wavefront optics and free-form lens generation.
Solution: Get educated! Meet with your lens sales consultants. Be the eye care professional and lead. Work together with your lab consultants and your own optical staff to create your own options menu.
Problem: Deference to opticians: “I don’t deal with materials; that’s why I have an optician.”
Solution: When the doctor prescribes in the exam room, it helps (not hurts) the optician in dealing with patients. Work with your optical staff to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Problem: Explaining lens technology takes too much time.
Solution: If you educate yourself about lens technology and learn to explain things simply, you can shorten the overall time the patient spends in the office. Taking a team approach, the doctor prescribes in the exam room and the optical staff can explain the lens technology in the dispensary. The slight additional time it takes for the doctor to prescribe in the exam room is worth every second when more patients get better care in your office and shortens the overall patient visit by reducing the time needed in the dispensary.
BENEFITS TO PRESCRIBING FROM THE CHAIR
The doctor makes the recommendation. The most powerful voice heard round the office is yours. Your patients will automatically give more credence to the recommendation of their doctor over the words of the staff and the hearsay of their friends and family.
The process of reinforcement works for you. YOU recommend a specific lens brand that you think best. The OPTICIAN repeats the recommendation that you made. The STAFF reinforces that recommendation and corroboration. It’s a seamless progression.
The patient wins. When the doctor recommends the best, and when staff reinforces that recommendation, the patient is far more likely to walk out of the office with premium progressive lenses and reap the benefits that come with that option. “I love the way I see through my new lenses,” the patient says under the best scenario, “I think I have the best eye doctor.”
The practice wins. Experience shows that practices dispense more premium lenses when there is reinforcement and unity of message across the staff. And dispensing more premium lenses makes a rapid and positive difference in your practice’s bottom line.
GOOD TALK / BAD TALK
Of these two possible conversations, which will result in the patient seeing better and your practice being more profitable?
A) “You’re presbyopic, hey, it happens to us all. See the optician, and he’ll fix you up with bifocals. You can ask him about the kind without the lines. There’s a lot of goods ones, and he’ll know what’s what.”
B) “Congratulations on reaching the age of wisdom! Fortunately, we now have amazing new progressive addition lenses that have no visible lines and deliver natural, youthful vision. The best lens for you is (brand name PAL). I’m prescribing (name brand PALs) for you. I wear them myself. Sally, our optician, will explain why (name brand PALs) are the best for you.”
Prescribe brand specific lenses from the chair for the next 100 patients and let us know your experiences. Let’s work together to find the most effective ways to help our patients get better care.