By Gayle Karanges, OD
April 7, 2021
Patients often view doctors, including optometrists, as authority figures. With that status, you have an opportunity to influence patients in their decision to follow your treatment plan and purchase the eyewear you have prescribed. Here is how I use this opportunity in the exam room to make it more likely patients leave our office with all of the products I believe will enhance their lives.
Our approach has led to an eyewear capture rate of 82 percent.
Be Specific in Tying Lifestyle Needs to Prescriptions
After reviewing the results and images of testing, I explain to patients who need a new prescription(s) the reason for that new prescription, and I provide an overview of the optical lens choices available to them. I ask lifestyle questions, so I can fully understand the patient’s visual demands and the best lens choice for those demands. This discussion may also include options for contact lenses.
For example, I discuss brands of progressive lenses, the pros and cons, helping the patient understand the pricing of these lenses, and how it can vary based on the optical lens quality, technology and features. I like to use smartphones as a comparison. I explain that, as with phones, high-tech features will make glasses more expensive. I often draw pictures to explain progressive lens technology or pull an image up on the computer in the exam room to show patients how the optics work.
I ask the patient about their work setup, including whether they use a laptop or desktop, one or more screens, and the kind of lighting in their work space. I also inquire about their hobbies, whether they spend significant time outdoors, and whether sunlight bothers them when driving. In addition, I want to know if they liked the last pair of glasses they purchased, so I know what we might need to do differently this time.
I keep notes in my EHR system about each optical recommendation to refer to during the patient’s next exam. This type of sincere interest in each patient builds an incredible amount of trust over time and can set you apart from other providers. This old saying always applies: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”
Thoroughly Address Patient Questions, Educate & Clear Up Misconceptions
A common question patients ask is: “Will wearing a prescription, or changing my prescription, make my eyes worse?” I explain how their new prescription will not make their eyes worse, and how important good vision is to facilitate better sensory processing in their brain: “We need good vision throughout our life for our best cognitive performance.”
I like to use phrases such as “I recommend” and “You will love this” Or: “This is what will be the best for you.” I want to come across to the patient as confident and expert in my knowledge. It is not in the best interest of the patient to leave decision-making up to them. We are the experts and it’s our job to advise patients on what is best.
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Ask Patients Whether They Intend to Purchase their Eyewear Today
Rather than assume, I ask patients if they plan to purchase their glasses today. Being upfront with that conversation allows me to advise them what to consider if they wish to shop around. They might say, “I get my glasses at XYZ optical store.” My response would be: “Our eyecare associates are very knowledgeable and will review your insurance and go over the products you need, along with pricing, so you can make a fair comparison when shopping.”
Virtually all patients appreciate this type of direct conversation, and it can encourage a patient to think twice before reflexively walking with their prescription.
Do Your Best to Catch Additional Questions Before Patients Leave & Make It Easy for Them to Reach You
My team and I always ask the patient if they have any questions before they leave. We also let them know they have the ability to contact us through our Facebook business page, Google business page, by phone or e-mail when needed. They are also sent a survey to fill out to give us feedback on how well we served them. I am happy to report that our Net Promoter Score consistently ranks in the 90s.