Meeting News

Patient communication, consideration contribute to personalized service

ST. LOUIS – Clinicians identified as “Best Practices” by CooperVision said personalized service is helping them thrive despite online competition.

These practitioners, who were recognized for delivering care in a visionary and innovative way, participated in a roundtable discussion here at Optometry’s Meeting, where they collaborated over trending topics in the industry.

Innovations

They began by discussing innovations in their practices.

Raj Patel, OD
Raj Patel

“We want to be the best part of our patients’ day,” Raj Patel, OD, said.

His practice identified “friction spots,” which commonly include misunderstanding fees or wait time to be seen, he said.

“We write down the time the patient comes in, and someone at reception keeps track,” he said. “If they’re there 15 minutes, they get a $5 Starbucks card. We work to minimize that.”

Irwin Azman, OD, said they also have a staff member review the next day’s appointments and reschedule if there are too many.

Irwin Azman, OD
Irwin Azman

“We don’t want patients waiting,” he said. “Every patient is offered snacks and drinks, and we try to make sure they leave with one snack.”

Jennifer Branning, OD, said her practice offers snacks to mothers with children, especially for after-school appointments.

“After the exam, kids are offered an ice cream certificate for a shop across the street or a book,” she said. “The high school kids usually choose a book.”

Jennifer Branning, OD
Jennifer Branning

“We reconfigured our whole office structure and got away from the U-shaped waiting room,” she said. “We moved our kids’ frames and have a bench with a bucket for moms. We have charging stations. It’s the hub of the practice. We also have a quieter seating area.”

Azman said he and his partners transitioned from a high-volume practice to concierge.

“Products are secondary; the money-making part is in our services,” he said. “We spend a lot of time with each patient and limit the number of patients we see.”

He said they refer out patients who need routine eye exams and focus on dry eye or difficult contact lens fits.

“When we solve the patient’s problem, we encourage them to go back to their referring optometrist,” Azman said.

Tom Quinn, OD
Tom Quinn

“Keep your eye focused on what’s good for the patient, and that can drive all your decision-making,” Tom Quinn, OD, said.

Elizabeth Muckley, OD
Elizabeth Muckley

Elizabeth Muckley, OD, said, “We aim to provide a patient experience to make them want to keep coming back. We make it personalized.”

She said her practice has extended hours, and a doctor is on-call after hours.

Prescribing vs. selling

The panel discussed how they are competing in today’s online world and avoiding the appearance of selling to the patient.

Ian Whipple , OD, said he focuses on recommending solutions. He rings a doorbell to summon a staff member when he is through with a patient.

“I introduce the patient to the optician and discuss my recommendations with them both,” he said. “I’m doing what’s right for the patient; I’m not selling.”

“If you’re recommending something that benefits you, you’re selling,” Quinn said. “If it benefits the patient, you’re doing a service.”

“Patients choose us because they have a problem to solve, but in order to solve that problem, they have to make a purchase,” Patel said. “Contact lenses, LASIK, cataract surgery, etc. The best thing we can do is educate them.”

Branning said she prescribes from the chair.

“I call the optician in and we create a team, the three of us,” she said.

Branning said she compares a task-oriented lens to steel-toed boots for construction workers.

“It will make their life better and improve their work,” she said.

Eric Hammond, OD
Eric Hammond

“We have this optometrist guilt, where if it costs more money, we feel guilty,” Eric Hammond, OD, added. “Think about what you would give your mom for free – all the best when money is not an option. Don’t assume that money is a problem for that patient. Let them tell you that.”

Quinn said all of the doctors in this practice agree that daily disposable contact lenses are the best option, and they all recommend them to their patients.

“We all speak the same voice,” he said. “We approach it as a team.”

Whipple said his staff put together a package where every patient who purchases monthly lenses also receives a five-pack of daily disposables to try.

Patel said he does this in his practice as well.

Advertising

Hammond investigated how patients heard about the practice, “and 86% was from another patient or family member. Everything else – Facebook, Instagram, social media, billboard, community ads – is not as big of an impact as we thought it would be.”

Shane Foster , OD, said his practice gets no interaction with product information distributed through social media, “but if we put something more personal out, like our staff at a bowling event, it gets more views,” he said.

“Our most-watched video was our Peep-eating contest,” Hammond noted.

Branning said optometrists in smaller towns can gain recognition by participating in community events.

“Our most-liked post was when our local basketball team came in second, and there was a last-second shot where they won the game, and it had nothing to do with eye care,” she said. “It got a million likes and shares.”

“But it repeats your image and maybe reminds them they have to pick up more contacts,” Rob Szeliga, OD, said.

Muckley said her practice posts interviews with doctors and texts the staff singing happy birthday.

“We encourage our staff to volunteer at food banks,” she said. “You have to do philanthropic things. Participate in 4th of July parades and health screenings.”

Advocacy

Judson Briggs, OD, advised practitioners to get involved in state and national associations.

“There will always be threats, people on the other side who will try to change the rules,” he said. “Advocacy is a huge piece of our future.”

“We have laws in most states that allow us to practice pretty full scope optometry,” Ronald G. Seger, OD, FAAO, said. “You can have a medical practice, and reimbursement levels make it worthwhile.”

Jennifer Webb , OD, said young optometrists can get started with advocacy by joining their local society.

“You get to meet so many other doctors, including important doctors in the area, and see how they’re practicing and how you can help change things,” she said.

Muckley stressed the importance of getting to know your legislators.

“Younger people are used to doing everything online, but the face-to-face relationships are important,” she noted. “Not everybody wants to testify, but you can donate to a political action committee or write a letter.”

She said legislators are eager to hear from their constituents.

“Meet your local representative when they’re campaigning,” Hammond said. “You never know what relationship will take you to that next level in the profession. At the very least, pay your dues to your state and national associations.”

“Take that new optometrist to a local meeting and show them the benefits of it,” Foster said. “We need to be an example to the next generation.”

Branning added: “I’m pretty rural, so it’s difficult to be involved at a state level. I see advocacy for a shy person is perhaps advocating for yourself by becoming a fellow, earning your diplomate status and promoting the profession within your community and among other local health care professionals. A lot of times we just fade into the sunset, and that’s not good for the profession. You need to stay at the top of your game.”

“Get a young optometrist involved on the committee level so they can see how the system works,” Quinn said. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO

 

Disclosures: All panel participants are CooperVision Best Practices honorees.

ST. LOUIS – Clinicians identified as “Best Practices” by CooperVision said personalized service is helping them thrive despite online competition.

These practitioners, who were recognized for delivering care in a visionary and innovative way, participated in a roundtable discussion here at Optometry’s Meeting, where they collaborated over trending topics in the industry.

Innovations

They began by discussing innovations in their practices.

Raj Patel, OD
Raj Patel

“We want to be the best part of our patients’ day,” Raj Patel, OD, said.

His practice identified “friction spots,” which commonly include misunderstanding fees or wait time to be seen, he said.

“We write down the time the patient comes in, and someone at reception keeps track,” he said. “If they’re there 15 minutes, they get a $5 Starbucks card. We work to minimize that.”

Irwin Azman, OD, said they also have a staff member review the next day’s appointments and reschedule if there are too many.

Irwin Azman, OD
Irwin Azman

“We don’t want patients waiting,” he said. “Every patient is offered snacks and drinks, and we try to make sure they leave with one snack.”

Jennifer Branning, OD, said her practice offers snacks to mothers with children, especially for after-school appointments.

“After the exam, kids are offered an ice cream certificate for a shop across the street or a book,” she said. “The high school kids usually choose a book.”

Jennifer Branning, OD
Jennifer Branning

“We reconfigured our whole office structure and got away from the U-shaped waiting room,” she said. “We moved our kids’ frames and have a bench with a bucket for moms. We have charging stations. It’s the hub of the practice. We also have a quieter seating area.”

Azman said he and his partners transitioned from a high-volume practice to concierge.

“Products are secondary; the money-making part is in our services,” he said. “We spend a lot of time with each patient and limit the number of patients we see.”

He said they refer out patients who need routine eye exams and focus on dry eye or difficult contact lens fits.

“When we solve the patient’s problem, we encourage them to go back to their referring optometrist,” Azman said.

Tom Quinn, OD
Tom Quinn

“Keep your eye focused on what’s good for the patient, and that can drive all your decision-making,” Tom Quinn, OD, said.

PAGE BREAK
Elizabeth Muckley, OD
Elizabeth Muckley

Elizabeth Muckley, OD, said, “We aim to provide a patient experience to make them want to keep coming back. We make it personalized.”

She said her practice has extended hours, and a doctor is on-call after hours.

Prescribing vs. selling

The panel discussed how they are competing in today’s online world and avoiding the appearance of selling to the patient.

Ian Whipple , OD, said he focuses on recommending solutions. He rings a doorbell to summon a staff member when he is through with a patient.

“I introduce the patient to the optician and discuss my recommendations with them both,” he said. “I’m doing what’s right for the patient; I’m not selling.”

“If you’re recommending something that benefits you, you’re selling,” Quinn said. “If it benefits the patient, you’re doing a service.”

“Patients choose us because they have a problem to solve, but in order to solve that problem, they have to make a purchase,” Patel said. “Contact lenses, LASIK, cataract surgery, etc. The best thing we can do is educate them.”

Branning said she prescribes from the chair.

“I call the optician in and we create a team, the three of us,” she said.

Branning said she compares a task-oriented lens to steel-toed boots for construction workers.

“It will make their life better and improve their work,” she said.

Eric Hammond, OD
Eric Hammond

“We have this optometrist guilt, where if it costs more money, we feel guilty,” Eric Hammond, OD, added. “Think about what you would give your mom for free – all the best when money is not an option. Don’t assume that money is a problem for that patient. Let them tell you that.”

Quinn said all of the doctors in this practice agree that daily disposable contact lenses are the best option, and they all recommend them to their patients.

“We all speak the same voice,” he said. “We approach it as a team.”

Whipple said his staff put together a package where every patient who purchases monthly lenses also receives a five-pack of daily disposables to try.

Patel said he does this in his practice as well.

Advertising

Hammond investigated how patients heard about the practice, “and 86% was from another patient or family member. Everything else – Facebook, Instagram, social media, billboard, community ads – is not as big of an impact as we thought it would be.”

Shane Foster , OD, said his practice gets no interaction with product information distributed through social media, “but if we put something more personal out, like our staff at a bowling event, it gets more views,” he said.

PAGE BREAK

“Our most-watched video was our Peep-eating contest,” Hammond noted.

Branning said optometrists in smaller towns can gain recognition by participating in community events.

“Our most-liked post was when our local basketball team came in second, and there was a last-second shot where they won the game, and it had nothing to do with eye care,” she said. “It got a million likes and shares.”

“But it repeats your image and maybe reminds them they have to pick up more contacts,” Rob Szeliga, OD, said.

Muckley said her practice posts interviews with doctors and texts the staff singing happy birthday.

“We encourage our staff to volunteer at food banks,” she said. “You have to do philanthropic things. Participate in 4th of July parades and health screenings.”

Advocacy

Judson Briggs, OD, advised practitioners to get involved in state and national associations.

“There will always be threats, people on the other side who will try to change the rules,” he said. “Advocacy is a huge piece of our future.”

“We have laws in most states that allow us to practice pretty full scope optometry,” Ronald G. Seger, OD, FAAO, said. “You can have a medical practice, and reimbursement levels make it worthwhile.”

Jennifer Webb , OD, said young optometrists can get started with advocacy by joining their local society.

“You get to meet so many other doctors, including important doctors in the area, and see how they’re practicing and how you can help change things,” she said.

Muckley stressed the importance of getting to know your legislators.

“Younger people are used to doing everything online, but the face-to-face relationships are important,” she noted. “Not everybody wants to testify, but you can donate to a political action committee or write a letter.”

She said legislators are eager to hear from their constituents.

“Meet your local representative when they’re campaigning,” Hammond said. “You never know what relationship will take you to that next level in the profession. At the very least, pay your dues to your state and national associations.”

“Take that new optometrist to a local meeting and show them the benefits of it,” Foster said. “We need to be an example to the next generation.”

Branning added: “I’m pretty rural, so it’s difficult to be involved at a state level. I see advocacy for a shy person is perhaps advocating for yourself by becoming a fellow, earning your diplomate status and promoting the profession within your community and among other local health care professionals. A lot of times we just fade into the sunset, and that’s not good for the profession. You need to stay at the top of your game.”

“Get a young optometrist involved on the committee level so they can see how the system works,” Quinn said. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO

 

Disclosures: All panel participants are CooperVision Best Practices honorees.

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