Listen to your patients

Listening to your patients’ visual needs can generate high revenue for your practice. Are you just prescribing eyeglasses or are you prescribing “lifestyle solution” glasses and contact lenses? 

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Selling glasses and contacts starts with the doctor. The doctor must be able to link the importance of each type of eyewear or contacts with the patient’s personal needs. 

Ask about hobbies, work, driving at night and during the day, and daily routines. These are the sorts of questions that patients expect from their doctor and they help set the stage for addressing all of their needs.

Let cataract patients know that AR coating helps with night driving. Inform patients that polarized sunglasses are the best for cutting glare while driving and show them the difference. Let patients know it’s important to protect their eyes from the sun. It’s as easy as saying, “You have a family history of ARMD. Wearing sunglasses is one way to reduce your chances of acquiring it.” 

In regard to mono vision contact lens patients, they usually have a lot of glare while driving at night or less clear distance vision. A lot of ODs tell patients to use +1.00 readers for small print, but what about balancing out the reading eye with distance glasses for driving at night? This is the responsibility of the doctor; it makes the optician’s job easier but also provides your patient with the best possible vision. 

For contact lens wearers, are you prescribing daily lenses in addition to their year supply? Some factors to consider sharing: 

1 If the lens wearer has seasonal allergies, tell them daily contact lenses work best at this time of year to relieve red, watery, itchy eyes. 

 

2 For patients planning a vacation, dailies provide the most convenience because they don’t have to worry about packing cleaning products or losing a lens.

3 For eyeglass wearers who use contacts on weekends or for hobbies, you definitely want to get into dailies, as there is less chance of contact lens over-wear and you’ll probably sell more when they run out.

If, as an independent doctor, asking these things makes you uncomfortable, a questionnaire might be an option. Sample question: “Would you be interested in colored contacts in addition to your current contact lens options?” Simple as that. 

Even in a corporate setting, doctor-driven dispensing is important. Though the doctor is not seeing the profits from the optical sales, it still grows your own business because patients that buy from the optical are more likely to return. Patients value your expertise and opinion, and become loyal to you. If you ever decide to leave, they will follow you. 

Doctor-driven dispensing also yields valuable data. If a patient spends more than the average, you want this data for your exit strategy; if you leave, you want them purchasing products at your new office. A corporate setting lets you build the communication and other skills needed to practice doctor-driven dispensing. 

Dr. Maria Sampalis is the owner of Sampalis Eyecare in Warwick, RI. She is a practice management consultant, the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook and founder of corporateoptometrycareers.com and corporateoptometry.com, as well as consulting for the FDA. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


This article originally appeared in the June 2017 edition of INVISION.

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