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Mark Hinton

Are You Effectively Connecting with Patients Before, During and After Their Office Visit?

It is paramount to a satisfactory customer experience, so here are a few ideas to improve your communication.

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WITH SO MUCH competition for your patients, the ways you connect and reconnect differentiate you and your business from others. What makes your office a destination location — one in which your patient would pass up a competitor closer to their own home? After all, convenience is a huge factor for humans in their busy daily whirlwind, right?

Maybe you’ve had this happen in your office: An established patient returns for their yearly exam and when asked about their vision over the last year, they say: “I’ve had these glasses since my last exam with you and I’ve never been able to see very well through them.” Could you have reached out to the patients 48 hours after dispense to determine patient satisfaction then, solving and avoiding the negative outcome?

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Connecting with, communicating with, and providing for our patients before, during, and after their office visit is paramount to a satisfactory customer experience. It also allows us to gain information on how we can improve or maintain a high-level service.

Following the office visit, patient surveys are routine in most optometry businesses. Survey Monkey is popular, and many patient communication portals also provide survey options to connect with patients. But, I’ve noticed that many offices don’t even routinely read the patient surveys! Let alone periodically examine them to determine if the questions asked continue to provide valuable information to improve upon visits. Do you? Are your questions the very best questions you could ask? Are they drafted in a way that continues to makes the patient understand just how much you truly care?

Recently, we discovered Ocular Innovations, a marketing platform company with deep roots in eyecare. They have developed a series of patient education modules, including video communication, using QR Code recognition, so patients have personalized information pertinent to their prescribed need on their smart phone or tablet immediately following their office visit. Patients respond very well to “the why” … especially when the why is focused on them. We’re ALL self-interested. Communication like this clearly expresses what the patient stands to gain from what’s prescribed and what they may lose when they don’t accept the prescribed advice.

One OD client of mine pre-writes hand-written thank you notes of appreciation and completes them directly following the patient exam, ready to be mailed. This has proven to be a significant source of patient appreciation and referral.
In another example, I observed opportunities to improve time efficiencies in several offices where patients couldn’t recall what contacts they were wearing during the exam, or left before purchasing eyewear because they ran out of time.

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These are time sucks. So, we designed a list of bullets with the headline: “What to bring with you to make your visit efficient and effective for you,” emailed it to patients, and asked them to read it before coming to their exam. This has most definitely improved outcomes in the office.

Is it time to revisit your current system and processes of communicating and connecting with your patients before, during and after their office visit?

Mark Hinton is a practice owner, as well as CEO and president of eYeFacilitate, a private practice consultancy. A sought-after ABO/COPE approved practice management expert, with eYeFacilitate he helps practices drive optical efficiencies, maximize managed care revenue and profit, improve capture, and increase revenue through simple systems with a focused process. Email him at [email protected]

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