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Mark Hinton

Stop Selling and Start Filling Sunwear Prescriptions

A little sun sense can go a long way, here’s how…

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IF YOU’D LIKE to help patients, include sunglasses. It requires a system and starts before they come to the office … What do you tell them they need to bring to their exam?

There are many things they need to bring to the exam, but for sure, patients need to know, in advance, to bring their most current eyeglasses, sunglasses, computer/tablet glasses, and other eyeglasses that make their day more productive.

The reception and pre-exam techs take inventory for the doctor of what the patient currently wears.

Next, to help patients include and purchase sunglasses, the doctor must actually prescribe sunglasses to reduce the risk of future (or further) sun damage. The pre-exam assistant, or doctor, must ask the simple question: “What do you enjoy doing when you’re outdoors?” and save the patient’s answer until it’s time to review the retinal screening images, at which time, the doctor says: “Pat, your eyes show no signs of sun damage today [or they do]; macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness as we age and I don’t want that for you, so I’ll prescribe the sun lenses that you and I can feel confident will filter out all toxic wavelengths of sun. That way when you see me this same time next year your eyes don’t show [further] signs of sun damage; does this sound like a simple plan to keep your eyes healthy in the sun?” This dialogue holds to reason and requests an agreement with the patient; it’s also very caring and not “salesy.”

At the handoff, the doctor (or scribe) will introduce the optical expert and have a three-way conversation, including prescribing the sunglasses, and a WHY: “Pat, this is our optical expert and she is going to be sure your new sunglass lenses reduce the risk of sun damage,” while passing the patient to the optician.

In the optical, the optician simply mimics the doctor’s orders, saying: “Pat, when you were in the exam with Dr. Wise today, she prescribed lenses to be sure we do everything possible to reduce your risk of future [additional] sun damage, because it leads to irreversible vision loss with time. So, I will be sure your new sunglass lenses filter out all the toxic wavelengths of sun to reduce your risk. Try this frame on and let’s see if we agree it could be ideal to safeguard your entire eyes from sun.” Lead, don’t ask permission.

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You’ll note there is no salesy talk; the doctor prescribed it, and the optical expert simply repeats the order and fills it. It certainly should never be said in optical, “So Pat, did you want to look at some sunglasses while you’re here today?” And not: “If you get your glasses with all the bells and whistles, you get a huge discount off your sunglasses.” These disconnect from the exam process and more readily lead the patient to opt-out because they are centered on money and not patient outcome.

This way, the doctor shows a valid retinal image, prescribes with why it will benefit the patient, includes stats (AMD is the leading cause of vision loss as we age….), hands off to the optical expert with assurance, and the optical expert repeats the doctor dialogue and fills the sun Rx… no sales required.

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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