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This Simple Change Can Make Your Eyecare Business Way More Efficient

It seems like a small step, but it can have a big impact.

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IF I TOLD YOU that I had one easy protocol you can incorporate in your practice that can save you time, enhance your relationship with patients and grow your business, you’d do it, right?

Well, I do, and here it is: Encourage (well, instruct) patients to fill in online patient information, history and registration forms before their visit.

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Yup. It seems like a small step, but this small act can have a big impact on your practice. In fact, if you don’t have this protocol in place you are missing out on precious opportunities for your practice.

Instructing a patient, especially a new patient, to fill out these forms on your website before coming in for an appointment achieves three main objectives:

Increasing Office Efficiency

This step makes life easier for the doctor and the practice and streamlines the patient’s visit.

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The five to 10 minutes that it takes the patient to fill in these forms by hand can cause delays in the patient flow of the practice. When pre-filled online, the information is automatically inputted into the patient’s record (saving the administrative staff the time of entering by hand) and the file can be ready for the patient as soon as they walk in the door. This is a win-win. It saves time for the practice, keeps the schedule running on time and saves the patient time waiting. Your patients will appreciate this convenience and the modern services you provide.

Familiarizing Patients with the Doctor’s Website

Filling in your online forms forces a patient to visit your site, even if the patient calls in to schedule the appointment. Why is this important?

First of all, it gives the patient more of a chance to familiarize with the practice, read about the doctor, his services and specialties, and find out about other options available, such as specialty eyewear, dry eye treatments and vision therapy. This will make the practice more impressive (especially to the new patient) and has the potential to boost sales because it may lead to the patient inquiring about additional products or services of interest.

Secondly, it increases patient retention and loyalty. In the digital age, familiarity with your website will not only ingrain your practice into memory, but will likely help you come up higher on their next Google search. (Your site is also likely stored in the cache or user search history of the device.) This means quicker and easier mental retrieval and web retrieval of your practice website and information.

The more they learn about your practice, the more your patients will feel connected to your practice, and the more likely they will be to think of you for their eyecare needs in the future.

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Lastly, once patients have visited your site, they are more likely to make referrals. They might leave a positive review on your site, Facebook page or a local business directory, or send a link to a friend seeking eyecare. Once they have connected with you online, the potential network becomes endless.

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Increasing Traffic and Time on Site

These are important factors for Google and for increasing your search ranking to help more new patients find your practice. This is particularly on point for practices that are struggling to increase traffic. Encourage patients to fill in your online forms and not only will they spend more time on your site, but so will others who will be able to find it easier.

Remember, your website is your 24-hour business card, and so much more. When your patients are visiting your website, it is just like a virtual visit to your office, where they can get to know you and build trust for a future of eyecare together.

Zvi Pardes is the Head of content marketing at EyeCarePro, which provides ECPs with educational content that helps them advance their practices through technology, management strategies and digital marketing. EyeCarePro serves both industry and practices and is the only company of its kind solely focused on the optometric space. Contact him at zvi@eyecarepro.net.

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Six Ways to Make Your Patient Experience Memorable

It’s all about hitting them in the feels.

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WHEN YOU THINK OF memorable experiences you tend to remember the times that you felt something. Creating a memorable patient experience is no different! Here are some ways to be memorable:

Active Listening

Pay attention to the patient from the moment they call for an appointment. Train your staff to take notes during this initial touch point and ask questions to understand what type of experience they are seeking. Once the patient is in your exam chair, you’ll have a “blueprint” of their expectations and can address the pain points that brought them in. Face them when they are talking and maintain eye contact.

Doctor Driven Dispensing

Whether you’re an owner or employee, doctor driven dispensing creates a memorable experience and drives loyalty through patient education of products. The clinical findings from the examination should be aligned with all the products you recommend and prescribe. You are the authoritative voice and experienced professional of the office; educate patients on why you are recommending a product and how it’s different from online retailers.

Storytelling

Storytelling can be an influential connector to your patients because it’s an emotional driver and memorable moments are created by emotions. It makes the patient experience a human experience. Be authentic.
Letting them know that your family member has the same issues with progressive lenses and what specific product you prescribed to solve it creates more value for your office than competing on price.

Market Memories

Online retailers like Warby Parker will donate a pair of glasses. It creates a memorable experience for the patient because they know that their purchase will help others. Whether it’s a local charity event or mission trip, your office can do the same. Use your email database and social media platforms to educate your patients about your involvement in the community.

Follow Up

The patient experience does not end with the exam. Making a follow up call to a patient can make a lasting impression and has more impact than you think in developing the critical doctor/patient relationship. Set reminders in your EMR system to have your staff follow up one week, one month or six months on progressive adaptation or overall satisfaction with service or products. Document personal information — job information, children’s names, etc. — in their chart and mention it in your next exam.

Be Unique

Your unique style makes you memorable. Humor is a memorable factor. Don’t be afraid to have a different approach to patient care; humor will make you likeable and approachable to new patients. You want patients to feel comfortable; being funny is one way to do it. Your personality, humor, empathy, and attention to detail are your signature to the world.
It speaks volumes; use it to create a memorable experience that no one can mimic because your “you” is unique.

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John Marvin

Introducing Amazon Eyecare and Eyewear

Relax, it’s not happening… yet. But there is a lot we could learn from their use of behavioral data.

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IN MY EXPERIENCE, the most frequent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that eye doctors use are: 1) How much is today’s deposit? And 2) How many appointments are on the books for tomorrow?

It may seem simplistic, but many people reading this article will agree, it’s a ritual many eye doctors go through at the end of every work day. It’s a good start, but far from enough to perform with a competitive edge.

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We live in a marketplace driven by data. In our industry, there are courses at major conferences to teach ECPs the KPIs they should measure and manage and how often. Our practice management software can produce countless reports. It can be overwhelming, not to mention time consuming, to keep up with all of the information being produced.

But in eyecare and eyewear’s ever-changing environment, the effective use of data will be the difference between success and irrelevance. We must move from transactional data to behavioral data.

For decades, we’ve used transactional data —measuring what happened in the past — instead of using that data to tell us what we need to do to increase sales and service delivery tomorrow. But with a profession populated in large measure with small independent business people, it is difficult to build, much less afford the type of data systems needed to compete in today’s marketplace.

At a conference I recently attended, the question was posed, “What if you woke this morning to read that Amazon had announced they are going to invest big in the delivery of eyecare services and eyewear before the end of 2019, what would you do?” It is a very good, and not wholly unreasonable, question.

I think the reason people fear Amazon’s entry into our profession is that we know how good they are at competing. We know how much we like using them and how intimidating they are to anyone who has to compete with them … just ask Walmart.

Amazon’s real power is their use of both transactional and behavioral data. Have you ever purchased something from Amazon and for the next two weeks, everywhere you go on the web there are ads associated with what you just purchased? They studied purchasing behaviors and know that a majority of people who buy X will also buy Y if given the opportunity. They are using historical data to predict future purchasing.

With an online analytic program for the independent ECP, we could begin to understand what happened in the past and think about how to use that to impact the future. For example, if you knew a significant percentage of patients who purchased two or four boxes of contact lenses at exam purchased additional boxes within six months, then you could communicate with those patients right when they are most likely to repurchase.

However, this requires new capabilities in data collection, new tools and software for analyzing this information, and most importantly, a new way of thinking about the information being created in our businesses.

The future is not coming, it is here and those who are willing to think differently today will be the ones who will be relevant tomorrow.

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Robert Bell

Don’t Just Ask Questions, Actually Listen to the Answers

Sounds simple, but many don’t do it when trying to sell eyewear.

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A LONG TIME AGO, I overheard a conversation between two people:

Person 1: “Ugh, I just wish there was a magic potion you could drink to lose weight!”

Person 2: “There is. It’s called water.”

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Makes me laugh, every time, because of its sheer simplicity. Anytime I put myself on a weight loss plan, drinking lots of water a day is on the regimen. Simple, right? Well, yes and no. The not so simple part is actually doing it. To drink all that water per day (… hold on, I gotta go refill my water bottle…) isn’t easy. It is, however, very doable.

Well, it’s the same thing with selling.

There isn’t a magic potion for selling (trust me, I’ve drunk a lot of red wine just to be sure) but there is a magic wand. Know what it is? Listening. I mean really listening! The best salespeople I ever meet, in any industry, are always, hands-down, the best listeners. Simple, right? Well, yes and no. The hard part is doing it. I’ll share with you how to make that easier.

One of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received was from one of my first clients, Dr. Robert Ratzlaff of RealEyes in Taos, NM. About a month after his EyeCoach training, he told me I had made him a better doctor. Hmm, strange I thought. I’m not a doctor nor did I attend optometry school.

“Doctor, how the hell did I do that?”

“By making me a better listener.”

“Ah, and how did I make you a better listener?”

“By teaching me to ask better questions. It forces me to listen to the answers.”

It forces me to listen to the answers.

If you’ve read my sales columns before, you know I’m all about the questions. The more questions, the better. The questions I ask have a “share with me” or a “tell me” element to them. Meaning, with each question I ask, I could have “Tell me” or “Share with me” as a preface. It implies we’re on the same team. It says, “Look, I’m not trying to persuade you, I’m trying to find out exactly how I can help you.”

“Tell me… when you’re reviewing your children’s homework, do you notice you’re moving the paper further away to read it?”

“Share with me… what’s happening with your eyes and vision when you’re at your daughter’s soccer games in the late afternoon? Just how harsh is that sun?”

“Tell me… how often is the baby grabbing the glasses off your face?”

“Share with me… how often are you rubbing your eyes and exactly what part of the day do you start to feel most fatigued?”

Wait for the answers. Don’t interrupt them, ever! When they’re done responding, ask another question until you have all the information you require to help them purchase all the eyewear they need.

I tend to nod my head up and down while they’re responding. Why? For me, it actually feels good and reminds me that I’m an active participant in this conversation. For them, it shows them I’m being an active listener and I care about what they’re talking about.

Listening. What a concept!

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