How Many of Your Patients Know What Digital Eye Fatigue Is?

You have some digital eye fatigue syndrome education to deliver to patients. 72% of patients are not even familiar with the term “digital eye fatigue,” according to The Vision Council’s VisionWatch Digital Eye Fatigue Syndrome report. Those patients with children will also need an education on the impact of the condition on their children’s eyes, as 37% of patients with children say they are not concerned about it. Interest in digital eye fatigue syndrome in children, however, may be growing. 47% say they are somewhat concerned about the condition affecting their children and 16% say they are very concerned.

1)  Review your verbal communication to patients. Record and listen to your case presentation. Make sure you are not talking over the heads of your patients. The more complex your sentences and the more syllables in your words, the less likely patients are to understand what you are trying to communicate. 2) Review all written communications from your practice to patients. Check your web site, your treatment protocol handouts, your recall communications; make sure everything is built to communicate in a clear an effective manner. Simplify.

Now, does it really surprise you that 72% of patients are not familiar with the term “digital eye fatigue syndrome?”  Wouldn’t this be better communicated to patients as: “Do your eyes get tired when you spend time reading on your tablet or phone?”

The Majority of Indepedent ECPs Participate in Charities, According to a New Transitions Optical Study

 

More than 70 percent of independent eyecare practices are actively participating in charitable activities, according to research released through the Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund. However, the survey also reveals that there are barriers to increasing the amount of outreach being done, as well as opportunities to improve how programs are utilized and communicated.

“As an industry that provides such a valuable public service, we have the ability to really make an impact on people’s lives with our outreach efforts,” says Mary O’Hara, regional giving officer and associate marketing manager, trade communications, Transitions Optical, Inc. “Whether it’s providing free vision services, educating in the community or participating in larger optical industry charity events, there are plenty of ways for interested eyecare professionals to help.”

Education and Patient Communications: Missed Opportunities
The majority of the survey respondents (60 percent) provide eyewear to patients through their charitable efforts. The second most common service provided is eye exams (55 percent), followed by vision screenings (41 percent). However, only 25 percent of those who are participating in charitable outreach reported that they provide education as part of their programs.

“Every interaction with a patient provides an opportunity to educate on the importance of protecting vision,” says O’Hara. “Especially during vision screenings, which result in a historically low rate of follow-up care.”

Another area that was identified in the survey as not reaching its potential is patient communications. A study in 2010 found that 86 percent of consumers believe it’s important that companies stand for something other than profitability. Yet only 46 of the practices who participated in the survey are talking about their charitable endeavors to patients. In-office display materials and direct patient communications (newsletters, social media, etc.) were also revealed as being underutilized for this purpose.

Charitable Outreach Challenges
According to the research, respondents who are currently participating in charitable outreach programs are targeting underprivileged populations (58 percent), general populations (50 percent), kids (43 percent), national/regional vision charities (32 percent), blind/low-vision populations (23 percent), seniors (16 percent) and multicultural groups (11 percent). While the survey indicates that the majority of practices are engaged in some level of charitable outreach, respondents revealed some challenges.

Primary reasons why eyecare practices are not doing more non-profit work are lack of time (47 percent) and budget (42 percent). In fact, 30 percent said that they would increase the amount of charitable work they participate in if they could receive additional funding. Additional volunteer support (17 percent), education materials (17 percent) and interest from audiences they wish to support (11 percent) would also encourage more interest.

How the Healthy Sight for Life Fund Can Help
The Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund is a resource for industry professionals who are looking to enhance, expand or initiate a charitable program in their practices. Since 2008, the Fund has provided educational resources and financial support to optical industry professionals who are aligned with its mission of helping preserve healthy sight for a lifetime. Grants exceeding $1 million have been awarded for efforts including school vision screenings, public awareness campaigns, outreach through sports and recreation activities, low- or no-cost treatment for people with eye disease and programs to provide comprehensive vision care, vision wear and education to those in need.

While much of the work of the fund is done in partnership with non-profit organizations in the U.S., Canada and globally, a portion of the available grants are reserved for eyecare practices and laboratories that have charitable programs. To apply for a grant, professionals should submit a request form, located under the Healthy Sight Grants tab of www.healthysightforlife.org.

 

Tap Opportunity: Daily Replacement Lenses for Astigmatic Patients

Advances in daily replacement toric lenses allow you to improve the vision of contact lens wearers with even small amounts of astigmatism.

Doctors and more and more patients know daily replacement contact lenses are the best choice for comfort and eye health. Until recently this option was not available to patients with an astigmatism who required toric lenses. That is no longer the case.  

A vast majority of patients have at least a small amount of astigmatism. Clinically significant astigmatism starting at about -0.75 DC affects about 35% of patients. The only barrier to tapping this market is misconception. Many patients with astigmatism had negative past experiences with an eyecare provider who told them they could not wear contact lenses or they would be more difficult to fit in contact lenses due to their astigmatism. With today’s technology, there are very few astigmatic patients who can’t fit into contact lenses.  

Maybe Even More Profitable Than Other CL Wearers

A study about the value of contact lens wearers by Mark Ritson, PhD, of London Business School, shows that contact lens wearers are 4:1 more profitable to an optometric practice than spectacle-only wearers over time. If it was a closer margin, the results could be questioned, but this creates such a large, overwhelming reason to fit all patients in contact lenses.

In addition, daily replacement wearers are significantly more compliant than two-week and one-month wearers. It is a win-win!  Patients love the convenience of daily replacement and the practice is more profitable.

A comprehensive business analysis of the different modalities and which patients are more profitable would be helpful to us all. The assumption would be that astigmatic patients are more likely to purchase contact lenses from their eyecare professional because their prescription is more specialized. We should each take time to analyze the business performance of the different modalities of contact lenses that we prescribe and look for trends over time to aid our financial and inventory planning.

Greater Loyalty and Opportunities for Referral

Focus on astigmatic contact lens patients because they are more loyal to their eyecare professional who can fit their prescription successfully. They will often refer more of their friends and family to you because of that perceived “extra care.” In general, contact lens patients come in more frequently and have a stronger relationship with their eyecare professional-a fact that is even truer of astigmatic patients who finally are able to wear the contact lenses they always wanted to wear.

Have the Conversation with Patients

With the enhanced wear-ability of daily replacement contact lenses, the greatest challenge is getting patients to give them a try. Given the chance to try daily replacement toric contact lenses, most of these patients become long-term, enthusiastic wearers.

HOYA North America Launches HOYAVision.com

HOYA Vision Care North America announced the launch of its new consumer web site, developed after a yearlong market research study to better understand how consumers approach buying premium spectacle lenses. The new site is designed to empower eyecare patients with easy‐to‐understand information about the latest advancements in vision correction, offering straightforward explanations about the differences between HOYA lenses and other lens brands.

This approach is in direct response to research findings that consumers are focusing more on their lens treatments and frames than on what they actually see through. “After quantitative and qualitative studies, we found the vast majority of eyecare consumers don’t care about their lenses,” says Ron Barnes, director of project marketing at HOYA North America, “because they don’t understand our industry jargon. That’s why so many patients still think lens brands are all the same, just commodities. So they base their purchase decisions on price alone.”

In addition to the educational benefits for patients, the new site can be used as a preemptive sales tool by eyecare professionals–a way to give their patients a head start in learning about their premium lens options before their next appointment. Detailed overviews about the advanced nature of HOYA lens products and technology, combined with general overviews and explanations about vision correction itself, invite eyecare consumers to be a part of their treatment and better inform their questions prior to their office visits.

“This is about shifting paradigms,” says Barnes. “The new site will let patients know they can wear a premium lens brand, not just designer frames. And just as important, we’ll let them know the most advanced prescription eyeglass lenses on earth are only available at independent eyecare practices.”

The new HOYAVision.com is also designed to make finding HOYA premium lenses easier for consumers. By simply entering their zip code in the “Find a Provider” section of the site, eyecare patients can locate their nearest HOYA-authorized practice.

Partner with a CL Distributor to Make Reordering Convenient and Simple

Use a contact lens distributor to maintain your inventory and streamline patient reorders. The payoffs: Less work for you, and you retain valuable CL patients.

You may use ABB CONCISE’s contact lens distribution services and be able to offer enhanced contact lens services to patients. You may decide to use a distributor to reduce the number of individual contact lens companies you deal with. That way you can have one bill for all of the contact lenses that you order. The key advantages of ordering through a distributor are: enhanced customer service, availability of all of the contact lenses that you fit, fast turn-around time (if the order is placed before 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, you can have the lenses in your office the next day), your reps from all of the contact lens companies receive “credit” for the orders you place through ABB CONCISE and you always have trial lenses available.

In turn, using the full range of services of a contact lens distributor allows you to better the patient experience:

Set Up CL Patients to Order on Practice Web Site

By setting up all of your soft contact lens wearers to order their contacts on your web site via ABB CONCISE’s online contact lens ordering system Yourlens.com, you would be reducing your ABB CONCISE bill, and increasing the size of the check you will receive mid-month, which represents “profit” on the sale of contacts from your practice. There is a Yourlens.com a direct link on our web site so patients can order online themselves. You may also have a link to Yourlens.com on your Facebook page. That way you can make sure that every new and existing contact lens patient is set up to order off your web site, and you can send a confirmation e-mail to them while they are still here in the office. 

Ordering via Distributor Web Site Enhances Compliance

You can encourage patients to order their year’s supply or select the “auto ship” feature when placing their contact lens order to ensure compliance with the wearing and replacement schedule of their contact lenses. The key advantage of Yourlens.com is the ease of use. You should be able to better serve your patients by not only providing them with comprehensive eyecare (evaluating the fit of their contact lenses and the health of all of the ocular structures,etc.) but also educating them on the importance of the proper care and replacement schedule for their contacts, and sending them a link to order their supply. In many cases, patients order while they are in your office from their smartphones or as soon as they get home.

Market Contact Lens Services Using Multimedia

The marketing of these CL services may be done in your print ads in U.S. 1 newspaper and Town Topics in a syndicated column that appears every other week in both papers, and through e-mail blasts with Websystems III at your office. 

Optimize Relationship with Distributor Rep

Your ABB CONCISE rep, should make him/herself available via phone, e-mail and regular visits to your office. Reps can put together laminated sheets that you can use as a tool to educate patients about the savings they will realize when they order a year’s supply of their contact lenses. The quarterly report of contact lenses that ABB CONCISE compiles would help to keep you cost-competitive with your online pricing. In addition to these reports that are produced for you,you are able to go online to the ABB CONCISE web site to track your contact lens inventory finances yourself-making the service a win-win for both you and your patients.

Make Eye Drops a Practice Builder

Natural homeopathic eye drops can be part of your treatment plan for a variety of ocular conditions. A key to success: Offer drops for sale, and make it easy for patients to comply.

Conditions such as dry eye, irritation from contact lens wear, cataracts and the occurrence of floaters afflicts a large and diverse cross section of optometric patients. Among the treatment plans you can offer for these conditions are homeopathic eye drops from Natural Ophthalmics. If you start selling the eye drops, you will find that they are a patient loyalty builder, with patients happy to find relief for ongoing conditions, and a revenue-generator, to boot.

Introduce the Eye Drops As a Standard Treatment Option

Natural Ophthalmics offers a wide range of products that are effective with floaters, cataracts, dry eye and contact lens wear. You can have your patients use the oral eye spray (Total Ocular Spray) and the company’s cataract eye drops for eight months and then have them back for a follow-up visit. At this point the least improvement in acuity is half a line better with the best improvement three full lines. You can recommend this protocol to patients who do not want to have surgery or have eye conditions that would cause a higher risk of vision loss post-surgery.

Natural Ophthalmic products come as drops, pellets and an oral spray. For people with dry eye syndrome you can prescribe tear stimulant drops, for cataracts you can prescribe Total Ocular Spray and cataract drops or cataract pellets. For corneal staining, you can prescribe Ortho-K Thick for night time and Ortho K Thin for daytime with or without contact lens wear.

The biggest advantage of these products is that there are virtually no side effects and all of the eye drops can be used with or without contact lenses on. There are no steroids in them, and they are only sold through professionals.

Start with a Conservative Investment

You can start with a $350 dollar inventory, but you could start with just one Natural Ophthalmics product at a time and gradually add eye drops and eye pellets for other conditions as your patients became more confident with the products. Doing it this way, your original investment could be as low as $60 with a net of $60.

Natural Ophthalmics has a recommended price for their products. None of their products retail for more than $24.75. With the correct presentation of the products, you should break even with the $350 investment in three weeks.  

Tie Eye Drops to Practice Branding

The holistic branding may be great for your practice. You may let your patients know that you provide holistic care, not just eyecare, with point-of-sale products and show a DVD provided by Natural Ophthalmics in your reception room.

Educate Patients

First, you should ask the patient if their symptoms are worth using the products. If they say no, then you can suggest procedures they can do at home and over-the-counter products. If they say yes, then you can explain how the products work.   

When patients purchase products for eye or general health conditions, you should tell them to call if they feel the product didn’t help with their symptoms and you should consider giving them full credit towards future services.

How Do Patients Prefer to Be Contacted to Schedule Appointments?

Most  people (44.7%) prefer to be contacted over the phone when scheduling for their next appointment, according to Jobson Optical Research’s Waiting Game Insight Survey. Scheduling an appointment before leaving the office came next with 19.7% choosing that mode of communication for recall. More of the younger respondents, ages of 18 to 34, preferred e-mail (17.9%) to the older 55+ age group (13.1%) and vice versa for regular mail, preferred by only 12.9% of the younger age group, and almost a quarter (24.9%) of the oldest age group.

Capture each patient’s preferred method of communication.  Put this information in the patient’s record so it can be updated on each patient visit. Use a simple questionnaire with each patient such as:

What is the best way for us to communicate with you about your next office visit?
[  ]  E-mail
[  ]  Telephone
[  ]  Text message
[  ]  Traditional mail
[  ]  Twitter

Make sure you create office systems that utilize the patient’s preferred method of communication. There are excellent programs available today that can help you manage patient communications more effectively.  

Increasing the effectiveness of your patient communications results in increased patient compliance with your prescribed treatment plans.