Optometric Management Tip # 542   -   Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Don't Rush the Frame Selection

I recently asked readers for some suggestions on tip topics they would like to see covered and I received some very good ones. More are always welcome, but read on for this tip from a colleague who has had the opportunity to work in many practices. He makes an excellent point.

Reader email
I am a private practice owner of two years and an avid reader of your tips. Before purchasing my practice, I used to do a lot of fill-in work and I think this tip would be helpful for many ODs. Basically, I am amazed at how many ODs really short-change the eyewear selection experience for the patient. The patient is often dilated and given 15 minutes to select frames and make lens choices before being hustled back to the exam room, or it is rushed because the schedule doesn't allow adequate time before office staff leaves for lunch, or people are running vacuums, and covering equipment, etc. at the end of the day. Or, the doctor tries to squeeze in a comprehensive exam and visual fields, review findings and adjust therapy, then have the patient (dilated, blurry, and tired) try to select eyewear...the result being "just give me what I had last year"!

At my office, we schedule plenty of time while the patient is fresh to do the eyewear selection, offer complementary CLs for the high Rx patients, and for new patients (if we get good VA and feel OK with health screening) we schedule a separate visit for the DFE so the patient doesn't feel rushed. At the very least, we dilate AFTER the frame selection. We also always make VFs a separate visit from refraction/eyewear selection, and make every effort to run on time at the end of the day. We also have a policy that the radio stays on and there are no visible "end of day" procedures going on that could subtly make patients feel rushed as the end of the day approaches. I feel this has made a significant difference in our average optical sale.

My thoughts
This reader basically wrote this tip article for me, which is much appreciated! I have seen many practices that follow the examples provided and I have had to work on the procedures in my practice to avoid these mistakes.

It's easy for ODs to let other tasks supersede frame selection because we delegate the frame selection process, so it is easy to not give it much thought. Another reason is that we consider the eye exam to be the most important factor in the patient's visit. I think we can all agree that ocular health is most important, but that does not mean we need to neglect optical dispensing. For most patients, we can provide a thorough eye health exam and give the patient plenty of attention.
Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management