Optometric Management Tip # 71 - Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Do your patients know about new developments in contact lenses?
I think many of us take the approach with contact lens patients that "if it ain't broke ... don't fix it". If our established contact lens patients return for their annual comprehensive eye exam with no complaints, we are likely to do the exam, make any minor adjustment in lens power that is indicated, and renew the contact lens Rx and supply the product. With the myriad of new contact lens products, I wonder why more optometrists don't bring up the options currently available?
First, let's review a few of the newest developments in contact lens products that patients might like to know about:
What are some possible reasons for not being proactive?
- Disposable bifocal contact lenses
- Color cosmetic lenses
- 30 day continuous wear lenses
- Daily disposables (while not new - many patients have still never heard of them)
- Corneal refractive therapy
I know many successful optometrists (and consultants) who don't present options at all, but simply tell patients what is best for them and go with it until they hear an objection. I think that's great - if it fits your comfort level. I don't advise presenting a laundry list of options because it is too much for patients to digest. Try selecting one good option for any given patient (because sometimes several would work) and then explain the benefits of it. You can decide how aggressive to be with your approach - but we owe it to our patients to keep them informed.
- Doctor is afraid he/she will look like a salesman. I don't get this reasoning. It's easy to present lens options as medical information without making it seem like you care what the patient chooses. After all, these people have already chosen your practice for contact lens care and have decided to buy something. Patients and consumers appreciate more information when making a purchase. I know I do.
- Changing lens designs may cause more chair time to fit the new lens. Of course it will - that's what fitting fees are for. You certainly should charge a higher professional fee for the work needed, and it should be disclosed to the patient at some point as you discuss the features and benefits. The patient can decide if it is worth it to proceed.
- Patients will reject the new products because they cost more. Big mistake if you think like this, because many people will buy way more than you might expect. It is kind of unfair and presumptuous to patients if the doctor pre-judges what they can afford and what is important to them. If optometrists don't tell people what is available in vision care... how will they know? TV commercials?
- Doctor does not have time to discuss new lens products. Much of the discussion can be delegated to trained technicians - but I think the doctor should also make time for this type of discussion. There is probably something else you could be delegating to create more time for patient consultation. Discussing treatment plans is important for the doctor to take part in.
P.S. If you aren't prescribing many of the new contact lens designs, speak to your sales rep and take some CE courses so you can begin!
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management