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 By Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, Editor August 15, 2007 - Tip #290 
 Contact Dr. Gailmard | Subscribe | Archives | Print this issue Visit: optometricmanagement.com 
Words Make a Difference

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Additional Information

There is no question that the way your practice is perceived by patients has a huge effect on future success. During the course of a visit, an image is formed by thousands of little things that are seen and heard in your office. We have control over most of those things to a large extent, but many doctors become so busy that there just is not enough time to train staff members on little details. I hope this list of preferred terms will help to a small degree.

The list is not exhaustive and it's not perfect because words taken out of context can have different meanings. But it's a start. I tried to balance the need to say things in a professional and pleasing manner, yet not become so obtuse that a patient does not understand what you're talking about.

Have all your staff members read this list and consider printing and posting it discreetly at your front desk (not the check-out counter). It would actually be a good idea for doctors to give the list a quick read as well; I hear many of my colleagues use some of the non-preferred terms quite frequently. Staff members tune in to the terms used by the doctor so it's important to set a good example. The list is also a must-read for all new employees.

As you hear other examples of phrases that could be expressed in a better way, just add them to the list.
  • Don't say customer or client.... Say patient
  • Don't say sell.... Say prescribe or dispense or provide
  • Don't say buy.... Say order
  • Don't say store or shop.... Say office or practice
  • Don't say business or trade .... Say practice or profession
  • Don't say price.... Say fee
  • Don't say old patient.... Say established patient
  • Don't say waiting room.... Say reception area
  • Don't say back room.... Say lab or administrative office
  • Don't say optical shop.... Say optical dispensary
  • Don't say buy frames.... Say select frames
  • Don't say girl.... Say technician or assistant or optician or staff member or use person's actual name
  • Don't say employee.... Say staff member
  • Don't say doctor is busy.... Say doctor is with a patient
  • Don't say doctor is on vacation.... Say doctor is out of the office
  • Don't say doctor is late.... Say schedule was interrupted by an emergency
  • Don't say trade show.... Say conference
  • Don't say trade magazine.... Say professional journal
  • Don't say trade group.... Say professional association
  • Don't say equipment.... Say instruments
  • Don't say check eyes.... Say perform examination
  • Don't say check up.... Say follow-up exam
  • Don't say trial contact lens.... Say diagnostic contact lens
  • Don't say fit contacts.... Say prescribe contacts
  • Don't say check contacts.... Say evaluate contacts and corneal health
  • Don't say pick-up glasses.... Say dispense eyewear
  • Don't say insert.... Say apply
  • Don't say surgery or operation.... Say procedure
  • Don't say drug.... Say medication
  • Don't say steroid.... Say anti-inflammatory medication
  • Don't say glasses were rejected.... Say glasses did not meet our quality standards
  • Don't say pressure check or glaucoma test or air puff.... Say tonometry or measurement of intraocular pressure
  • Don't say picture.... Say photograph or image
  • Don't say invisible bifocals.... Say progressive lenses
  • Don't say antireflective coating.... Say antireflective lenses
  • Don't say no problem.... Say thank you and you're welcome

Best wishes for continued success,

Read Past Tips Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week

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Send questions and comments to neil@gailmard.com.

Dr. Gailmard offers consulting services to eye care professionals through Prima Eye Group; information is available at www.primaeyegroup.com.
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