Article Date: 5/1/2007

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Patient’s Perspective

By Angela Jackson Senior Associate Editor

It’s All in the Family

Want to attract families to your practice? For a working mother of two, nothing’s more appealing than flexible office hours and a caring doctor.

Kids will be kids, and one of my kids just happens to be a 6-year-old boy who wears glasses and can’t contain his overabundance of energy. When playing cards or board games, he does flips while waiting for his turn. If you look at him in a playful way, he assumes you’ve begun his favorite game, which he calls “tackle.” When he’s in school, he passes the time by chewing on his frames. Basically, he’s an optician’s nightmare.
So when I chose an eyecare practice, I knew I needed an office with long and flexible hours in a location I could visit easily and often to get his glasses adjusted or repaired.

Timing Is Everything
I chose a Sears optical center, which has an optometrist on staff, in a nearby mall. Since I work full time, the extended hours are very helpful. I can pick my kids up at their after-school programs and head to the mall for quick fixes and adjustments — or even for an exam. The optometrist has hours well into the evening, as late as 7:30 p.m. on some days, and the opticians are available
7 days a week.

Caring for Kids
The optometrist was great with my son and patient with my daughter, who had even more questions than I did. He let her read the chart and happily answered all of her inquiries about her brother’s vision. He also addressed my son directly instead of talking “over his head” and asking me questions about his vision.
The opticians were equally
patient and helpful. They showed my son to the children’s section of the optical center and helped him select frames that were appropriate for his small head and nose. They encouraged him to try on as many as he wanted. They didn’t rush him, and they didn’t presume to know what was best. They simply made recommendations and let him arrive at his own decision.

On a Moment’s Notice
Not long ago, my daughter suffered a corneal scratch from an errant classmate’s finger. She was still upset when I picked her up that Friday evening. I called the optical center and scheduled a Saturday morning appointment — a luxury you won’t find in every practice.
On Saturday, my daughter said her eye was feeling much better. But the optometrist examined her anyway, never making me feel silly for bringing her in. He said she had a corneal scratch that already was beginning to heal and told us to have a great weekend.
That’s what makes my O.D. perfect for my family and me. His practice is easily accessible and he’s great with kids. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Tips for a Family-centered Practice Here’s what will attract families to your practice and keep them coming back.
• Evening and weekend hours
• Available “emergency” appointments
• Patient and caring staff and practitioner
• A good selection of kid-sized frames
• A separate place for kids in the waiting room, which should include small-scale furniture and books or toys to keep kids occupied

Editor’s note: Periodically, new O.D. will explore eye care from the patient’s perspective. Whether you have a special interest in contact lenses, low vision or pediatric care, you’ll find out from real patients what attracts them to a practice and keeps them coming back.

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2007