Article Date: 10/1/2008

Hitting Out of the Rough
Patient's Perspective

Hitting Out of the Rough

Two golf-loving optometrists make different impressions: the first gets a patient teed off, but the second is well within the cut.

Nichol Destremps as told to Erin Murphy, contributing editor

DO YOU PLAY GOLF? The optometrist I used to see was a golfer, and so is my new one. But their personal styles are so different that I left one doctor in favor of the other, and I recommend my new optometrist to all of my friends. I succeeded in finding the right optometrist in two attempts —s a birdie! But some patients prefer to sink it in one, so here are some tips to keep your patients happy.

Don't Shoot for the Green

Even before I walked in the door of the first optometrist's office, I knew he liked golf. His BMW, complete with a golf-themed vanity plate, was parked outside. When he walked into the exam room, he was wearing golf clothes with a gold watch and expensive shoes — a much flashier look than Tiger Woods.

But the real problem was that the doctor had a flashier strategy and approach than Tiger, as well. At the end of the day, it seemed like his primary goal was to sell me something.

While I was in the chair, he talked about golf. He seemed more interested in hitting the links than giving me an exam. I saw this doctor for two annual visits, and he didn't ask me about myself or remember anything about me from the previous visit. I felt like a number.

At the front desk, I asked for my prescription. My insurance covered either eyeglasses or contact lenses, and I wanted both. The practice had a small selection of frames, so I planned to get my eyeglasses elsewhere and pay out of pocket for contact lenses online.

The doctor reappeared to give me hard sell on both the eyeglasses and contact lenses. I was surprised the doctor, not the staff, was giving me the sales pitch. What's more, making a sale seemed to be his first priority with me. After two visits to his office, I knew he was more interested in my money than my eye health, so I decided he could get his greens fees from someone else.

Editor's note: Periodically, new OD 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.

Take a Relaxed Stance

I've been seeing my "new" doctor for years now, and I couldn't be happier. His office is modest, and he isn't dressed to the nines. He's very nice — outgoing with a good sense of humor. He does play golf, but he puts the pastime in its proper place, rather than organizing his professional practice around it.

My doctor always remembers where I work and what we talked about at the last visit. He answers all of my questions, so I feel confident about the exam.

This office also has a small selection of frames, so I still shop elsewhere for the high-end brand that I like, but his staff never balks at giving me the prescription or faxing it to an optician.

The whole experience of visiting the eye doctor has changed for me. This practice has so much more personality, with a friendly staff that remembers me and always calls me by name. I don't see dollar signs in anyone's eyes. I feel welcome, important and well cared for — and that's starting to feel like par for the course. nOD

Tips to Improve Your Game
■ Delegate spectacle and contact lens sales to staff.
■ Look like you spend conservatively, or patients may question your prices — and your priorities.
■ Don't fight patients who want a copy of their prescription.
■ Be considerate of patients' vision coverage. They may need to find a lower price on eyeglasses or contact lenses.
■ To build patients' confidence in you, show interest in their lives and always address them by name.

Optometric Management, Issue: October 2008