Marketing Vision Therapy
Marketing Vision Therapy
Once you’ve prepared to offer VT services, how do you spread the word?
DOMINICK M. MAINO, O.D., M.ED., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D.-A., CHICAGO, ILL.
You’ve determined how much space is needed for a room dedicated to vision therapy (VT). You’ve purchased the starter equipment. You have a few patients scheduled to begin therapy. An enthusiastic staff member has been trained as the in-office vision therapist.
Now, how do you market your VT services? (For more on creating a VT niche, see March 2013 OM, page 36.)
Follow these four steps to increase your number of VT patients and referrals.
1. Obtain credentials.
Consider becoming a Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) (http://www.covd.org/Portals/0/2013FellowshipCertification Guide.pdf) and a member of the Pediatrics/Binocular Vision Section and/or a Diplomate in the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) (www.aaopt.org/becoming) in the VT area.
When you obtain these additional credentials, you are then networked into each organization’s referral system. Also, potential patients seek these organizations for the names of doctors they can trust to provide the best care possible. COVD has a very active public information program to help the public learn about VT services.
In the near future, third-party payers may require proof of expertise and board certification in VT before considering your patient’s request for coverage. The aforementioned advanced credentials assure that you have and continue to maintain the education and training to best serve your patients’ needs.
2. Look within.
Instruct your staff to inform everyone they know that you now offer VT services. In addition, contact the American Optometric Association (www.AOA.org), Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF) (OEPF.org), the Optometrists Network (www.optome trists.org) and the COVD for brochures and other in-house tools to inform patients of the addition of VT services to your practice.
Also, consider starting a patient book/publications-lending library, where patients can read about who you are, what you do and why success is often the end result of VT. Once you join OEPF, many VT books are sent to you as a part of your membership.
3. Go outside your practice.
The two primary ways to market your VT practice externally:
1. Contact professional individuals. Send letters to all professional individuals whom you feel should know you now offer VT. Such professionals include, but are not limited to, local teachers, occupational and physical therapists, pediatricians and your fellow eyecare professionals. These letters should be comprised of an introduction to who you are, your areas of expertise, your credentials, the services you provide and the benefit of VT to them and those they serve.
Also, contact local schools and optometric practices in your area to ask whether you can make personal presentations and/or drop off brochures regarding the VT services you provide. This tactic, in particular, has been very successful at my private practice.
2. Use the Internet. To start, have VT listed on your practice web page, so both patients and professionals can see you offer the service and, therefore, inquire about it. Next, consider contacting a public relations company, such as PRNewsWire (www.prnewswire.com/products-services/), PRWeb (www.prweb.com) or PRBuzz (www.prbuzz.com) to help you disseminate press releases about your VT services and success stories to thousands of search engines, news sites, blogs, social networks, newspaper sites, TV news sites, etc. In my experience, the cost for such a service can be as little as $300/year for unlimited releases. For an additional cost, some services may offer tracking of the news release and tools to measure your return on investment.
Also, take advantage of the major social media platforms:
► Facebook. Create a Facebook page that focuses on your VT services. To make the information accessible, post VT “success stories,” and mention new technology, in terms of its specific benefits to patients. In addition, with my patients’ permission I’ve posted their stories along with photographs and videos.
► Twitter. Use Twitter to provide folks with “bites” of information on any new innovation, service or product your practice offers in the area of VT. Also, mention specialized websites, such as 3D Vision & Eye Health (www.3deyehealth.org), a book you’ve published or a lecture you’ve given with associated links.
► LinkedIn. Become an often-viewed LinkedIn profile by including information on where you’ve lectured, what you’ve written and what innovations you have developed in the VT field. Also, put your presentations on YouTube and Slideshare, and post a connection to these sites on your LinkedIn profile.
Are you a member or officer of an advisory board, board of trustees or other noteworthy group? Post this here as well. This illustrates your expertise and enables you to make LinkedIn connections with other colleagues, promoting patient referrals.
► Pinterest. Create boards of interest for those potentially seeking VT. Using terms such as “lazy eye,” “school performance” and “vision therapy” garners the responses you want, as they are relatable terms to the general public. In addition, consider putting a copy of the COVD Quality of Life Survey on Pinterest and offer a no-cost consultation after the patient fills in the survey (http://02a53ed.netsolhost.com/eyedocksblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/COVD-Questionnaire-calculatable.pdf).
► Blog. As a professor of pediatrics/binocular vision at the Illinois College of Optometry/Illinois Eye Institute, I’m expected to stay abreast of the latest research in my areas of expertise. Because of this expectation (and desire to know the latest), I created MainosMemos (www.MainosMemos.com) to disseminate information on the latest research in VT, as well as well as other areas in which I’m interested. I share this blog with my colleagues, patients and others who have a similar interest in these areas.
My blog is set up to share this information on my other social media accounts as well. I post once, and this post is readily available to many others with little additional time invested.
4. Invest in computerized technology.
Computerized assessment tools not only streamline the diagnostic process and provide a timely return on your investment, they also provide your practice with a “technology buzz” that garners patient referrals. (See “Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technology,” page 36.)
By following the marketing steps outlined above, you’ll not only increase VT patient flow, you’ll also help many families realize that VT is the answer that they have been seeking. OM
Dr. Maino is a distinguished practitioner of the National Academies of Practice and practices at Lyons Family Eye Care. E-mail him at DMaino@ico.edu, or send comments to optometricmanage firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technology*
• ADR iNet. Moving text, standard, and whole line dynamic reading
• Amblyopia iNet. Therapy procedures for the treatment of amblyopia.
• Brainware Safari. Therapy for 14 cognitive skills in six areas.
• BVA. Stand-alone binocular vision screening program. Automatic testing of heterophorias, fusional range, saccades, pursuits, accommodation, suppressions, fixation disparities and an asthenopia survey.
• Computer Orthoptics. Therapy procedures: smooth vergence, rotations, jump ductions, multiple choice vergence, accommodative rock, pursuits, saccades, visual memory, cheiroscope, amblyopia therapy procedures. Diagnostic procedures: heterophobia, fusional ranges, accommodative facility, pursuits, saccades, Worth 4 dot, motor field, fixation disparity, visual memory, aniseikonia.
• Computerized Perceptual Therapy. In-office computerized perceptual therapy programs for simultaneous processing, sequential processing and speed of processing.
• HTS iNet. Pursuits, saccades, base-in/base-out vergence, auto-vergence, jump ductions, base-up/base-down vergence, accommodative rock.
• Neuro-Vision Rehabilitator (used for those with brain injury). ocular vestibular integrator, visual motor enhancer, visuomotor integrator, dynamic ocular motor processing, fixation anomalies.
• Perceptual Visual Tracking Program. Oculomotor therapy, eye movement therapy.
• Play Attention. Improves attention.
• PTS II iNet. Simultaneous processing, sequential processing, speed-of-information processing, visual temporal processing and rapid automatized naming.
• PTS Test. Computerized perceptual therapy assessment. Automatic testing for speed of information processing, visual sequential processing, visual simultaneous processing.
• ReadAlyzer Eye Movement Recording System. Fixations, regressions, fixation duration, reading speed, cross correlation between right and left eye, play-back of recorded eye movements.
• Sanet Vision Integrator. Procedures for saccadic trainer, tactile feedback, hand speed function, “visual search” saccadic, metronome, tachistoscope functions.
• Sub iNet. Addresses subitizing deficits to improve math skills.
• TOVA (Test of Variables Attention). Assesses ADD, ADHD and impulsivity.
• Track & Read. Twelve therapy procedures for developing saccadic eye movements, span of recognition, and visual sequential memory skills.
• Visagraph. Eye movement recording system, computerized recordings of reading eye movements, saccades and fixations.
• Vision Builder. Includes a metronome, comprehension test, moving window, recognition, track letters, reaction time, binocular reading, visual memory, Randot duction.
• Visual Information Processing Skills (VIPS). Contains more than 50 therapy procedures.
• Visual Thinking 101. Therapy for visual, spatial and organization skills. Parquetry block patterns, tic-tac-toe designs, 3D tic-tac-toe designs, random color patterns, real life scenes and patterns, visual memory, discrimination, laterality and directionality skills.
*Find these devices at: www.visiontherapysolutions.net, www.oepf.org/products, www.cavt.net, www.bernell.com, www.biof.com and www.mybrainware.com.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: May 2013, page(s): 34 36 43