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Solutions to a CL Problem
“Prescribe,” educate and sell.
JEFFRY D. GERSON, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Not all contact lens solutions are created equal. Although this seems obvious to us, as optometrists, it is not to many patients. This is evidenced by the fact that private-label (“generic”) solutions comprise 32.6% of the lens care market, says Nielsen 2012 data (the most recent).
Research reveals several reasons to pay attention to solutions, from how they interact with lenses to potentially cause clinical differences, such as corneal staining, to their disinfecting property strength when lenses are left in the case for several days.
A common patient complaint is end-of-day lens dryness. This may be due to ocular surface disease, solution toxicity or intolerance. Patients rarely think of solutions as causative of end-of-the-day problems and assume they need a different lens brand or to cease lens wear. The solution here may be to offer peroxide-based solutions.
But, what is the solution to the problem of patient non-compliance to the contact lens solutions we recommend? Here are three fixes:
1 “Prescribe” a specific solution.
Just as you would not ask a financial advisor to buy you stocks without specific direction, we should not ask patients to buy solution without giving explicit guidance. We must make specific recommendations, and frame them as a prescription:
“We are going to have you use solution X. We have found that this works well with your specific contact lenses.”
2 Provide patient education.
Explaining to patients the diversity among solution options increases the likelihood of patient compliance to the prescribed solution:
“It is important for you to know that all solutions are different. Generic solutions, in particular, present with a great deal of diversity because we don’t fully know what is in the bottle, in terms of ingredients. This makes it very difficult for us to identify the offending agent and enable you to avoid it if you develop a sensitivity to the solution.”
In addition, we (the doctor or staff member) must provide a solution sample as the patient leaves the practice. This reinforces the “prescription” and the patient education we’ve provided.
3 Sell the “prescribed” solution.
Consider selling the solutions you prescribe out of your practice. Doing so helps decrease patient temptation toward different solutions. A caveat: Do not mention you sell solutions until after following steps one and two. This way, patients won’t question your motivation:
“If you’d like, you can purchase your solution here. This way, you won’t have to worry about going to the store once your sample is finished.”
Patients place a great deal of value on convenience. For your part, you’ll be increasing your practice revenue.
It should be noted that, just as there are different solutions and preservatives in soft contact lens solutions, the same is true for RGPs. The difference between a happy bifocal RGP wearer and an intolerant one may be solution related.
Tailor the solution.
Every contact lens-wearing patient does better with certain solutions. If we give everyone the same product, we risk contact lens drop out for a reason that could have been remedied. OM
DR. GERSON IS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE AT WESTGLEN EYECARE IN SHAWNEE, KAN. E-MAIL HIM AT JGERSON@HOTMAIL.COM. TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE E-MAIL OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.
Optometric Management, Volume: 49 , Issue: January 2014, page(s): 60