Article Date: 1/1/2007

Now That It's Your Time to Shine

When consulting with patients, does your office speak louder than you?


In Optometric Management, we often refer to the doctor/patient consultation as "your time to shine." You, the optometrist, have reviewed test results and other pertinent patient information and are now ready to meet with the patient, discuss recommendations and prescribe a course of action.

In my experience, you are well-prepared for the consultation. You demonstrate an excellent understanding of the patient's need(s). Your presentation speaks directly to the patient. You anticipate questions and just as important, you listen. Could anything possibly be missing?

If the office itself doesn't facilitate the consultation, then the likely answer is yes.

Set the stage

I've visited a number of healthcare practices where the doctor's message gets lost as the patient's attention drifts to a bright computer monitor, loud background music or even louder decor. And, those non-emergency interruptions that can certainly undermine the consultation.

In a busy practice, interruptions are unavoidable. And a tastefully decorated practice includes eye-catching art and furnishings. However, the office environment should always remain functional. The focus must be on you during this relatively brief and highly valuable period of time.

Become the patient

It's helpful to experience the room from the patient's perspective. Is the chair comfortable? Is the music in the background, or is it too loud or too off beat? Would you focus on the doctor or some other aspect of the room? Ask staff for their opinions.

Many presentations involve visual aids, such as posters, models or patient education software. These should be readily available, con-

veniently located and seamlessly integrated into your practice.

As for other interruptions, your staff should know that unless it's truly an emergency, messages should be delivered to you after the consultation. It seems like an obvious point, but I've found many healthcare practices break this rule.

Think of the consultation in terms of any presentation. The setting plays a critical role in delivering a most important message — that you are an excellent eyecare practitioner.

A welcome addition

It's my pleasure to announce that Jennifer Kirby has joined the staff of OM as our senior associate editor. I'm confident that Jen's experience, eye for detail and can-do attitude will contribute significantly to the continued success of our publication.

Optometric Management, Issue: January 2007