MARKETING & MERCHANDISING
Somewhere Over the Internet
...You can educate patients and enhance relationships.
LEAH COLBY, O.D.
Newsflash: Computers are here to stay. (I know. Such a profound statement is surprising.) Fortunately, you can use those expensive little electronic boxes in your office to take patient education and the doctor-patient relationship to the next level. Consider these ideas.
When we diagnose patients with an eye disease or condition, we use “in-house” scripts to educate them. We also provide handouts that review their condition and the treatment plan.
In addition to the script, I add: “We have gone over a lot of information in your exam today that can be overwhelming. I encourage you to visit the Internet to find out more information, and I have attached a couple of Internet sites that have a good overview of your disease. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me.” And yes, I share my personal business e-mail.
Although a bazillion different sites are available, I often recommend the National Eye Institute (www.nei.nih.gov) and All About Vision (www.allaboutvision.com). These sites are credible, and their information is generally patient-friendly and not skewed to a particular type of provider.
When dealing with a chronic eye disease, I recommend the patient find a blog to keep up to date on treatment options or studies in which he/she may want to participate. I always caution my patients that information on the Internet can be misleading and to always use our doctors as resources for questions.
I always caution patients that information posted on the Internet can be misleading.
Recently, a new patient told me her last doctor got annoyed when she asked questions about information she had found on the Internet regarding cataracts. While the question may have put the doctor behind schedule, we must validate our patients’ concerns and questions, or risk losing them.
If the list of questions is exhaustive, offer to correspond via e-mail. And again, yes, I share my personal business e-mail.
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Provide your e-mail address.
In this incredibly busy world, it is almost impossible most days for me to check my voice messages, then play phone tag with a patient for days and finally remember the topic of discussion.
A majority of people check their e-mail frequently throughout the day, and for busy patients it’s a great way of communicating. More than 10,000 patients are in our database, and I can tell you that the number of patients who utilize my e-mail is less than 1%. They are respectful of my time, and the content of their e-mails is short and to the point.
Embrace the technology and information that’s available to guide patients. You will be surprised how it grows your patient compliance, comprehension and practice retention. OM
DR. COLBY OPERATES EYEWEST VISION CLINIC IN ROGERS AND ST. MICHAEL, MINN. SHE WAS NAMED THE “YOUNG OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR” BY THE MINNESOTA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION. TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE, E-MAIL OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.