o.d. to o.d.

A Tale of Two Experiences

o.d. to o.d.

A Tale of Two Experiences

In terms of the consumer experience, does your practice rank among the great or the “not so much so?”

Chief Optometric Editor

Several weeks ago I had two very different “eye” experiences that, in retrospect, provided quite a view into how consumers may look at what we do. Waking on the morning of a family mission trip to Mexico, I felt a foreign body sensation (FBS) in my right eye. I was pretty sure I was having a recurrent corneal erosion (RCE) — and I was about to cross the border for five days with little to no access to medical assistance.

“What are you here for?”

Even though I don’t wear contact lenses, I wanted to make sure I didn’t have an early infectious ulceration, so I visited the closest “eyecare place” for emergency care. There, the woman at the front desk said, “We can fit you in, but you may have to wait a few minutes.” I filled out the nine pages of paperwork, and 46 minutes later, the next staff person greeted me with, “What are you here for?”

After an air puff “for glaucoma” and a review of my meds (none), I was asked to sit in the exam room — door closed. Twelve minutes later, the doctor walked in and asked what I was there for. (The next thought that crossed my mind was, “Really, it is on my history form that I filled out — top of page one under: What are you here for?”)

The O.D. mystery patient

I didn’t let on that I was an optometrist. After four minutes of swinging the slit lamp back and forth, the doctor told me my LASIK flap was slipping off. Having run one of the largest refractive surgery practices in the United States for five years, I was a little shocked to find that 17 years after my LASIK, my flap was “slipping off.” There was no NaFl, no technology utilized, except the air puff, which I am sure made my RCE worse. I asked whether I needed other tests. He said, “No, the flap will fix itself.” I thanked him for his time, paid my bill and left completely frustrated.

A different option

I walked out and low and behold, there was another practice across the parking lot. As I entered the office, a young man immediately greeted me warmly and asked how he could assist me. I explained that I had FBS since this morning. He commented that he would get me in right away so “we” could remedy the situation.

Four minutes later, I had seen the front desk, tech and was talking with the O.D. After a focused exam that included NaFl and topography, I was diagnosed with a small inferior RCE. She discussed my options, knowing that a debridement two hours before driving across the border didn’t sound like a great choice. Relieved that I did not have an ulcer or a “slipped flap,” I was given a bandage soft contact lens and a script. The staff thanked me for coming in and gave me the doctor’s personal cell number in case I had any issues across the border. Talk about VERY different experiences.

Which practice are you?

We talk and read about providing a consumer experience as a way to improve our quality of care and build our businesses. I had an experience in each office, one great and one maybe not so much so. These experiences made me wonder how consumers perceive my office, and even our industry in general. This month’s OM focuses on how to change or improve the consumer experience. As you read, please contemplate which practice you are — and which one you want to be. OM