A: It’s a matter of offering products and perspective.
With the ever-evolving diagnostic and treatment options for dry eye disease (DED) and their affordability, entry into its management has never been easier. To start, however, I recommend carrying DED treatment products, such as beaded warming masks, ocular nutritional supplements and lid hygiene products. My reasons: They provide patient convenience and increase the likelihood of compliance to the doctor-prescribed brand.
If optometrists find that their product presentation is getting good patient uptake, they should consider getting more skin in the game by investing in diagnostic and therapeutic devices. (A Caveat: O.D.s should vet new diagnostics and therapeutics to be sure they do what they claim.) If, however, uptake is poor, optometrists should consider product positioning, the ones they are carrying and their price points. For example, it’s not always what the O.D. says, but how he says it, in terms of “overselling” or acting almost apologetic for offering products.
A brief, educated recommendation about “why” a specific product is being prescribed to a patient can be the best presentation to patient uptake.
Keep in mind that much of a DED exam is part of the comprehensive eye health evaluation. Think about it: During the slit lamp exam, evaluation of the lids, lashes, lid position, cornea, conjunctiva and tear prism all happen in seconds. Thus, paying close attention for the signs of DED does not slow the exam.
Should comprehensive exam findings reveal a suspicion for diagnosis, optometrists need to develop a plan to efficiently arrive at a definitive answer:
- Have front desk personnel educate patients that the DED evaluation falls under their medical insurance and fees for the service verbally and via documentation.
- Have techs provide a brief, but focused, survey (e.g. the Dry Eye Questionnaire-5) and basic education to patients about the disease. Surveys get a bad rap for slowing down in-take. However, they get to the heart of the complaint, preventing O.D.s from running down too many rabbit holes. Regarding basic education, having techs provide this as they perform any DED-related diagnostic testing instills patient understanding of the chronic disease.
- Review diagnostic testing results, and provide an explanation to the patient about the related treatment plan. Plans provide direction. Failing to plan can result in an aimless work-up and time wasted. Your time is important and so is the patient’s. For additional information related to this question, see the Dry Eye PMO articles, “DED Diagnosis Simplified” and “Getting Staff DED Ready,” at bit.ly/DEDSimp and bit.ly/DEDPersonnel , respectively. OM