Article

CLINICAL: DRY EYE

A Doctor’s Market

Bring relief to patients by capitalizing on the latest innovations in dry eye care

“Coming soon” often drives crowds to stand in long lines outside well-known retailers. It creates a feeling of exhilaration that comes from being “in the know” via targeted marketing campaigns that ultimately convert enthusiasm to a sale.

CAPITALIZING ON INNOVATIONS

In the case of new dry eye disease (DED) products, sometimes campaigns, driven by the manufacturer, are directed at physicians and their staffs to encourage capital purchases or script writing, while others are direct to consumer (DTC). Some doctors have reported feeling out of the loop and worked around by DTC campaigns. However, if properly utilized, DTC can be a business driver for the O.D.’s practice.

For example, in 2016, a DTC campaign showcased actress Jennifer Aniston discussing her personal plight with DED and her success in quelling the chronic condition with a new drug.

Sure, this prompted patients to ask their optometrists for additional information on what Ms. Aniston used, creating, in many cases, diagnostic testing, a diagnosis and, for some, a prescription for the same treatment. That said, business-savvy O.D.s harnessed the DTC campaign to broach the subject of DED with all their patients. The result: A slew of patients, vs. the four or five who asked about the drug in other practices, were diagnosed, after careful assessment, subsequently treated and able to achieve relief from a bothersome condition.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

More diagnostic and pharmaceutical innovations, in particular, are “coming soon” to the dry eye market (you excited, yet?) with availability set for 2019. They are cyclosporine A ophthalmic solution, 0.09% (Cequa, Sun Pharmaceuticals), for increasing tear production in patients who have keratoconjunctivitis sicca, and TearCare (Sight Sciences), an in-office thermal treatment.

Keeping in mind the business-savvy O.D.s mentioned above, here are three action steps you can take to capitalize.

  1. Put DED in your wheelhouse. Review obstructive and inflammatory components of the disease and how they manifest as signs and symptoms. Next, start evaluating your current patient base for those who may have DED and, thus, benefit from the new product. (The common misconception is practices need to find patients for new treatments when these patients are already in your chair.)
  2. Get staff on board. New medications can come with patient access issues, such as cost. Having the staff poised to tackle these issues will make utilization easier. Also, keep in mind companies are often eager to provide staff education about new products.
  3. Create a “coming soon” event for patients. DED patients wait with bated breath for new products to hit the market. If your patient has failed prior treatments, they’re likely ready, even eager, to try the latest and greatest. For those patients who may eye emerging therapies with skepticism, arm yourself with the facts about the product and what benefits and limitations it has to provide your patient with the most accurate education. It’s always better not to oversell and under deliver. Too often, new DED treatments are set up for failure when doctors position them as curative rather than therapeutic. (See “Event Tips,” below.)

EVENT TIPS

→ Market internally to DED patients within the practice.

→ Use personalized invitations to let these patients know about the event.

→ If your practice offers premium in-office procedures, track conversions from attendees to calculate your ROI accurately.

→ Reconnect with attendees after the event by sending an email or personal note from staff.

THE EVOLUTION CONTINUES

DED diagnosis and management aren’t fading away. In fact, they’re picking up momentum. Whether your practice would like to invest in equipment or begin to develop a more meaningful treatment protocol with pharmaceuticals, opportunities abound to provide relief to patients, while increasing your revenue. OM