Opportunities for meeting your patients’ varying vision requirements are more abundant than ever before with the slew of lens and frame options at our disposal. Yet, many optometrists note that few of their eyeglass-wearing patients own more than one pair of prescription eyewear.
In my practice, I’ve found that meeting all my patients’ visual needs through multiple spectacle pairs is contingent on following specific action steps, which occur along the patient’s annual comprehensive eye and health examination journey through the practice.
To explain, let me introduce “Richard” (not his real name), a 46-year-old established patient.
When Richard called the practice to schedule an appointment, a front desk staff member asked him to bring all his eyewear with him to his appointment, making specific mention of beneficial eyewear that patients, in general, are not always aware of. This included computer glasses, polarized sunwear and any glasses worn for sports or hobbies.
This action step, which is taken on all patients who call the practice to make annual comprehensive eye and health examinations, plants the seed that this eyewear comprises essential tools for patients’ visual needs, enhancing their lifestyles.
Once Richard presented for his annual comprehensive eye and health examination with his pair of glasses and prescription sunglasses, our pre-test staff began asking him lifestyle questions to determine what other eyewear might benefit him. They inquired about his current job, hobbies, how comfortable and clear his vision was while using digital devices and more. (See “Pre-Testing Questions,” below.)
On completion of pre-testing, our staff member walked Richard to the exam room and provided me with his results and answers to the questions they asked. I was then able to use the answers to these questions to educate him about additional eyewear that could enhance his lifestyle.
The pertinent answers/beneficial eyewear:
• Vocation vision/least like about current eyewear. Richard divulged that in his job as a radiology technician, he spends four to six hours a day looking at a bank of three computer screens. He said he felt that while he saw quite well in casual situations using his current progressive lenses — his vision with his current glasses remained at 20/20 — he still struggled at work with having a wide enough field of view to clearly see the computer monitors.
As a result, I educated him about the availability of task-specific computer lenses and the wide array of blue light-filtering technologies that could reduce his exposure to high-energy visible light.
• Hobbies. Richard reported he is an avid mountain biker, who rides several times a week across wooded terrain with a local group. This prompted me to ask him how he protected his eyes from sunlight. He responded that, often, due to the shaded wooded trails he rides on, his prescription sunglasses were too dark to navigate these conditions.
Due to Richard’s biking sight issues, I educated him on the advantages of a light-adaptive lens that would adjust to the amount of sunlight present and allow his eyes to perform optimally when going from full sun to shaded conditions on his bike. He was surprised to learn that this technology could be placed in his performance biking frames.
Additionally, Richard said that he was a proud grandparent and was enjoying introducing his grandson to the joys of the outdoors and his love of fishing. This was my in to enlighten him about eyewear that could enhance his fishing hobby. (Most patients are uneducated about the enormous benefits that polarized sunglasses provide.) I simply explained that polarized lenses allow the “good light” we need to see to enter the eye, while blocking the “bad light” reflected from surfaces, such as water or snow, reducing glare, improving safety and enhancing visual comfort.
At the conclusion of the examination, Richard could clearly see his one pair of glasses and non-polarized prescription sunglasses could not provide the comfort and visual clarity that he needs for his lifestyle. In understanding the role that different types of glasses could play in helping to maximize his visual performance throughout the day, he was ready to hear about the options offered in our optical to meet these needs.
Next, I called an optician to the exam room. This allows me to establish the optician as the expert in filling the optical prescription (the same way the pharmacist fills a medical prescription in the pharmacy). We also can have specific conversations around patients’ medical needs and how that pertains to the eyewear prescribed without violating HIPAA in the optical. In Richard’s case, the optician handoff conversation went like this:
What are your vision requirements for your job?
What do you like to do outside of work, in terms of hobbies?
What would you change about your everyday eyewear to make them work better for your hobbies?
What time of day do you experience discomfort with your eyes?
What, if anything, do you do to relieve that discomfort?
How much screen time do you have each day?
How much does your vision fluctuate after looking at your digital screens?
What would you most like to change about your current eye glasses?
“Richard, this is Emily. Emily is my optician; she has years of experience in the optical field and will ensure that your new eyewear provides you with the clearest, sharpest vision possible.”
I gave the optician his prescription and reiterated the benefits discussed with him. (This ensures that the optician knows exactly what the patient and I have discussed and, most importantly, why.):
“Emily, Richard spends about six hours a day focused on multiple computer screens. I’m prescribing a task-specific computer lens that has blue light-filtering technology to protect his eyes and enhance his vision.
In addition, I’m prescribing a light-adaptive lens for his biking glasses. This will help him, as he is going from sunlight to shade while biking.
Finally, I’m prescribing polarized sunwear for him while he’s enjoying fishing with his grandson. He understands that reflections and glare will be dramatically reduced with these lenses.”
From here, the optician typically closes the interaction by saying something along these lines:
“Absolutely Dr. Keene, I’ll be sure that I make sure to mirror the prescription you’ve written to enhance Richard’s vision.”
Sometimes, a patient knowing that he could benefit from one or more products is not enough for him to commit to them. In Richard’s case, and in the case of other patients, the optician facilitates this commitment by:
• Focusing on savings and benefits. The optician references the vision plan and the significant savings the patient will realize today. (Most patients are poorly informed about what their plans cover and feel anxious about how to navigate the plan benefits and options. Staff members simply let patients know that they understand the patient’s plan, and can help):
“Richard, you have XYZ vision plan. It offers you significant benefits, and I’ll be sure we maximize your savings.”
When a patient does not have eyewear coverage, the optician says:
“The savings you receive on multiple pairs are substantial, up to 50% off!! I’ll be sure to work with you to maximize your savings.”
If the patient expresses concerns about affordability, despite this savings, the optician offers Care Credit, a financing provider that allows patients to pay for their purchases in monthly installments with no interest:
“I understand, but we may have a way you can benefit from this eyewear today. We’ve partnered with an industry leader that specializes in the affordability of medical purchases. Specifically, this leader allows for monthly payments with no interest! Would you like to see whether you qualify?”
• Breaking up the purchase. In some instances, patients are unable to commit to purchasing multiple pairs on the day of their exam. At this time, the optician lets them know we can break up their purchase. This was the case with Richard:
“Richard, we can give you 50% off your third pair up to 30 days after today’s purchase. Here’s the gift card you can use on that additional pair.”
We are able to do this because we use the discount that our labs give us for multiple pair sales and pass these savings on to our patients.
Thanks to these patient journey action steps, Richard, among several other patients are benefitting from eyewear they weren’t aware existed. Frame and lens technology is constantly evolving, allowing for us to continue to educate established patients about eyewear that can enhance their lifestyles. Why not consider employing these action steps along your own patients’ journeys through your practice, so you too, can meet all their visual needs?
Following these steps has dramatically increased patient satisfaction and the excitement of multiple pairs in our practice on the same day of service. OM