By Amy Hellem
You know you’re doing something right when you’re no longer surprised when a patient reaches out to hug you. It’s happened to Erin Sullivan, OD, more than once after fitting patients with SynergEyes custom contact lenses. “They are just elated,” she says.
Dr. Sullivan is not alone. Plenty of her colleagues have likewise found that specialty lenses are a particularly effective way of setting a practice apart. Whether you present custom designed contact lenses to select patients or go all-in by mentioning them to everyone who walks in the door, how you position yourself as a specialty contact lens specialist can help you differentiate your practice from your competitors.
The following strategies have proven to be effective ways to show off your skills and stand out from the crowd.
Be a Problem Solver
Patients are used to making compromises, but to really distinguish your skills and services, show them they don’t have to. Here are some groups you can start astounding with a simple lens change.
- Current multifocal wearers. One of the easiest ways to make a great impression is to offer a better solution to current multifocal wearers. “If they have any low amounts of astigmatism and just aren’t getting the clarity they would like out of their regular soft multifocals, or if they are even in glasses and want another option, [Duette Progressive] is a perfect lens choice,” says Dr. Sullivan. In fact, she turns to Duette Progressive even when a patient doesn’t have astigmatism. It’s helped her deliver the benefit of improved optics to patients who seem unimpressed or are mildly dissatisfied with their current correction.
- Current GP wearers. Joe Vansuch, OD, turns to Duette to save GP wearers from seemingly endless refits. “You just have an immediate sense of gratification when you put [Duette] on a patient and they can see again for the very first time without having to come back and come back … it’s just simpler,” he says.
- The hopeless patient. Todd Pfeil, OD, says SynergEyes lenses have helped him set his practice apart by allowing him to meet the needs of defeated patients who have resolved themselves to never being able to wear contact lenses. “Those are the patients that I like to see come through because those are the patients where we can make the biggest impact,” he says. The practice benefits are enormous when you can look a hopeless patient in the eye and say, “we can take care of you.”
- The patient with so-so vision. Brian Brightman, OD, gets outstanding feedback from patients when he fits UltraHealth lenses on patients who were previously in glasses or were wearing soft contact lenses. “They instantly notice the improved visual acuity,” he says. Alternately, if the patient is moving from a GP lens, they notice a comfort improvement going to the UltraHealth lens, he adds.
Put Better Options on the Table
While it can be an unfair assessment tool in many cases, patients often judge their doctor by the quality of their own outcomes. In other words, if they wouldn’t describe their vision as “spectacular,” chances are they won’t characterize you that way either. Consider the following strategies aimed at positioning you and your practice as far better than “fine.”
- Offer the best. “Our philosophy in the office is to give you the best visual outcome that we can,” says Brian Dembo, OD, PC. Dr. Dembo doesn’t expect great things from soft multifocals in astigmatic patients. Duette Progressive, on the other hand, allows him to provide patients with the best possible vision that they can have.
- Let patients experience it for themselves. Duette Progressive is the closest to optimal vision that you can get out of a multifocal progressive, says Brooke Kaplan, OD. “As soon as [patients] hear that and experience the lens for themselves, then you have got a patient for life.”
- Pay special attention to patients with higher visual demands. Athletes, in particular, can benefit tremendously from a hybrid platform. “In order to start helping the athletes see better, you have got to put them in a product that will give them their maximum vision,” says Alan Berman, OD. “The patient’s response to it is so happy and so incredible,” he adds.
- Consider making specialty more mainstream. Golie Roshandel Keovan, OD, takes custom lens prescribing a step further and has made Duette her first lens of choice. “I’m putting most of my patients in this lens … I offer it to everyone,” she says. “For me, it has been a practice builder.”
- Ask probing questions. When asking patients if they are satisfied with their vision, don’t just accept “fine” for an answer. By asking questions like “what would you like to improve” you’ll likely uncover opportunities to make them happier than they thought possible.
Demonstrate What Makes Your Recommendations Superior
Prescribing custom lenses automatically puts you in another category—beyond what can be achieved with an off-the-shelf commodity product. However, it’s important to drive this message home with patients and clearly convey why this makes you so different. Always highlight the following obvious truths regarding custom hybrid lenses.
- Reap the benefits of trendy terminology. Patients know and love the term hybrid, so use it to explain the benefits of SynergEyes lenses. “I love the term hybrid because, that is exactly what it is… taking the best of both options and combining it into one,” says Kaplan. Let patients know about the benefits of GPs and soft lenses and then describe how SynergEyes has married the two technologies to provide an overall better experience.
- Show them how “cool” hybrid lenses are. Dr. Keovan suggests you show patients what a hybrid lens looks like, demonstrating how part of it is soft. Then, flip it around and give it a tap, showing them the rigid portion. This delivers a “wow” factor, she says.
- Focus your conversation on the benefits of customization. Patients take great ownership when they see that you’re giving them a solution that is tailored specifically to their unique needs and ocular structure, says Dr. Pfeil. “We are not just taking a mass-produced product to apply to their eye.” Spell this out for patients so that they truly appreciate that you’re not just pulling a lens off the shelf that could work for just about anyone else who walked through the door.
Build Your Practice
SynergEyes lenses are a great practice builder, concludes Dr. Kaplan. “Your patients will be happier than they have ever been in contacts.” As a result, you can’t help but stand out.
Dr. Sullivan agrees they have made a huge difference in her practice as well: “It just sets you apart and I get referral, after referral, after referral.”
Positioning yourself as a specialty contact lens specialist can help you differentiate your practice from your competitors, and wow your patients too.
Amy Hellem is an independent writer and researcher who specializes in ophthalmology and optometry. Previously, she served as editor-in-chief of Review of Optometry and Review of Cornea & Contact Lenses and directed the custom publishing division for Review of Ophthalmology.