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    How to increase your optical capture rate

    Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Eye Catching: Let's Chat,” a blog series featuring contributions from members of the ophthalmic community. These blogs are an opportunity for ophthalmic bloggers to engage with readers with about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Donna Suter, president of Suter Consulting Group. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Ophthalmology Times or UBM Medica.

    Industry research on optical sales confirms that lifestyle dispensing generates not only higher average revenue per patient, but also increases patient satisfaction. Could this tactic boost sales in your office? What does it look like when properly executed?

    Simply put, lifestyle dispensing means that the doctor recommendation and the eyewear consultant’s reinforcement of the doctor’s recommendation focuses on solving the patient’s most annoying visual acuity problem.

    For example, my most visually challenging situation is in front of a computer late in the day or any time I am on a tiny digital device writing emails responses to doctor inquiries, composing client reports, or crafting articles for publishing venues—like this blog. That’s a pretty written-about doctor/optician patient-presentation, right?

    Unfortunately, I have a very restrictive vision plan linked to my medical insurance. What this means to my eyecare provider is that he and his team must be prepared to answer any questions about payments while educating me about the best lens options for my stated problem.

    I suggest using a lensguide. This is a printed brochure or nicely laid out one-sheet document on your letterhead. Either way, this patient-friendly educational brochure generates a conversation with the patient that links patient lifestyle to a best spectacle lens recommendation.

    This begins in pretesting. Clinic technicians should be trained to collect visual needs information: how patients use their eyes, etc.

                -Establish the patient's vocation and hobbies.

    -Relate an enhancement in acuity and the comfort of the patient's vision to lens technology options.

    The technician may or may not verbalize these observations. The technician always circles blocks of copy in the lensguide  that would enhance vision. The technician then gives the marked document to the patient when he or she is seated in the exam room. NOTE: The document briefly explains all the practice’s most recommended lenses.

    The technician invites the patient to read about the circled spectacle lens technology as he or she waits for the doctor in the exam room.

    As the patient reads about the lens features that the technician marked, the patient self-educates. By the time that the doctor enters the room, the patient has a rudimentary understanding of how prescription eyewear leads to clearer vision in a variety of situations. The idea that your office will be creating a visual system designed just for the patient and his or her individual visual and lifestyle needs is beginning to take root.

    To review, all the technician does is mark in a brochure what kind of spectacle lens the patient is currently using and adds an option that might solve the patient’s acuity issues. Then, the doctor continues by marking off the lens options the optical staff should demonstrate to the patient.

    If you decide to create your own lensguide, pick descriptive names for lens options. This creates a better picture in the patient’s mind than technical ones. For example, “thin and light” or “featherweight” attract patients' interest more than “high-index” or “polycarbonate.”

    It’s also important for the doctor and optician to offer general guidelines for what type of “best” options are appropriate for which visual lifestyle issues.

    Let's role play

    Donna Suter
    Donna Suter is president of Suter Consulting Group.

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