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    Virtual eye health and vision examination: Why not?

    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.

    I get excited walking through the technology aisles at the big shows, don’t you?

    The advancements I’ve seen in my relatively short career offer such hope for those with sight-threatening conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration. My astigmatism practically goes away when I use HD spectacle lenses. (And don’t even get me started on the joy of contact lenses! My red eyes and ghost images are a thing of the past.)

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    We really are at a crossroads in eye healthcare. Wouldn’t a virtual exam be ‘just as good’ as a trip to the eye doctor? To today’s busy consumer, how can we justify leisurely sitting in front of a computer or in a kiosk versus an in-office visit that takes sixty plus minutes and includes that awkward part – dilation?

    Listening – A powerful weapon in the battle for clear vision

    While all the benefits of technology implied above are true, they leave out the human touch you and your staff provide. Yes, sophisticated diagnostic instrumentation may have identified the problem in terms of what systems are compromised, generated a manifest refraction, and suggested a treatment plan. Based on the technicians’ notes, you might also enter the exam room with an appropriate plan of action in mind.

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    But up to this point in the examination, you haven’t talked to the person. And while it doesn’t happen very often, it is possible that there may be some additional information that you are unaware of that could cause you to change your mind about what the best course of action should be.

    The savvy practitioner may begin the doctor portion of the exam by saying, “Bill, we’ve taken a look at your visual systems, but before I begin, is there anything about your eyes or your vision you would like for me to be aware of?”

    Generally speaking, there are three things that today’s eyecare practitioner does during his or her time with the patient.

    1.     Listen to confirm. Confirm that there is no other information that could cause you to change your decision about the appropriate action to take.

    2.     Make a strong recommendation.

    3.     Gain the patient’s agreement.

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    Once you have listened to the patient’s response to your opening question and confirmed (using more great technology and your marvelous decision-making skills) that there is no reason not to proceed with the course of treatment you have planned, discuss the situation with the objective of gaining the patient’s agreement.

    Keys to gaining agreement

    Donna Suter
    Donna Suter is president of Suter Consulting Group.

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