COMMUNICATING WITH PATIENTS IN THE DIGITAL AGE

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At one time, optometrists had standard means of patient communications and marketing: an office phone line, an ad in the Yellow Pages and word of mouth. Now, patients turn to digital channels for everything, from finding a doctor to scheduling appointments and communicating with office staff.

So, we must embrace digital communications as well. In the Information Age, computers and mobile devices represent a treasure trove of opportunities for reaching out to patients. The checklist of tools for building relationships keeps expanding.

Office Website
This starts with an office website. A website not only provides basic information that current patients need, but prospective patients can access it via search engines. So, a patient who may not have been looking for a specific office may end up in yours. You should also learn more about strategic search engine optimization, which will allow your website to being seen by more patients.

In the Information Age, computers and mobile devices represent a treasure trove of opportunities for reaching out to patients.

Think About Your Eyes
Another way to improve your online presence is to buy a listing on Think About Your Eyes (ThinkAboutYourEyes.com). The online doctor locator can drive patients to your office website, and it can dramatically enhance your ranking in local Google or Bing searches. With more than three million visits to Think About Your Eyes, the doctor locator has proven to be a resource for patients and doctors alike.

Social Media
A presence on social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, can be a powerful way to engage new patients and communicate with existing ones. Whether it’s a celebration of National Sunglasses Day on June 27 or a reminder to patients that “allergy eyes” could, in fact, be a sign of something more serious, social media is an easy way to reach patients where they are already spending time.

Digital tasks
Patients have become used to performing daily tasks, from buying groceries to ordering lattes, through their computers or mobile devices. We need to offer similar options. For example, online appointment scheduling can improve your overall exam numbers, text reminders can reduce no-shows, and online payment options can reduce accounting overhead.

Patient communication will continue to evolve. As optometrists and business owners, we can use new technology to build relationships with patients. These relationships, of course, are the foundation for improving our patients’ eye health and vision care—and the success of our practices.

Mario Contaldi, OD, is a member of the Texas Optometric Association and among the 18,000 doctors listed on the Think About Your Eyes online locator. Think About Your Eyes is a nationwide public awareness initiative promoting the importance of an annual eye exam and overall vision health. First Vision Media Group supports Think About Your Eyes as a media partner.

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