PATIENT COMMUNICATIONS: FINDING THE BALANCE

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Sue E. Lowe OD, FCOVD, FAAO, is a member and past president of the Wyoming Optometric Association and among the 18,000 practices 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 (publisher of Optometric Office) supports Think About Your Eyes as a media partner and provides space for this monthly guest editorial.

If we were to add up the amount of correspondence we receive from businesses, both via snail mail and email, I imagine more than half would be unwanted and deleted or tossed upon receipt. As advocates for our patients’ vision (and thus overall) health, we have the challenge of reminding our patients of the importance of caring for their vision, but reminding them in a way that is engaging and informative, not annoying and repetitive.

THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
Patient communications should occur throughout the year, not just as a reminder for the annual eye exam. Reminding patients that their vision is part of their everyday life is key.

My office uses an automated email system to streamline and manage our patient outreach. When using these systems, it’s important to ensure the communication itself is relevant to the patient’s life. We send birthday emails and New Year’s greetings.

We also reach out when a current event is relevant to vision health. For example, the path of totality for the solar eclipse in August covered much of the area where my patients live, so we sent out an email with “eclipse tips” to further remind people of their vision health.

UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
Optometrists have a unique opportunity at the end of the year to remind patients of the importance of an annual eye exam. Many patients have flexible spending funds, which expire at the end of the calendar year. An annual eye exam at which they can purchase new glasses or sunglasses or replenish their supply of contact lenses is a great way to use up lingering funds. A reminder email in November or December can help bring them in.

Of course, nothing replaces the conversations we can have with patients while they’re in our offices. Building a solid relationship is important to learn more about their health habits and the impact those habits have on their vision health.

Think About Your Eyes ensures that patients are made aware of the importance of an annual eye exam through advertising, social media engagement and the news outlets our patients and potential patients interact with. Overall, it supports our profession. Consider this your end-of-year reminder to support Think About Your Eyes in 2018.

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