As optometrists, we care first and foremost about the health of our patients’ eyes. For many, it’s why we got into the profession in the first place.
However, optometrists have to worry about so many other issues in today’s world - from management decisions, to what technology to use, to how to price things to stay competitive. It’s a lot to think about.
But if we want our patients to focus on their health, we need to as well. We need to bring compliance back into the conversation with our patients in a meaningful way.
One of the simplest things we can do for compliance is educate our patients. Somewhere our lives got so busy and our schedules so full, that we forget that most of our patients only come in once, maybe twice, a year. We need to be constantly weaving education into our conversations so that the limited amount of time we have with patients is instilling the vital piece of why certain procedures are important. The more they understand the importance, the more likely they are to take it seriously themselves and come in on a compliant basis. You also can educate them about Rollens wrap-a-round lenses, which they can take with them after dilation. In addition to using our sunglasses to protect their eyes that day, they can keep them in their vehicle’s glove box, so they always have a spare pair of glasses that provide UV protection.
Truly caring about your patients is key here. Your patients are smart and can tell when you’re talking about something just as a wind up to a sales pitch. Slow down your tone and look them right in the eye. Resist the temptation to be writing on a chart or typing in your practice software. Treat them like a human being that you truly care about and they’ll understand the importance of what you’re communicating to them.
Remember that part about how patients only come in once a year for exams? Think about how busy your own life gets and how many things you know are important, but life just gets in the way sometimes. Your patients are just like you in this regard, so get reminders out to them throughout the year about the importance of eye health and caring for their contacts or glasses in a healthy way. Social media, email newsletters and good old-fashioned snail mail all allow you to do this in an effective way!
Switch Your Words
Let’s face it: no one likes the word “compliance.” It reminds us all of getting reprimanded by our parents, the principal or even the IRS. Instead, focus on storytelling and speak in everyday words. Avoid overtly technical and medical terms that mean nothing emotionally to a patient. Focus on words that have a positive connotation rather than ones that are associated with fear and guilt.
Compliant patients are usually healthy patients who come back year after year to continue keeping their eyes healthy. Not only that, they are ones who tell their friends about the eye doctor who they feel truly cares for them. These are the types of patients you want in your practice and the ones that you can have as you build a practice centered on compliance!