Three ways to focus on your strengths

3 ways to focus on your strengths

By Chad Fleming, O.D., AOAExcelTM Business & Career Coach

Sometimes ODs overcommit to cases that would best be handled by another OD. The current state of optometry requires ODs to be knowledgeable in a much broader scope than 25 years ago. However, the most powerful and successful practices are those laser focused on their strengths.

Are you going to lose patients by referring to your colleagues? Most likely not.

Finding and focusing on your strengths will not only propel your practice forward but also will fulfill your satisfaction as a doctor. Here are three ways to get started.

1. Communicate.
Become the expert in your area of interest. My dry eye practice has grown exponentially over the past seven to eight years as I have focused on communicating dry eyes to many of my patients—even the healthy ones. I evaluate the health of a patient's eyes by looking for such conditions as undiagnosed dry eye. I tell patients, "You do not appear to have dry eye today, but I do encourage you to wear sunglasses regularly and watch for these symptoms." Communication is the first step to tweets, posts and comments from patients about the services you offer.

2. Refer to other ODs.
There might be optometrists in your area who are more comfortable than you are at various areas of pathology. A good friend of mine who recently took his board certification test commented on how much more comfortable he was with the anterior segment section than the posterior segment. Are you going to lose patients by referring to your colleagues? Most likely not. I frequently refer for vision therapy, and amazingly those patients return to my care for glasses, eye disease management and contact lens checks. If you find you are losing patients by referring to other optometrists, consider finding someone else to refer to. There are many great ODs looking to partner with other ODs.

3. Know your limits.
Recently, I had a patient who had undergone multiple refractive surgeries and was unsuccessfully fit in RGP contact lenses at another office. He came to me for a second opinion regarding his options. After much time and effort communicating with the patient, I decided that he would be best treated with a scleral contact lens. I was tempted to jump into scleral lens fits, but decided someone who has not only fit them but also worked with them routinely would be the best option for the patient. Together we decided his case was difficult enough that he wanted to see an expert in this area. I started researching for someone who could "fit" them and who also had a growing referral base of patients they were fitting. Patients respect you for knowing your limits. I told the patient that if he had been a dry eye patient, I would be the one for him to see; similar to me referring him out, doctors refer dry eye patients in. Don't forget to always plant seeds.

Treating everything does not mean you are successful in treating everything. If referring to other ODs is something you are unwilling to do, consider hiring an associate that complements your clinical practice. 

June 6, 2014

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