Patient Communication

Interacting with your current and prospective patients

Even the most clinically skilled young doctor of optometry will have trouble finding success in practice, if his or her communication skills are lacking. Knowing how to listen, how to effectively educate your patients and how to make them feel comfortable in your care are skills that will be of vital importance from the very beginning of your career as a practitioner.

Communication extends beyond the office, when reaching potential patients and drawing them into your practice. Below is a variety of strategies provided by AOA to help you communicate with patients in your practice and community.

Communicating during the examination and beyond

During school, as you’ve honed your clinical skills, you’ve probably given some thought to the way you will interact with patients. When you enter optometric practice, your ability to put your patient at ease and explain diagnoses and procedures, takes on an even greater importance.

Tips include greeting your patient enthusiastically, explaining what’s going on and why tests are necessary, give your patients your undivided attention and reviewing your findings. Encourage feedback and always give patients good news first. Overall, just keep your conversation direct.

Telephone communications—A patient’s first contact with your office usually is by telephone. Patients may call for an appointment or to inquire about your services or fees. The friendly, or unfriendly, manner in which they are greeted and dealt with during this initial phone contact has a significant impact on their impression of your optometry practice.

Appearances and communications—Be sure to consider your office, personnel and personal appearance.

Educating your patients—Taking the time to educate your patients about eye care is a way of communicating your interest in their well-being. AOA publishes a wide range of educational brochures designed to be easy to read and understand. For a free catalog or samples of AOA patient brochures, contact the AOA Order Department at 800.262.2210.

Handling complaints—Learn to regard complaints as opportunities to improve the effectiveness of your communications. Common patient complaints include long waits, high fees, feeling rushed or not feeling listened to. Other complaints include inconvenient hours and location, crowded waiting rooms and poor personal appearance.

Patient profiles—A personal profile of your patients that you compile over several visits can help you assess individual patient needs and judge how much patient education is required. The more information you have about your patients, the more successfully you will communicate with them.

Patient surveys—A patient survey can help you learn about patient needs that are not being met by your practice. Surveys also show your patients that you care and will make them feel like they are an important participant in your practice.

Recall strategies—A good recall system helps patients plan their eye care, regulates your office flow and fills your appointment book, thus growing your practice. Strategies include mail recall, telephone recall, in-office recall, dispensing-related recall for prescriptions, computer-assisted recall and pre-appointments for the patient’s next annual eye health examination.

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How the AOA can help by highlighting career opportunities, assisting with day-to-day operations and more.

 

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A helpful list of tools, resources and opportunities to enhance both your student and optometry career as an AOA member.


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AOA MEMBERSHIP

The American Optometric Association has numerous benefits for its student members, including academic and professional resources.


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