Communication extends beyond the office when reaching potential patients and drawing them into your practice.
Interacting with your current and prospective patients
Even the most clinically skilled 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.
Communicating during the examination and beyond
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 successful 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.
Concentrate on your patients. We’ll take care of the rest.
AOAExcel sources and provides products and services that excel in helping doctors of optometry practice smarter and more efficiently.
AOA and AFOS: ‘Cut through the noise’ and empower licensed doctors of optometry to provide greater access to care to veterans
Eye care is the third-most requested health service by veterans at the VA—and doctors of optometry provide the majority of that care. Yet, as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers new national standards of practice for more than 50 health professions at its facilities, optometrists are making a winning case for expanding their role at an understaffed VA and are galvanizing against baseless attacks from organized medicine, ophthalmology and a few unbending legislators.
September is Paraoptometric Appreciation Month, celebrating optometric practice staff around the country. Two paraoptometric professionals who provide eye care as active-duty veterans in the United States Armed Forces share their stories.