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    Stop cheating your patients

    Strong recommendations matter for the best patient care

    Many optometrists are cheating their patients. This cheating comes from a good place—they are trying to help. This very common paradox comes into play when a well-intentioned doctor stops short of making strong recommendations in order to not sound “salesy.”

    Here is a common example: A 48-year-old computer worker is complaining of eye strain and headaches after a few hours at the computer. She uses the computer all day at work, and at the end of the day she can't see well enough to drive home. She has been prescribed glasses before but “isn’t going to pay those ridiculous prices” when she can get by with the drugstore glasses that she has always used. (She likes to leave pairs lying all over the house.) This patient also thinks the $10 copay should be waived this year because we didn’t tell her about it before she arrived.  

    More practice management: Why it's OK to be bossy

    We all know that she needs high-quality progressive lenses with AR treatment, but only half of us are confident enough to tell her. And half of the ones who will tell her will list it as one of her options. When we dillydally around this topic, we are cheating our patients. 

    Which is better: one or two?

    Here are two scenarios of what could be said to this patient at the conclusion of her exam. Read them both, and decide which one is best. Neither one may be perfect, but please choose one.

    1. “One thing you could do is wear progressive lenses, and you could add an anti-reflective treatment to them that might help with some of the strain at the computer. But the progressives have only a little part for the computer and are hard to get used to sometimes, especially at the computer, and that AR is hard to keep clean. Plus, they are expensive, and your insurance won't pay for them.  Because your distance vision is pretty good without glasses, you could just keep on using those drugstore glasses. And for that eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.”


    2. “In our office, everyone who uses the computer for more than three hours a day gets a prescription for glasses to help with the strain and damage it can cause. In your current job, you far exceed that limit. Our eyes simply aren’t designed for that type of work, and those drugstore glasses are not enough for you at work. We have known for many years how much strain can come from hours of near demand, but new studies are showing damage from the type of blue light that comes from our computers and smart phones. For you, I am prescribing a progressive lenses specifically designed for computer users, and they will have a coating that will help with eye strain and protect you from blue light. It is important that you use these at work. They will help with your headaches and other symptoms."  

    More practice management: 7 things you can do this week to be more productive

    Next: Which is better?

    Michael Rothschild, OD
    Dr. Rothschild is the Director of Practice Management at Revolution EHR.


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