AS A PRACTICE OWNER, I HAVE SEEN HOW PRESBYOPIA HAS had a positive and dramatic impact on my practice. Presbyopia has brought in new patients without advertising because they suddenly have near vision changes. This drive alone has created an opportunity for my practice to educate our patients on the importance of an annual comprehensive eye exam and inform them about the latest products available to fill the gaps in their visual needs. Presbyopia has impacted the products I select, how I educate staff, and our financial bottom line. As a practice owner, embracing presbyopia and becoming familiar with the presbyopia tools available have been practice differentiators.
Here are 4 tips to start embracing presbyopia in an eyecare office.
The Reality of Presbyopia
1 Presbyopia is on the rise and here to stay. The number of patients with presbyopia has dramatically increased over the last decade as the number of Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials have added birthdays and moved into the 40+ category. There has also been an increase in near and intermediate demand with the evolution of computers, tablets, and smartphones. Now more than ever, most of the modern world revolves around various distance, intermediate, and near vision focal points. It is unrealistic to believe that a single solution will fit the needs of every visual demand for patients, and the reality is that most of our patients will require multiple tools on a daily basis to optimize their vision.
I like to think of presbyopia solutions as shoes. Most of us have multiple pairs of shoes for various activities. We have sneakers for athletic endeavors, sandals for beach days, dressy shoes for professional events or date nights, etc. We have shoes to fit the various needs of our day. Our patients likely need different “shoes” (aka presbyopia solutions) to meet the various demands of their daily tasks. They likely need a combination of progressive addition lenses, multifocal contact lenses, and presbyopia drops (like Vuity, 1.25% pilocarpine, Allergan) to maximize their vision potential in various activities. Some patients may even desire more permanent surgical presbyopia solutions. As eyecare providers, we need to have the mindset that this is the reality of presbyopia, and it is fine to talk about multiple presbyopia tools with our patients.
Educate Yourself, Then Your Staff
2 Being able to recommend specific presbyopia tools starts with knowing what tools are available on the market and understanding the mechanisms by which they work. You must educate yourself before you can offer solutions to patients. You can learn about presbyopia innovations through continuing education lectures, articles in industry journals, peer-reviewed studies, industry sponsored programs, webinars, trade shows, and even online forums. There are many resources for learning about new technologies and how they can be applied in a clinical setting to benefit presbyopia patients. Regardless of the modality, it is essential to become informed and stay educated about new presbyopia advancements to make the best recommendations to patients.
After you educate yourself, you must then educate your staff. Patient care really is a team effort, and investing the time to educate your staff on what new presbyopia advancements are available will benefit the practice and your patients in numerous ways. Staff education can happen in a variety of manners. Office meetings, lunch and learns, local society meetings, and webinars are great training options that have little upfront expense. It is also helpful to utilize your local pharmaceutical, optical, and contact lens sales representatives in providing staff training. Sometimes hearing the same information from a different person sinks in differently. Over the years I have found that repetition is key when it comes to staff training. Everyone has a different learning style, and often it takes encountering something multiple times for it to be remembered and understood. Repetitive training is also helpful because it allows for re-discussion of how a current product is working in the office flow or how it was useful in specific patient cases.
Introducing New Presbyopia Innovations
3 There are many ways to introduce new presbyopia innovations to patients in an eyecare practice setting. It could start with a social media post, email blast to existing patients, blog post, or product feature on the practice’s website. Many offices display information in exam or waiting rooms. Some offices record an audio blurb about new presbyopia innovations to play as telephone hold music for patients to hear. I have also seen eyecare practices host a “Presbyopia Patient Night,” in which patients come to a reception-style education event to learn about the new technology and partake in a live demo.
Introducing new innovations also starts with understanding the current gaps in a presbyopia patient’s vision. Identifying the gaps could come in the form of active listening by an optician, a patient questionnaire, or specific history questions asked by a technician. New innovation discussions must also happen between the doctor and patient. Eyecare providers need to proactively talk about presbyopia solutions with a patient and not wait for a patient to bring them up. The saying “You do not know what you do not know” is very applicable in patient care. If we are not educating our patients about new presbyopia innovations, then how can we expect them to be aware that they currently exist within the marketplace? I want all of my presbyopia patients to know they have options, so I usually discuss all 4 presbyopia solution categories with every patient. I tell them they have an option for surgery, glasses, contact lenses, or drops, and that likely they are going to need a combination of these different categories depending on their daily visual demands. Even if they are not a candidate for a certain category, like contact lenses or presbyopia drops, I still let them know the product exists, but they just are not a candidate. This approach lets my patients know I am current with new technology innovations and will make recommendations according to their individualized needs. The possibilities of introducing a new innovation are endless!
Becoming Comfortable with Presbyopia
4 Often it takes practice and time to be fully comfortable understanding where different presbyopia solutions fit within a patient care treatment plan. It also takes experience to know which patients are the right candidates for certain presbyopia tools. Like anything new, you often need to just do it initially and learn from successes and failures. There will not be one perfect solution for every patient, and most patients will require a variety of tools to maximize their vision potential. It will take practice talking about these various tools.
It is an exciting time to treat presbyopia in eye care! We now have different presbyopia tools to offer patients. There has been significant research and development in the realm of presbyopia, and new innovations will continue to emerge. Presbyopia is here to stay, and it is important to be educated about new presbyopia developments, and embrace new innovations to provide our patients with the highest quality of care. ■