Five Ways We Elevate the Patient Experience

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A month before our wedding, my husband and I purchased an optometry practice from a retiring OD. My husband is an engineer by trade and neither of us had owned a business, so the learning curve was steep! But we were excited about the opportunity to leverage his technical mind and my optometric background to create an elevated experience for our patients.

Not Just a Place to Get Glasses
From the beginning, our vision was to create an environment that patients viewed as more than just a place to get new glasses. While a dynamic and comprehensive optical selection is vital, patient education is another differentiator for our practice. Patients often receive or come in with a diagnosis that they don’t understand, let alone know how to manage, so we show them diagrams and pictures and explain in laymen’s terms their prognosis, its implications, and our treatment plan. We go over the different types of lenses and why one might be better suited to their specific requirements, and we talk to them about the connection between their eye health and other health conditions they may be experiencing. We even extended the length of our eye exams so patients can get all their questions answered without feeling rushed—they leave feeling empowered and invested in their care, knowing we are a partner on their healthcare journey.

It’s All About Who You Know
An important component of that partnership is the network of professionals I have established in other areas of healthcare. In optometry school, I took a class called interprofessional education (IPE), where we collaborated with students from a wide variety of healthcare fields on the diagnosis and treatment of specific patient cases. It was enlightening to learn about all the specialties available, how the roles fit together to form a complete healthcare team, and why it’s important to establish relationships with experts in different fields. While our scope of practice continues to increase, there are times as optometrists when we need to refer patients to specialists in other areas, and it’s extremely beneficial to us and our patients to have that network readily available.

Give Them What They Want
Patients love picking out new frames, and we know that the more they like their glasses, the more likely they are to wear them! So, patients are excited to learn that we’re a VSP Premier Edge practice and they can maximize their benefits in our office. In fact, the Premier Edge indicator on the VSP website is what brings many of them in for the first time. To help patients choose the glasses they love and will love wearing, we arrange our optical by frame type—for example, petite frames in one area and larger ones in another. With popular Marchon/Altair brands for every category on our frame board, patients get what they want and get the savings offered by those brands.  

Moving to the Modern Age
Since we bought the practice, we have been focused on rejuvenating every aspect of the patient experience—from implementing online booking and electronic health records, to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment. VSP has been extremely supportive of us on that journey, walking us through where the practice has been historically, where we can take it, and what changes we can make along the way. As a Premier Edge practice, we’ve leveraged partnerships with companies like ZEISS enabling us to affordably stock our exam lanes with sophisticated technology that benefits the practice and the patients.

Happy Staff, Happy Patients
Throughout my career, I’ve said to myself on more than one occasion, “If I were the boss, I would never do X, Y, or Z.” I don’t want people to dread coming to work on Monday or worry about dealing with a difficult doctor. At the end of the day, we’re all humans, living to be happy and provide for our families, so it’s important to me that my staff likes being here. We’re always laughing; we have monthly events to get out of the office and get to know each other; and it shows. It’s a nice place to work, we like being here together, and patients feel that.

A favorite quote of mine is, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” As Eye See It, opening a new practice that offered the patient experience we wanted was certainly daunting. But today, as we celebrate one year in business and prepare to launch our rebrand, I’m grateful and proud that we played the game.
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