Success of a myopia management clinic is dependent on recruiting patients to pursue interventions such as orthokeratology and soft multifocal lenses. It would be nice if we had a steady stream of patients coming through our doors requesting these therapies; however, most patients and their families are unaware that these treatments exist, and even fewer understand the importance of proactive myopia care enough to pursue it. As such, it is critical for practitioners to take an active role in establishing demand for myopia management in their practices.
Education Is Key
Whether you plan to recommend proactive myopia management or not, the family of every young myope whom you examine should understand several basic concepts.
- Nearsightedness usually manifests due to excessive lengthening of the eye and generally progresses during childhood (Flitcroft, 2012).
- Traditional glasses and contact lenses correct vision but do not influence the progression of myopia, and higher levels of myopia increase the risk for future eye disease (Flitcroft, 2012; Huang et al, 2016).
- Safe and effective methods to slow myopia progression are available (Huang et al, 2016), and patients and their families should know that you offer these interventions at your clinic.
While these concepts sound quite basic, it is important to remember that most patients do not arrive at your office with an understanding of myopia beyond its visual implications. As such, if we fail to properly educate families, we cannot expect to see a demand for myopia management services.
Fortunately, when parents are properly counseled, the vast majority express interest in learning more about proactive approaches to myopia care. At that point, it is simply a matter of conveying your recommendations and executing your treatment protocol.
Facilitate word-of-mouth referrals from existing patients by ensuring that your established patients have a five-star experience each time that they see you. I will usually hand a few of my business cards to a child’s parents and remind them that we are happy to see any friends or family members who might benefit from our services. Parents of new patients referred by word of mouth often already have some understanding of the concept of myopia management, which makes it even easier to recruit these patients into your program.
You can also drive demand by establishing relationships with other healthcare practitioners in your area. For example, set aside time to meet with the three or four pediatricians whose offices are closest to yours, and educate them on myopia. This can generate a valuable referral source with just a little effort on the front end. Make sure to follow up with a brief summary of your mutual patients’ visits.
Keep your marketing strategy for myopia simple, and use it as a tool to drive patients and families to ask about myopia in the exam room. “Did you know?” content on social media can be an effective way to encourage parents to ask about myopia management.
Some offices print up “Ask us about myopia” signage for exam rooms to increase interest in these services. Remember that, ultimately, it is your education and recommendations in the exam room that will have the biggest impact on creating demand for your myopia management services.
It is my hope that some day, most patients and families will arrive at our office already aware of myopia management. They may even expect to be offered these myopia treatments. In the meantime, it is important to remember that most patients are not aware of these technologies. With a little bit of planning and the right tools, you can establish the demand for these myopia management services and have a big impact on the future of your young myopes. CLS
To obtain references for this article, please visit www.clspectrum.com/references and click on document #313.