Set your practice up for success in 2022
We still have not yet seen the end of COVID-19, and eye care practices are still trying to find their footing. But being aware of and responsive to these trends can help keep your practice ahead of the curve in 2022.
Trend #1: Attracting new patients to sustain profits
Profits for eye care practices will begin to drop at two to four times the current rate, predicted Dan D. Chambers, chief administrative officer at the Key-Whitman Eye Center in Dallas. In a typical practice with average overhead, this will require a significant increase in patient volume to offset. What are some ways to bring new patients in the door?
Using social media, especially to proactively educate patients about risks and clear up misconceptions, can be an effective way to engage and attract new patients.
Social media can be an inexpensive and effective way to engage new patients. Nearly half of surveyed eye care practices have Facebook or Twitter, but only 30% of them post at least once a week, and many more post less frequently than that. Improving your practice’s social media outreach is not hard, but it does require planning. For tips, see our post: Ideas and Strategies for Your 2022 Social Media Calendar.
Another source of new patients are those who think online is fine – for vision tests, purchasing eyewear and ordering contact lenses. As one eye care professional said, “The pandemic has accelerated online eyewear purchasing by the consumer. Convincing them that we offer much more value for their dollars is a top challenge.” You can start by clearing up these five eye health misconceptions for patients.
Ultimately, patients won’t schedule an appointment if they don’t know they need to. Be sure you’re proactive about communicating growing vision risks that have cropped up during COVID, such as the impact of online learning on young patients’ eyes.
Trend #2: Practices continuing to do more with less
A recent eye care business report found that just 8% of eye care professionals in the U.S. saw no negative financial impact from the pandemic in 2021. Practices looking to bounce back in 2022 are taking proactive steps to address this impact, such as tightening their patient scheduling. The report found that 60% of practices surveyed now book less time between appointments.
That means it’s more important than ever to streamline your processes and make use of the time before and after appointments with asynchronous communication strategies. Consider sending new patients an email with Rendia videos welcoming them to your practice and telling them what to expect during the visit, along with any intake forms they can complete before they come in. This not only saves time later, but it also engages and educates patients before they’ve even stepped through your door.
After the visit, reinforce the information discussed in the exam by sending a follow-up email with educational resources about their condition, treatment options, and medication instructions. This will improve adherence, help cut down on unnecessary follow-up calls to your office and allow patients to share the information with their families.
Practices short on time and employees are using Rendia videos to educate patients and train staff.
In addition to having less time, many practices have less staff. Some practices are dealing with staffing shortages by hiring people without experience and training them. Ophthalmologist Dr. Cynthia Matossian used Rendia to help train new eye care technicians. “These videos are great tools to explain anatomy, terminology and especially difficult-to-conceptualize topics such as the angle of the eye,” she said. “As a result, our techs were well-trained to convey accurate information to our patients.”
Trend #3: Integrating virtual care
One upside to the pandemic is that more patients and practices embraced telehealth. Virtual visits allowed patients to access health care without exposing themselves to unnecessary risk, and enabled doctors to continue to see patients. Many patients appreciated the convenience of online visits, and some doctors liked the option of being able to talk to their patients without the barrier of masks. “I actually find [telemedicine appointments] to be a more engaging and personalized experience than being live in an exam room with a patient,” said Lance Kugler, M.D.
More practices will continue to use telehealth and integrate technology – like Rendia’s Exam Mode and Outcome Simulator – into both online and in-person patient visits.
Importantly, many realized telehealth isn’t an either-or option. While it may have started out as an emergency replacement for in-person care, many practices will continue to integrate technology into patient care, such as through a hybrid appointment model, in 2022. Our customers have found that a hybrid appointment model is the most efficient way to efficiently handle patient volume while maximizing practice growth.
With telehealth here to stay, providers are faced with the challenge of continuing to offer effective and personalized health care services to their patients online. Tools like Rendia’s Exam Mode and Outcome Simulator make it easy.
Exam Mode, which can be used in person or by sharing your screen online, allows eye surgeons to show patients realistic, interactive, 3D views of the eye’s anatomy, illustrate condition progression, and demonstrate the benefits of various treatment options.
For elective procedures, Outcome Simulator is a helpful tool that works the same way for a virtual visit as it does in person. You or your surgical counselors can show your refractive surgery patients what they can expect in terms of benefits and potential side effects, reducing their uncertainty and enabling them to make an informed decision.
Want to discuss a personalized strategy for your practice’s growth in 2022? Schedule a call with our team.