Many patients view their relationship with their optometrist through a narrow lens. They make appointments when they need a new prescription or when they are experiencing discomfort, but they do not turn to their eye care professional for much more.
Patients may not recognise the advantages of being more engaged in their ocular health, or even know how to be more engaged.
This offers enormous opportunities for ECPs. Every chapter of life presents new vision-related issues and concerns for a patient—and new opportunities for ECPs to help. The more effectively ECPs can guide patients through milestones, the more valuable they will be to patients and the more loyalty they will inspire. Capturing this loyalty for the benefit of both the patient and your business hinges on having an effective life-cycle communication plan in place.
Know the milestones
The best communication plans start with a clear understanding of the various stages and milestones of the patient life cycle. For instance, patients who are students or those who spend long hours in front of a screen for work may be experiencing symptoms of digital eye fatigue. Patients over 40 may be struggling with impending presbyopia. Patients over 60 are at higher risk for cataracts.
Map the life cycle stages to appropriate recommendations, services, procedures, and products, such as contact lenses that address the symptoms of digital eye fatigue. Optimise this list to emphasise the specialties, services, and strengths of your practice. This will serve as your blueprint for when to engage with patients on new topics, and what your strategic goals are when you do. From there, you can develop talking points and determine what sorts of marketing materials to have ready for each stage.
Customise and optimise
The most effective ways to execute a long-term patient communication plan will vary, depending on the goals, patient preferences and resources of each practice. Is it feasible to communicate with your patients on a monthly basis? Or is quarterly outreach the most your staff and budget can handle? Do you have patients who only want to hear from you when they are due for an appointment? What types of communication tend to generate more appointments for you? Do you have any spectacles-only patients who have inquired about contact lenses but have yet to try them?
Using a patient relationship management system, practices can more effectively track patients in order to tailor content and communication frequency to optimise return on investment. No matter where each patient is on their journey, you can position yourself as their go-to source of solutions to meet their optical needs.