The unique events of 2020 and 2021 have changed all of us in some way, and that includes our patients. Health is on everyone’s mind more than ever. Research has shown that half of U.S. residents report that their health changed in some way during the pandemic, and almost as many want their health care professional to ask them how their life has changed. How can we prepare to care for patients with new health concerns and expectations?
The Contact Lens Institute, a trade association that represents the interests of research-oriented manufacturers of safe and effective contact lenses and lens care products, has launched the See Tomorrow professional and consumer initiative. “See Tomorrow examines changes in Americans’ lives over the past months, celebrates how eyecare professionals and consumers are looking forward instead of back, and explores why eyecare, including proper contact lens wear, is central to helping achieve bright futures.” Part of the program is a webinar, “Your Patients’ Psyches Have Changed. Has Your Practice?” featuring human behavior expert Colette Carlson. The presentation can help us understand how patient perceptions and beliefs have changed and how eyecare professionals’ response to those changes can improve patient care and grow the business. It’s available at seetomorrownow.com.
Ms. Carlson notes that our people skills are of the utmost importance in a competitive market, and our patients are looking for a personal connection with their caregivers. She reminds us that it takes people only seven to nine seconds to decide if they want to work with us, so first impressions count. We need to “lead with warmth,” a warm welcome and giving our patients time to tell us about themselves. This shows our patients we respect them and influences their trust in our competence to care for them. When we follow that lead with self-awareness of how we come across to patients, providing the best products for their vision needs becomes “serving, not selling.” We connect with patients by asking what our patients need, want and value, listening to their answers and giving those things to them.
Some changes in patient behavior post-pandemic will be long-lasting, Ms. Carlson tells us. Patients will be more careful about their investments in time and money. They want a connection with and trust in their health care providers. More than ever, they want to tell us how their lives have changed—so ask, then listen.
• Linda Conlin
Pro to Pro Managing Editor