When it comes to running an eye care practice, getting patients to come back can be one of the most difficult tasks to achieve. Even though vision loss is viewed as one of the most detrimental health outcomes, the average patient visits an optometry practice every 2-4 years and typically, when they have an issue. However, the new year is a great time to re-engage with patients. Keshav Bhat, MS, OD, shared his recommendations for renewed recall protocols in an article for Review of Optometric Business.
New Year, Renewed Benefits
As mentioned, the start of the new year is a great time to reach out to patients. Some patients may have been waiting for their vision benefits to reset before returning, but scheduling their exam may have slipped their mind. A reminder communication, whether it’s an email, postcard, or text message, in January or February is a great way to get these patients into your practice. While the message may focus on vision benefits, you can send this communication toa number of different patient types, including:
- Any patient that’s overdue for an eye exam
- Patients who may have been recommended a procedure or care protocol that didn’t follow through
- Patients who tried to get into the office in December but were unable to get on the books
- New patients looking to check “get to an eye doctor” off their to-do list
- This could be any leads gathered from the year before, referrals from other patients, or a blanket message through your lead-generating efforts like social media or digital ads.
Consider a Recall Campaign
The new year is also a great time to implement new protocols. One of these new protocols could (and should) be a recall campaign. This is more than just the initial effort mentioned above. This campaign is intended to target any overdue patient who may have “fallen through the cracks” in the past 3-5 years and keep any further patients from falling through those same cracks.
Build a Communication Strategy
First things first, you’ll need to decide how you’d like to reach out to patients who haven’t visited in the last 15-18 months over the last half decade. Most people nowadays prefer email as their main method of communication with practitioners. Craft a message to these patients who haven’t visited recently and link your online appointment creator to make it an easy process for these patients. If you don’t have an online appointment scheduler, you can include your phone number for call-ins.
After sending the initial communication, you’ll need to determine what the follow-up will look like for those patients who inevitably don’t respond and when you’ll send it. Dr. Bhat suggests sending a postcard as a follow-up about a month or so after sending an email. One important detail he stresses for this effort is to add “return service requested” to the postcards. This may cost a little more, but it will return any piece that’s delivered to an incorrect address, helping you update your records. If you are booked in January, you can wait until February or March to start this recall program. It’s important that your communications strategy is well thought out.
Use New Practice Technologies as Additional Draws
Another message that can be added to your recall campaign is introducing any new technologies you’ve added to the practice. This can be a great draw for both new and existing patients, and it shows that your practice is continuously evolving to offer the very best care. One of the largest growing industries in the country is the supplement category. The supplement category is expected to grow another 8.9% year over year between 2022 and 2030, and 81% of supplement purchases in 2021 were in “off-line” markets, which includes practitioners.
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Getting back in touch with your patients should be your top resolution this new year. Implementing a communications strategy can help reconnect with “lost” patients and keep others from falling through the cracks. Sharing “what’s new” in your practice can give patients extra motivation to make the appointment. By partnering with EyePromise, you’ll have an opportunity to capitalize on a growing industry and offer patients a natural, clinically proven solution for protecting and enhancing vision.