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Observations on increased patient demand for premium IOLs
During the COVID-19 pandemic
, I was surprised by the surge in patients who were eager to convert to premium lenses. Through observation and conversation, I determined the two key reasons behind this uptick. First, these patients—who were primarily at retirement age with savings—were not traveling or spending money going out to restaurants, shows, or other events, meaning they had more expendable income.
Second, being primarily in the home, individuals were using their eyes much more intensely for longer periods of time while reading, working on the computer, and watching television, so they yearned to have both better vision and be spectacle free.
And though, as of May 11, 2023, we are no longer in the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, there is still a carryover of patient demand for advanced technology IOLs—perhaps due to witnessing the results of friends and family members who had premium implants during that time. Of course, the goal is always optimal outcomes and peak patient satisfaction. Here are my top five pearls to achieve both while converting patients to premium IOLs.
1. Don’t oversell the lens.
In a nutshell, don't try to push premium IOLs on patients. Aggressive tactics are reminiscent of the “used car salesman” approach and can make patients distrustful, which may lead to them abandoning your practice to seek a second opinion—and surgery—elsewhere.
On this note, I also do not recommend compensating technicians for convincing patients to convert to an advanced technology lens, which can motivate staff to put undue pressure on the patient. A decision of this magnitude should be made by the patient and ophthalmologist after thorough examination and education
2. Be confident in the technology.
It is imperative that you fully stand behind the technology you are proposing and make this evident when presenting it to the patient. If you are not unequivocal on the safety and efficacy of a new technology, then do not implement it.
It is equally important that your staff be well-versed in the different offerings. Patients will often begin the discussion of their procedure with whoever is the first point of contact; therefore, it is imperative that every public-facing staff member has a working knowledge and feels competent in discussing the available technology. Remember, your receptionist may be the first person a patient asks about the capabilities of a presbyopia-correcting lens
3. Get great outcomes.
Unfortunately, prior to ever entering your office, many patients have already explored lens options online and found their way to forums with negative reviews about less-than-favorable outcomes. With a reputation preceding it, they may be reluctant to consider certain IOLs. The most effective way to counteract and change this perception is to achieve great outcomes consistently at your practice and garner positive reviews.
A major component in creating a premium experience is choosing the appropriate IOL that fits the needs of the patient, especially for those more complex cases (i.e., severe dry eye, irregular astigmatism
, macular degeneration). The first step is accurately identifying which individual is—and is not—the ideal candidate for a specific lens. Equally important is knowing how to address the pre- and post-surgical needs of a patient who is not completely satisfied with their results, whether that will entail laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) or another refractive procedure, tackling dry eye disease (DED) or meibomian gland dysfunction
to ease ocular surface discomfort, or performing a YAG capsulotomy.
4. Under-promise and over-deliver.
Even knowing that, with the correct combination of patient and lens, spectacle independence is possible, might not deliver a guarantee of 20/20 vision. Strategically, manage patient expectations.
Then, if a presbyopia-correcting lens
brings not only clarity but the ability to live a life without glasses, the patient will likely be ecstatic. As in the previous pearl, this will commonly generate word-of-mouth referrals of friends and family who also desire to be spectacle free.
5. Make sure your office is premium.
One of the simplest ways to increase your premium IOL patient base is to make certain your office is also premium. Patients will subconsciously associate a poorly decorated and shabbily kept office with lower-quality products. An orderly office with modern furnishings
and a serene atmosphere can instantly boost patient confidence.
As many premium lens procedures are typically cash-pay, they can be equated to other cash-pay services, like luxury spa treatments and aesthetic surgery—so consider the ambiance of high-end spas and plastic surgery offices. Make certain the appearance of your practice matches the level of services you provide.
Incorporating these pearls into your practice can help you to potentially achieve greater growth and higher patient satisfaction. You'll likely find more patients either requesting premium lenses or opting for them after being offered the option.
And, often, after reaping the rewards of their choice, these individuals might even share the positive impact of an advanced technology IOL
with their network, giving rise to more patients seeking information on these procedures. It is a win-win situation for all involved!