Creating Patient Care Opportunities

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO May 02, 2016

My father always told me that to get an opportunity, I had to make one. I was a high school wrestler on a very good team. Every week we had challenge matches to determine who would get to wrestle in the next match. After a solid junior season, I ended up losing in my challenge the week of the state qualifying tournament. I was out for the biggest meet of the year. My coach decided to let me travel with the team, but with no expectation of getting to wrestle. We all struggled to make weight so I decided that I was going to be at the qualifying weight even though I was not going to wrestle … I decided to be ready. Sure enough, as luck would have it, our top guy failed to make weight and the coach put me in. I went all the way to the finals and qualified for state. Preparation had resulted in an opportunity.

In much the same way, every moment of optometric practice is about creating opportunities for service. Our job is to address the chief complaint but to also assess the patient for other needs and construct a treatment plan for other service. Each patient encounter is an opportunity to solidify our role in our patient’s long term health and wellness.

It is all about being ready. That next vision care patient may need medical management. The next medical patient may need refractive care. They may have relatives or friends who are also in need of care. They may need to adopt a prevention mindset. Our ability to listen carefully will often uncover hidden opportunities for service.

I have often said that I don’t need an advantage, just an opportunity. We need to eliminate barriers which can slow a patient’s approach to our practices. Once access is achieved, we must then concentrate on utilization. We need to create a value proposition which makes patients want to use their benefits. In the end, it is the combination of access and utilization which leads to patient care opportunities.

Optometry’s progress in gaining greater access in medicine is well documented. Optometry is blessed with many top-notch clinicians. There is no question, optometry is well equipped for medical management. But I also believe that optometry continues to be underutilized within medicine and that we are capable of so much more. We need to loudly tell our story if we expect medicine to further embrace what we have to offer.

As I see it, opportunity is where you find it. It is imperative that we work hard in the areas of access and utilization, to create those opportunities for service. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our patients. We have the opportunity to establish ourselves as an integral part in their pursuit of health and wellness. Let’s be sure to approach each day with an eye for new opportunities.

And in the words of that great Hall of Fame Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary: “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”

What opportunities have you identified that optometrists can pursue in the eye care industry? Reply in the comments section below for a chance to win during our May giveaway.

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