Six Steps to Distinction in Eye Care

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By April Jasper, OD, FAAO, and Katie Gilbert-Spear, OD, MPH, Co-professional Editors for Women In Optometry


Certain words and ideas rise to the top when you’re trying to define your distinctive strategy. I suspect many of you immediately think of your quality, technology, focus on customer service and more. Those are all important elements of an overall strategy toward distinction, but the parts pushed together don’t necessarily equal a whole. The whole strategy comes from an organized understanding of the practice mission and the ability to carry that mission through the entire patient process.

We say that there are six steps to creating distinction in eye care. Note that none of these say, “Buy the best equipment you can afford.” Steps like that are action steps; we’re focusing here on steps that will enhance and reinforce your mission.

1. Know your mission. This is critical. Everything else flows from this.

2. Create an atmosphere that mirrors the vision. Look, listen and feel when you walk into the office. What is the atmosphere that the patient encounters?

3. Provide service in every area that follows the vision. Notice the importance of the final part of that phrase. Don’t simply add services because it might be a way to boost revenue. Whatever you add—services, products, diagnostic equipment—should be added because it will help your practice follow its vision.

4. Continue the vision with efficiency. “The doctor was great, but I waited for 45 minutes.” Or “I love my new eyeglasses, but I had to keep calling to find out if they were ready.” Those “but” phrases highlight the lapses in efficiency.

5. Solidify the experience with accuracy. Make sure the processes are in place to ensure accuracy—and to respond if and when there’s a problem.

6. Seal the deal with empathy. Patients are people, and they come into your office with their own burdens. Do what you can to ensure that they leave feeling like they were well-cared for and respected.