Imagine the little boy in your office that comes in as an uncorrected +6.00 hyperope with amblyopia, and zealously adheres to your patching and vision therapy protocol and can’t wait to see how much his vision has improved at each visit. No surprise this little boy grew up to be an optometrist! Dr. Leigh Plowman is as passionate about optometry now as he was from that very first visit in the optometrist’s chair where he learned of his need for glasses and amblyopia therapy.
Practicing around the globe in Australia, Dr. Plowman spent 4 weeks on rotation at the Illinois College of Optometry before finishing his optometric degree and returning to practice in his home country. There he discovered that optometry in America is not that different from optometry in Australia, with a few exceptions. Currently Australian ODs can only prescribe topical therapies, not orals, and a universal government healthcare system (called Medicare) dictates reimbursement for optometric exams. Unfortunately, reimbursement rates have been stagnant, which has lead Australian ODs to especially feel the pressure as online disruptors eat away at their margins.
The pinch he felt as a young optometrist working in private practice inspired Dr. Plowman to focus on ways that he could help doctors in Australia and beyond educate the true value of the profession. His blog and website, Optomly was born, and his associated Instagram account, @optomleigh. He helps clients around the world create a digital marketing strategy, with a focus on creating communication channels between doctor and patient that will build trust and loyalty in today’s digital world. What are the biggest things he feels doctors can do in 2018?
- Instagram is the “New Facebook” – Dr. Plowman feels this is the key platform to focus on in 2018 for connecting with and growing patients organically
- Social media not working for you? Think about communicating and leading a conversation, not just about creating “a post”. Today’s social media success is all about engagement. Dr. Plowman draws inspiration from author Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World
- A big mistake he sees doctors making online? Making posts predominantly a call to action like “schedule an eye exam.” Instead of asking patients to do something, focus on helping, educating, and serving the patient. Dr. Plowman recommends posting a call to action like “schedule an appointment” no more than once every 5-6 posts, leading heavily instead with service and community discussions in your post content.
- There’s a massive opportunity for video! To stand out as a unique person in a sea of stock photo, nondescript eyecare marketing, video allows for your patients to truly connect with you. Dr. Plowman recommends breaking into video with Instagram Stories where the production value can be very low stress – just yourself talking into a phone. Get your staff involved too so the entire office has enthusiasm about the marketing message!
How do you get started in video? Dr. Plowman reassures that expensive equipment isn’t necessary. Today’s smartphones have powerful video cameras. It would be a worthwhile investment to buy a higher quality external microphone to improve video sound quality from your phone, usually around $30. You can make your videos work even harder for you by embedding them in your website, and having them transcribed for a blog post (which drives massive keyword utilization for search engine optimization). The podcast is loaded with even more of his tips for making video work for your practice!
Want to learn more from Dr. Plowman? Head to his website, Instagram account, and You Tube channel. You can even check out the video discussion between Dr. Plowman, Dr. Glover, and Dr. Lyerly about increasing capture rate with the doctor/optical handoff!