This podcast episode was made possible with the support of Johnson and Johnson Vision.
Building a practice is centered around creating an outstanding patient experience, but for many doctors, we can get stuck in our normal habits and routines. We’re joined by Dr. Danielle Richardson on this livestream video podcast as she shares how her practice breaks away from traditional office norms to create an unforgettable patient experience, and how she prescribes for clarity and comfort to provide patients with an upgraded lifestyle even after they leave her office.
Dr. Richardson practices at Zak Eyes in Los Angeles, a practice whose goal is to break free of the normal optometry office play book. Their mission statement reads “a new vision for an old industry”. The office is designed for a luxury experience but offers eyewear and comprehensive exams at an extremely competitive price point. Their private label eyewear line focused on 6 top-selling frame styles starts at $125 for a complete pair of frame, lenses, and anti-reflective coating. In non-COVID times, fresh carrot juice was made daily for patients to enjoy during their visit.
There is no traditional waiting room, and pretesting equipment including an autorefractor and lensometer to read current eyewear is located in the optical so that patients’ exams begin immediately upon entry. Dr. Richardson explains that the schedule is kept purposefully spaced so that patients have a private and very one-on-one experience with the optician and the doctor. This personal attention creates a luxury shopping and concierge-style healthcare experience.
In the exam room, Dr. Richardson focuses on ways she can upgrade her patients’ experience after they leave her office and return to their normal day to day. “I use the word ‘premium’ a lot when I talk to patients,” Dr. Richardson explains. “I talk about premium eyewear and premium contact lenses.” When speaking with other doctors, she notes that we often don’t lead with the best options because we are concerned about costs and how patients will perceive us if we start with an expensive option right out of the gate. But when patients understand their options and how the technology will solve specific issues in their life, the choice is often very clear that the best option is the best choice. “I always talk to patients about upgrading them to a premium contact lens, whether that’s because they have dry eye, or they need UV protection, or they need an astigmatism lens to get better visual clarity.”
Daily disposable contact lenses are her go-to lens option. “A daily disposable is supposed to be the most comfortable modality,” Dr. Richardson explains to her patients. If her patients have signs or symptoms of dry eye during the slit lamp examination, she explains to them that their issues mean they need an upgrade to a premium product. Currently only 34% of Americans are prescribed daily disposable contact lenses, despite the fact that research shows they are both more comfortable to wear and safer than reusable contact lens options. A 2010 study where 83 symptomatic reusable contact lens wearers were refit into daily disposable lenses showed that after changing to dailies, patients reported statistically significant improvements in both symptom frequency and symptom severity for tired eyes, irritated eyes, blurred vision, redness, discomfort, and dryness. Research also shows that patients wearing daily disposable lenses experience a 12-to-13-times reduced risk of corneal inflammatory events when compared with patients wearing reusable lenses.
Astigmatism correction can also significantly upgrade a contact lens wearers’ visual experience. An estimated 47% of patients have 0.75D cylinder or more in at least one eye, yet only 22% of soft contact lens fits are for toric lenses. In Dr. Richardson’s practice, she’s seen many patients who have never been offered toric lens technology, but also many patients who have been prescribed it and are unhappy with the stability of their vision. “When I talk to patients about Acuvue Oasys 1 Day for Astigmatism, I position it as a premium product,” Dr. Richardson states. “I explain to them what a blink-stabilized design is. Instead of a weight at the top or bottom of the lens, there are actually two weights on either side of the lens, and I tell them that this lens can tolerate a head-tilt much better than other lens designs.”
You can learn more about daily disposable contact lenses and how to educate patients about the superior benefits of this lens modality here.