Educate Patients With a Loaded iPad

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million.

By ANDREW MORGENSTERN, OD, AND NEIL F. MARTIN, MD

In today’s economic climate, using technology to the benefit of your practice is not only a good idea, but it can be the difference between sinking or swimming. We work at Washington Eye Physicians and Surgeons, a multidisciplinary ophthalmology practice with eight ophthalmologists and two optometrists located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The local competition is fierce, especially for elective procedures such as LASIK, PRK, premium IOLs, and Visian ICL (STAAR Surgical Company, Monrovia, CA). Making a clinic stand out in the crowd requires more than hard work; it also takes technology. At our practice, Luma (Eyemaginations, Inc, Towson, MD) not only allows us to better educate our patients, it also gives us that “wow” factor that impresses patients and drives referrals (Figures 1-3).

EDUCATED PATIENTS ARE SATISFIED

Patients come to eye care providers voluntarily. If practitioners do not deliver on patients’ expectations, they can choose not to come back. The goal is to provide toplevel eye care, which entails ensuring that patients understand their visual problems and their choices for resolution. Additionally, eye care specialists want happy patients; good reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter; and an army of ambassadors for the practice from their patient base.

If a patient is in our office for a cataract or refractive surgical consultation, the technician gives him or her an iPad (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA) to watch after the workup or during dilation. The iPad is loaded with Luma videos that cover a wide variety of topics such as premium cataract procedures, LASIK surgery, glaucoma, retinal disease, macular degeneration, myopia, dry eyes, and progressive lenses. The videos use three-dimensional animated graphics to explain complex anatomy in a simple, concise way that allows the patient to better understand his or her disease or procedure. This approach eliminates the need for an eye care specialist to spend an average of 15 minutes with each patient educating him or her on his or her situation. In our experience, the Luma videos enhance patients’ understanding. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.

EDUCATED PATIENTS ARE COMPLIANT

Patients who understand their condition are more likely to comply with treatment and are generally more satisfied. Improved understanding is also a key element in converting cataract patients to premium IOL procedures. Since using the iPad and Luma educational videos, I (N.F.M.) have seen a double-digit increase in my conversion rates from monofocal IOLs to premium implant surgery.

The videos are not just about upselling. I (N.F.M.) have had some patients who desired a premium IOL but were not suitable candidates upon examination. Explaining to the patient why he or she cannot have a premium lens put in his or her eye is heartbreaking. Using educational videos to explain, for example, what an epiretinal membrane is and why it cannot be done in conjunction with an AcrySof Restor lens (Alcon Laboratories, Inc., Fort Worth, TX), however, is much easier for the patient to digest.

Either way, the eye care practitioner has created an educated patient who has confidence in his or her doctor and is satisfied with his or her medical care. These individuals will refer their family, friends, and coworkers to the practice.

WHY THE IPAD AND LUMA VIDEOS WORK

No. 1. Perception Is Reality
Patients want to be proud of the eye care provider they visit. They want to be taken care of by a physician who is on the cutting edge of technology. There is no easier way to communicate to patients that their eye care practitioner cares than to enhance their understanding of their ocular problem. Luma is a simple, cost-effective way to educate patients and create the perception that the practice is technologically savvy.

No. 2. Chair Time Is Reduced
At our practice, we estimate that we save at least 5 to 8 minutes per patient every time we utilize the videos. During the course of a year, that adds up to dozens of hours of chair time saved. When we talk to patients, they have a much better grasp of their situation, and we are able to answer their informed questions. The videos are also an excellent tool for family members who want to help elderly patients make decisions on their care. The videos can be offered on the practice’s Web site for patients and family members to view at home.

No. 3. Litigation Is Avoided
In a litigious society, the ability to document exactly how a patient was educated before a procedure is critical. Showing these videos demonstrates (to a jury, if necessary) exactly what a patient knew before he or she consented to a procedure. This can be a career-saving investment.

No. 4. The iPad Is Sexy and Functional
Who does not want to own or at least play with an iPad? My (A.M.) 4-year-old child and my 72-year-old father have one electronic device that they can navigate equally: my iPad. It is cool, fun, and sexy, and officially using it for patients’ care makes it tax deductible!

CONCLUSION

It is difficult to determine where to invest in a practice, especially during difficult financial times. Patients’ education, however, is a key factor in their satisfaction and thus a medical practice’s success. In our experience, an iPad can serve as an educational tool that improves patients’ understanding, saves the eye care specialist time, and upgrades the image of the practice. That is a small investment for so many returns.

Neil F. Martin, MD, is a clinical professor at Washington Hospital Center and Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC. He acknowledged no financial interest in the products or companies mentioned herein. Dr. Martin may be reached at neilfmartinmd@gmail.com.

Andrew Morgenstern, OD, is a founding member of the American Optometric Association’s New Technology Workgroup and is vice president of the Maryland Optometric Association. He acknowledged no financial interest in the products or companies mentioned herein. Dr. Morgenstern may be reached at andrewmorgenstern@gmail.com.

Drs. Morgenstern and Martin are eye care practitioners for the Georgetown Hoyas Athletic Department.