Now Watch Me Whip; Watch Me Nae Nae

By Derek N. Cunningham, OD, Chief Medical Editor

“Watch Me,” the video for the song from Silentó, had 368,819,142 views when I checked this morning. Crazy, right? Not really. The video is attention grabbing and memorable; you can’t help but watch. So, what are your patients watching when they interact with you and your clinic? What will they remember about your clinic when they leave? Perception can be as important—and, unfortunately, even more important—than reality or substance to most people, including your patients. Providing great care can often be lost on patients who are not made aware of what it is they are receiving.

The two things that most patients judge us on are how they see and how they feel; but, it is the way in which we provide care that truly differentiates us. Patients’ experiences in your office are key to how they view you and your practice. You could be providing cutting-edge/world-leading services, but if patients are not aware of it, a large part of your efforts are lost. “It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta sight.”

How do you show your patients that not only do you have their best interests at heart, but you are also on the leading edge of heath care? Integrated care may be one of the most powerful tools you can use to impress patients and raise your level of patient care. Most of you are already there, but, do your patients know? To what level do they know?

The Whip (The Why, right arm forward)

The more your patients know how much you communicate with your surgeon, the more confidence they will have in you as their clinician. Remember, as much as you build up your surgeon to your patients, you are still the one they trust the most. The surgeon spends minutes with them, you may spend as much as a lifetime (so to speak). Show your patients the level of involvement you have in the entire surgical process. Make sure they understand the level of communication you have with all of the surgeons in your network—and the mutual respect you share.

The Nae Nae (The Nuts and Bolts, left arm up high)

Imagine the reinforcement for both parties when the clinician and surgeon say the exact same thing. Making sure that you and your surgeon use the same messaging and terminology can be infinitely comforting to the patient, and it serves to validate each doctor to the patient. Also, let the patient know that you communicate with the surgeon regularly (not just in general, but in regard to his or her case as well). Consider sending the patient an automated notification when you communicate information about him or her to a referred doctor.

Tell your patients that you have been in the OR with your surgeon (and if you have not, why are you referring to that individual in the first place). Show your patients that you have a specific reason for using that specialist. Put a picture of you in the OR on your website (you already have enough of you sitting beside your slit lamp). Put a picture of you with the surgeon on your website. Be positive that you are using the best surgeon for that patient, and let him or her know why.

Several years ago, I broke my ankle and suffered a high ankle sprain. A doctor friend referred me to an orthopedic surgeon for a specific reason: Not because he was the most accomplished orthopedic surgeon in town, but because he knew this surgeon was the best specialist for me. The orthopedic surgeon proceeded to tell me all the stuff that he was supposed to tell me about the severity of my injury and the surgeries and rehab he was supposed to recommend. He then told me that he was going to do none of it, because I was a doctor, and, like most doctors, I was not going to follow any of his advice anyway. He told me that any of my extended healing and possible permanent limitations would be solely my fault. I immediately called my friend and thanked him for the referral. It took me 18 months to heal without surgery and rehab, but it was one of the most thoughtful referrals that I have ever received.

Watch Me! Watch Me!

Possibly the most important initiative that AOC has ever conceptualized is our series “Best Practices in Integrated Care” (see page 57 in this issue and go to eyetubeOD.com to view the archives and videos). It has the potential to become the definitive national guideline for both optometry and ophthalmology. It seeks to help both groups provide better joint patient care then either has previously on its own. The open collaboration of our professions with this initiative will ensure optimal patient care and give all of us a template for the future of eye care. Read this series; it redefines our professions.

Ultimately, some patients assume that all of this communication is seamless, but most have no idea. We have an opportunity to make this type of collaboration the norm, both in perception and reality. This is the first step in making optometry and ophthalmology a seamless, enhanced, patient care system. Both professions working togetether with only the patient in mind. This could be us. n

Derek N. Cunningham, OD
Chief Medical Editor