One of the most important things I have learned since I graduated, has been that all patients appreciate follow-through, and I strive to do so with all of my vision therapy patients.
If you say you are going to do something, do it. You are the only one in control of building up your patient base and making a name for yourself in the community. A good way to do that is to become accessible to your patients and keep an open line of communication.
This article is geared towards staying connected with vision therapy patients, but I encourage ANY doctor to apply these recommendations when possible and take that extra step in patient care!
This is a big one. I am constantly emailing information to my patients. For instance, if I discover a child has a convergence or accommodative insufficiency in a primary care exam, I will educate the parent on treatment options. This may be a bit overwhelming, so I ask for an email address to send the parent/patient information for them to review what vision therapy is, and include articles/sites describing the particular condition as well as access to other informational websites.
Here is a sample email that I typically send out to my patients with a CI:
It was a pleasure to meet you and your son Jonny! Below you will find some links about vision therapy in general, what convergence insufficiency is and a wonderful YouTube video explaining vision therapy and how it relates to learning.
1.Here is a link to a description of vision therapy:
- Information about convergence insufficiency
- YouTube video mentioned above:
Looking forward to our full vision therapy work-up for Jonny on X/X/X at X. I am confident that we can get to the root of the problem and work towards getting Jonny more visually comfortable! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me!
Miki Lyn D’Angelo, OD
I also encourage sending follow-up e-mails throughout the course of treatment and beyond. This gives our patients the sense that we really do care and are here if they ever have any questions!
Make template e-mails for common conditions! This helps save you time!
2. Reports and Consults
A full vision therapy work-up is costly and time consuming on the patient's part. I believe that you need to write a detailed report that reflects that to ensure that the patient feels like it was money/time well spent and feels comfortable with the treatment plan. Included in this, I always ask whom else I should send a report to (PCP, school psychologist, OT/PT, speech therapist, etc...) so that I can keep everyone on my patient's "health care team" involved.
The second part to this is what I refer to as the "vision therapy consult." I bring the patient/parent back a few days after the initial work-up to discuss all the findings and present the report in person. The period between exam and consult allows everyone time to digest the exam, think of questions, and affords me an opportunity to really consider all aspects before coming up with a treatment protocol. I typically set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to meet with my patients to describe each condition in detail, show examples of how their child is seeing and what the plan is for remediation. Taking this extra step conveys to your patient that you care and are there to see them/their child succeed.
Take caution to not let your report writing fall by the wayside after the initial workup. Keep up with progress reports, documenting improvements, and any changes in treatment plans!
You must set aside time to write reports/correspond with patients. Give yourself a few hours of administrative time each week to get these tasks done.
I encourage patients to go on Facebook to read and talk to other parents/patients about vision therapy. Due to the fact that many people are not familiar with VT, giving people a forum to learn and feel comfortable with the practice modality is a must in my book.
I also recommend that you keep the practice’s Facebook Page up-to-date. Make daily posts about optometry, what is going on at the practice and even success stories! People like to feel connected and Facebook is the go-to place to do that.
At the end of the day, staying connected with your patients is what is going to set you apart from the doctor down the road. Taking that extra time to send an email, write a report or spend an extra few minutes talking to them is really what makes the difference. Be the doctor that patients can't stop talking about!