Which is the problem with contact lenses noncompliance: the recommended return date for prescription renewal or the disposal schedule?
Often the two are indiscernible because most contact lens patients come in for one reason and one reason only—they are out of contact lenses. Why? Because patients tend to overextend the life of their lenses or managed to buy an extra supply online before their prescriptions expired.
Is this stereotyping of our contact lens patients justified, or are the rest of our patients not letting us down only because we are not asking them to be accountable for something? We have compliant glaucoma and dry eye patients, and we ask a great deal of them. The difference is that these patients are motivated by pain or the threat of blindness.
When I was younger, my ratio of “imprudence” was higher, and my aversion to risk was lower. Perhaps that is why my multifocal contact lens wearers behave better, but it could also be because they are less tolerant of visual acuity changes when wearing contact lenses.
Aside from the know-it-all attitude, there is also the deterrent of cost. Somewhere along the way, ODs became perceived as “bad guys” who needlessly require an exam and hold patients’ contact lens prescriptions hostage for no reason.
As much disdain as ODs have for online contact lens retailers, cost is a driving force in some patients’ contact lens abuse scenarios. Online retailers deliver the perception that they are cheaper and are on the patient’s side. Perhaps ODs’ gripes should not be aimed at just the online retailer. Instead, it is up to each OD to change each patient’s perception and mindset.
Here are five methods to help drive contact lens compliance.
The discipline method relies on the policies you put in place. What is your response when you receive a request for contact lens samples and the patient is overdue for an exam? If you simply require the patient to schedule the appointment, it could lead to a no-show and added frustration.
What do you do when you get a fax requesting prescription verification?
What about when patients want to buy lenses from you, but the supply would overextend the time they have left before exam time? Do you have policies in place that are specific to extended wear patients?
If you want your staff to respond consistently to these challenges, set your policies accordingly.
What incentive do you offer to entice the patient? Most of us offer a discount in addition to rebates when patients buy an annual supply. Some offices will also offer a free pair of sunglasses with the purchase of an annual supply, while others offer a discount in their optical.
We offer $75 off glasses when an annual supply of contact lenses is purchased. It seems to make a bigger impression to patients than a percentage off. Other simple offers could include free large bottles of lens care solution, an extra trial pair of lenses, or a Starbucks gift card.