Never before have we had such a plethora of choices at our disposal when it comes to offering solutions to visual needs. It seems as though what used to require occasional education on new products and their benefits has now become an ongoing necessity as advances in technology grow by leaps and bounds.
Lifestyle dispensing is taking the focus from selling eyewear to identifying specific needs and finding real benefits and solutions to those needs. This is rewarding because it feels good to help someone function visually, and the secondary benefit is to the growth and profitability of a practice or business.
Although taking time to practice lifestyle dispensing has always been important to the success of a practice or business, now it is a must. With multimedia exposure full of information to make shoppers more tech savvy and more online sites offering eyewear options, it behooves us to be up to date and skilled at lifestyle dispensing.
We can introduce lifestyle solutions to our patients in ways that are relevant. In our office, we have large-screen TV monitors to display informative on solutions to specific needs. Some offices have set up interactive software that walks a patient through the usual questions that would have previously been collected in written form. All of these are wonderful tools at our disposal in modern times in providing comprehensive eye care.
The most important part of lifestyle dispensing comes down to good old-fashioned communication and listening skills. We, as eyecare professionals must be skilled in discovering needs and knowledgeable in finding an eyewear solution to solve that need. No matter how we choose to gather information about the patient’s lifestyle, we need to assist our patient in functioning visually in whatever task, activity, or sport in which they participate.
Communicate to find opportunities
Communication skills among patients, staff, and doctors open the door to opportunities. Some of the most successful practices have reached that success because, as a group, they are truly looking out for the best interest of the patient. At every stage of the patient care—from check-in with the front office staff, to pretesting with the technicians, to comprehensive examination, to special testing or contact lens fitting, from the doctor to the hand-off to the optical dispensing staff—we work as a team to discover more about the patient’s lifestyle. We can take this knowledge to our next step in specific solution and benefit offerings.
At the doctor hand-off, the staffer in the dispensary can recap some of the needs discussed earlier. This is where communication and listening skills become most vital—along with product knowledge and understanding how to match products to a specific need. This is also where we can help a patient find eyewear that truly fits, functions as expected, and is fashionable. When we do this well, our patients become our best advocates.