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Modernized lifestyle dispensing


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.

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.

Simple strategies for successful frameboard management

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.   

Next: Finding the patient's priorities


Finding the patient’s priorities

Exploring the options can be endless. We should ask open-ended questions that require specific answers. Examples of open-ended questions include, “What activities do you participate in? How do your current glasses function when you go about your day?” The questions you ask should allow you to gather data about specific needs and should not be answerable with just a yes or a no response. You want to get to know each patient personally in order to personalize what you offer. A thorough discussion not only identifies needs but can also lend information about preferences in frame styles and the patient’s priorities.

Promoting specialty eyewear within the dispensary

As a patient describes a day in the life of her visual experience, a prepared eyecare professional can already be formulating in his mind what solutions and benefits to recommend to meet each need. This process is successful only if you are natural with your terminology and have working knowledge of what products to offer to match specific situations. You must be the expert and assure the patient that you have just the answer to her visual application. Remember to mention what the patient said is her first priority in vision correction, and demonstrate how your recommendation solves that need.

If fashion is the first priority to a patient, then finding the perfect frames would take precedence. If you discovered that finding a way to afford both prescription eyewear and prescription sun wear was important, then achieving both within the established budget range would be priority. Never be afraid to offer benefit solutions that are above a stated budget when you believe that they are required to solve a need. More often than not if you strongly believe in the benefit to the patient, she will see that the benefit is important and will find a way to afford eyewear that will meet her needs. There is a wide variety of product categories, which allow us to offer good, better, and best scenarios while still achieving the desired benefit.

Next: General needs for every patient


General needs for every patient

There are some general needs that should be addressed for every single patient we see. Every patient should have frames that fit properly regardless of budget. With so many available options in where to purchase eyewear, this important starting point is the foundation of function and comfort for your patient. Pay particular attention to the details. Does the frame fit the patient’s bridge? Will it accommodate the required lenses? Are the temples the correct length? And will it hold up to the task for which it will be utilized? If we are into solving lifestyle needs, then no small detail can be considered unimportant.

Maximize profits with managed vision care

An expert eyecare provider needs to explain how different frame and lens options can give patients the best visual experience to meet their needs and expectations. All patients can benefit from:

• UV protection

• Anti-reflective coating

Polarized lenses for sun wear

• Lenses that offer the best distance solution for their lifestyle

I am really listening when the patient describes how his glasses will be used. As a patient explains his lifestyle, I repeat back what he told me, inserting my recommendations and how he can benefit from each offer.

 Most of us use some type of electronic device and are finding that our eyes are getting a real workout as we enjoy modern technology. More patients than ever before can benefit from anti-fatigue lenses, multifocal correction, or lenses designed for computer or office setting tasks. One pair of eyeglasses cannot meet every need. If a patient cannot function without correction, then it is imperative that we recommend and offer a backup pair of glasses in the event that the primary pair needs repair or service. 

Maximizing sunglasses sales

The amount of effort you put into lifestyle dispensing will determine your success. Successful lifestyle dispensing includes:

• The right staff in place

• Working in tandem with the goal of meeting needs and retaining patients for life

• Offering top-notch patient care

• A variety of product offerings in a variety of price ranges

• Educating the staff on products and their benefits

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