Erin Melissa Jones, OD, is in private practice at Renewed Vision in Jefferson, GA.
One OD has polished a 4 step process of introducing new contact lens technology to patients
When a new eyecare technology enters the market, ODs get a chance to improve the lives of their patients. The technology may be great; however, the new technology may or may not be a good investment of practice resources.
It is the job of ODs to stay educated on new treatment options available. It is also the job of ODs to educate patients on treatment options that may benefit them, whether or it they are available at that office.
Advancing soft contact lens technology is new technology that can be easily integrated into any practice with minimal investment of money and with only a moderate investment of time. The introduction of Acuvue Oasys with Transitions (Johnson & Johnson Vision) allowed my office to experience a good method to introdue our technology to our patient population using a 4-step process.
The doctor and key staff members need to be educated. In the example of Acuvue Oasys with Transitions, our Johnson & Johnson Vision representative presented the new technology to me and my key contact lens technician. The rep educated us on what the contact lens does (it changes color in response to light), on what it does not do (it does not replace the need for sun protection), and on the recommended target market (patients bothered by light or involved in outdoor activities).
ODs use their judgment to make recommendations specific to particular patients. Knowing the similarities and differences between treatment options can help us make decisions on how to adapt treatment plans when we are not getting results we are expecting or the results we desire.
2. Position technology in your practice
Every practice must determine how to position new contact lens technology. Does it fall into the category of a standard or specialty contact lens? Would ODs discuss it with all patients or just a targeted patient population?
In the the example of Acuvue Oasys with Transitions, the lens has specific properties although it shares similarities with Acuvue Oasys (Johnson & Johnson Vision). It takes time to discuss these features with patients.
Contact lenses are also medical devices, and contact lens prescriptions are brand specific. I did not want to disrupt the patient perception of that concept. The contact lens market is already confusing for patients to understand due to so many direct-to-consumer contact lens being marketed. I wanted every patient to receive a clear, consistent message from my office regarding the contact lens evaluation process.
3.Introduce the lens to patients
Acuvue Oasys with Transitions provided a very significant change in soft contact lenses. I wanted to test the technology to get a feel of how patients would perceive the change in vision.
Because Johnson & Johnson Vision had widely advertised Acuvue Oasys with Transitions, we added a banner on our website informing the community that the lens was now available at our pracctice. Time was set aside in the schedule, and all current Acuvue Oasys wearers were contacted with an offer to try the new lens. This allowed us to get valuable patient feedback in a short time. During this process, we were emphatic about maintaining patients’ understanding that contact lenses are medical devices and that an annual comprehensive eye exam and contact lens evaluation are essential.
4. Adapt methods
ODs often introduce a new contact lens with a good idea of who the best candidates will be, but there is always room to adjust those perceptions as we actually use and prescribe the new technology.
In our practice, we found that it was not be very efficient or effective to target patients for the new lens who self-identified as participating in outdoor activities or being bothered by light. The lenses weren’t right for some “ideal” candidates, while some patients outside the target market responded very positively.
We opted to adapt how we presented this new technology to our patients. We introduced the new contact lens to current Acuvue Oasys sphere contact lens lens wearers. After all, it was not dissimilar to the lens with which they were already having success. We also introduced the new lens to patients who seemed bothered by light or who had an active lifestyle, provided their prescription was within the available parameters. If the patient expressed interest, we then went into more detail regarding expectations and pricing. Setting realistic expectations, as with other contact lens technology, was key.
By adapting our methods for introducing this option to patients, we have been able to increas the visual comfort of more patients, and for a different population of patients, then originally anticipated.
Better than expected results
By following this 4-step process to introduce new contact lens technology, my office has had better than expected results. By adpating our methods for introducing the lens to patients, we found patients who preceived improved visual comfort not only for outdoor activities but also for computer use, driving at night, and work in harsh industrial-type lighting.
ODs’ job is to educate patients on options that may benefit them. Not every patient will take advantage of the new technology, and that is OK. But patients are aware that the new technology exists, and how it may help them.