Marketing and Promoting a Low Vision Practice
By: Michael R. Politzer, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D.
Managing a successful low vision practice involves many areas. However, without the addition of new patients and the return of satisfied previous patients the practice will not survive. Marketing and promotion is the process of “showcasing” your practice. It is o.k. to let people know what you do! This can and should be done both internally for existing patients and externally for prospective patients. Following these suggestions will give you practical ways of promoting your practice and insuring its success.
Begin by informing current patients of the low vision care you provide. Don’t be hesitant to let primary care patients know that you may be able to help their elderly parents see more clearly and have a better quality of life. Using practice literature such as brochures, newsletters and statement stuffers is an excellent and cost effective means of notifying patients that you are now providing low vision care.
Meeting and exceeding patient expectations is also very important. Patients are often surprised when you tell them that they can be helped. When the help becomes a reality they are thrilled. This presents a golden opportunity for you to ask them to refer a friend or relative who may need your services. Successful low vision patients are a very vocal group and love to tell their story to others.
Communicate to your low vision patients and their families by sending a narrative report. Patients appreciate receiving the results of their examination and your recommendations for low vision aids. Your thoroughness will be recognized and patients will recommend others to you for low vision care services.
Suggestions for external promotion can include having successful patients contact local medical editors of TV, radio or newspapers to do a story featuring their success with using low vision aids. These human interest stories are very compelling when they show how low vision care helped patients improve the quality of their lives.
You can achieve a similar effect by creating an advertisement that looks like a feature story. Or you can create an advertisement that highlights to low vision patients “SOMETHING CAN BE DONE”.
Association with senior aid companies such as Senior Pathways is also very effective. These companies provide a wide range of services to the senior community and enjoy their trust. When they trust you, they will promote low vision care and your office to the patients they serve.
Contact school districts within your area informing them that you can provide services to help their visually impaired children to do better academically and socially. These services are generally not being provided and school personnel are very great full to have you as a resource.
If there is a large senior center close to your office you can have an informal tea for the residents. Invite them to come and learn more about their ocular conditions and how low vision aids can help.
Informing doctors in your area of the low vision care services you are now providing is always a good idea. Inviting them to refer patients to you for co-management is something they may not expect. By providing a co-management mechanism they are more likely to refer, as they know the patient will return for primary care services. Don’t forget to send letters to the patient’s other doctors as well. They are another good source for referrals.
All of these recommendations work but it takes time to establish your low vision practice and more importantly, its reputation. Don’t give up. Be persistent in your marketing strategies and consistent in giving excellent care. Patients are slow to change but are fiercely loyal when they do. The benefits are well worth the effort.