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Tuesday / June 18.
HomemibusinessThe Customer Journey: Handover to the Optometrist

The Customer Journey: Handover to the Optometrist

Over the last three months we have been reviewing the Customer Journey through your practice which is made up of a series of TouchPoints – occasions where the patient interacts with the practice and can be influenced in their opinion. This month we look at TouchPoints 5 and 6.

TouchPoint 5. Handover to the Optometrist

This is a valuable opportunity to make the patient experience as seamless as possible and to demonstrate the teamwork between the reception staff and the optometrist. If the handover from reception to the consulting room is conducted poorly or does not happen at all, any rapport built by the reception staff with the patient will risk being undone. The patient is likely to be anxious about the eye examination in the first instance and if the optometrist remains anonymous this is unlikely to make them feel relaxed and welcome. This approach will not encourage patients to be open and forthcoming with information during the eye examination, or to continue discussing the best eyewear solutions or contact lenses at the dispensing stage later on.

Introduction to the Optometrist

Ideally the optometrist will introduce him or her self to patients and use the patient’s name when they greet them in the reception or waiting area. Eye contact, a welcoming smile, and maybe even a handshake, can go a long way to make the patient feel as if the optometrist is pleased to see the patient. If the optometrist is reading the record card or talking to another member of staff as he calls the patient they will give the impression that the patient is an inconvenience to be seen as quickly as possible, or as an interruption to their day.

If an optometrist does not feel comfortable introducing themself, an alternative is for reception staff to tell patients the name of the optometrist who will be examining their eyes when they arrive for the appointment. This will help put all patients, especially nervous ones, at ease during the eye examination. A relaxed patient will be easier to discuss eyewear options with later on. As a reminder of the optometrist’s name, a name badge and/or nameplate on the consulting room door are recommended.

If the handover from reception to the consulting room is conducted poorly or does not happen at all, any rapport built by the reception staff with the patient will risk being undone

Communication of Information

It is the responsibility of reception staff to ensure that the optometrist has the correct record card and any other relevant supporting information. This may include a completed pre-examination lifestyle questionnaire, the types of contact lenses already discussed with the patient, or a frame chosen whilst they were waiting. It is essential that the optometrist receives all the information on the patient so that they can tailor the eye examination to their individual needs. Alternatively the patient may have told someone on reception that they have to leave by a certain time, or that a family member will be joining them and this should be communicated with the optometrist either verbally or by a note left with the record card.

It is important for the reception staff and optometrist to make the handover of the patient as seamless as possible. One way of achieving this is to initiate a discussion at a staff meeting of the way patients are introduced to and greeted by the optometrist before the eye examination, and a procedure agreed upon.

TouchPoint 6. The Eye Examination and Explanation of Results

This is the stage of the customer journey that is feared most by many patients. For some the fear is being in a dark room with a stranger, for others it is the worry about whether they will provide the correct answers to the optometrist. To allay these fears the optometrist must be more than a good clinician. Research has shown that the public perceive an eye examination by a less clinically able optometrist with good communication skills, to be better than one from an excellent clinician who communicates poorly.

Putting the Patient at Ease

The first stages should include some general conversation to help build a rapport. This general conversation should be initiated by the use of open questions about anything other than why they have visited the practice today. With nervous patients this will inevitably take a little longer than with than those who appear to be more confident.

Discussion of History and Symptoms

When a rapport has been built more specific questions can be asked, but they should still be open to encourage more detailed answers. The optometrist should make eye contact with the patient and be aware of their body language. Turning your back on the patient to type in the computer risks undoing the good rapport.

The Eye Examination

The routine of tests undertaken will be the choice of the optometrist concerned. However, to enhance the patient’s perception of the whole process it is best to introduce each test with a short explanation of what it is for. This can be followed by a description of the outcome. It is also useful to reassure patients about the answers they give during the subjective parts of the eye examination. It is also good to tell patients that today’s results will provide a baseline measurement against which comparisons can be made during future visits and any changes will be monitored.

Before leaving the consulting room ask if they have any further questions, or if there is anything else that you can assist them with today. This will ensure all the patient’s concerns have been addressed. This, together with following the above suggestions, will ease the patient’s fears and ensure they hold the optometrist’s skills in high regard. For further information go to: www.customerjourney.co.uk, then click on ‘more’, then ‘Customer Journey’ or email [email protected].