Patient Education: the key to practice growth

Education is a key part of avoiding commoditization. Patients can’t diagnose their own vision problems, so they can’t determine which lenses are best for them.

Patients say it all the time: “If a doctor just suggested something, I’d try to follow his recommendation". So when it comes to eye care patients leaving your practice with a prescription and heading straight to a retailer for lenses and/or frames, what’s your excuse? Could it be that your patient simply isn’t educated enough to know the difference between a premium lens they’ll find at your practice and a regular lens from a retailer?


Education is a key part of avoiding commoditization. Patients can’t diagnose their own vision problems, so they can’t determine which lenses are best for them without a little outside help from a professional. That’s where you step in. By educating your patients and hiring the right staff to enhance this education, you can start growing your practice.

Educating, Not Selling, from the Chair

Many eye doctors/optometrists feel like they need to “sell from the chair” to keep a patient from going somewhere else for their lenses or frames. But the truth is, most doctors/optometrists aren’t natural salespeople. It also creates pressure and increases a patient’s desire to escape. Overall, it’s not a very comfortable situation. 

Instead, try to educate the customer throughout their buyer’s journey. Explain what you’re going to do, why you're doing what you're doing when you give them the eye exam. What are the noticeable differences in the $500 lenses you’re prescribing and what makes them better than the $200 lenses they’ll find at a big-box warehouse? Patients do actually want to know the benefits of certain lenses and are open to more information about it. If they know the difference, they might be willing to pay more for it.

(For a particularly useful, in-depth look at the importance of patient education from the perspective of a doctor and medical school professor with more than 20 years experience, read the journal entry Patient Education: Sharing a Passion, Sharing Resources by Dr. MacLean for the U.S. National Library of Medicine.)

Identifying Specific Issues and Solutions

When you personalize education, it makes the biggest impact on patients. You can do that by identifying some specific issues you can address with each patient. For example, two main topics in the eye care industry these days are millenials and the increased usage of digital devices – digital eye strain and blue  light emission. If your patient has a job where they’re in front of a computer, you can leverage this by explaining how blue-light filtering lenses can decrease eyestrain. This is equally important to millennials who are in front of a digital device most of the day. Basically, if you can identify one or two things that would enhance your patient’s life, it can make a huge difference in patient education and your overall sales.

Hiring the Right People to Maximize Your One-on-One Time

Maximizing one-on-one time is key to patient education and potential sales. As an eye care professional, you have a bunch of things going on with different patients at any given time, making it hard to balance patient education with your day-to-day activities. So what’s the solution? Hiring the right staff. Empowering them with eye care knowledge can give them the confidence to educate the patient on your behalf. Or, you can have your staff handle some of your other tasks, allowing you to spend more time educating each patient. Either way, having a team of the right people (who are good at what they do) can go a long way toward patient education.

Patient education is one of the most important aspects of practice growth and patient loyalty. By figuring out a way to organically educate customers on solutions for their specific problems and needs, you can grow your practice and keep patients from going somewhere else.

Learn more ways to grow your eye care practice

A guide with 10 Easy-to-Implement Steps to Obtain, Retain and Keep Your Patients Coming Back