Archive for January 6th, 2009


December President’s Column: Take back the dispensary!

January 6, 2009

At almost every lecture I attend, the phrase: “Medical Model” is discussed. I cringe every time I hear that because the words seem to imply that we should ignore what made, and makes, our profession so special and why most of our patients present in our offices.

My preference has always been the “Optometric Model,” which by my definition means “Total Patient Care.” While there are some lecturers who talk about the Total Patient Care model, I’d like us to consider resurrecting an old concept to be sure we meet ALL of our patient’s needs: “Doctor- Driven Dispensing.”

Optometrists will always make the decision on what drug to prescribe for their patient’s diagnosed condition. And rarely would an optometrist allow a staff or dispensary decide which contact lens is most appropriate for their patient. However, many optometrists don’t “prescribe” or recommend specific spectacle lenses for their patients.

During a comprehensive exam that includes refraction, you’ve discovered the specific visual demands of your patient and their lifestyle needs. Patients come to us for solutions to the visual and eye health needs. They expect us to know what lenses will provide the very best visual solutions for their specific visual needs; and they want us to make the specific “Doctor-Driven Dispensing” recommendations.

Based on your findings and your patients’ visual demands, your recommendations may include multiple solutions: everyday eyeglasses, computer eyeglasses, sunglasses, or even sport or hobby eyewear. What better place to present your spectacle recommendations than in the exam room, as you present your visual and eye health findings and final recommendations to your patient.

Whether you own your own dispensary or not, as that patient’s optometrist, don’t leave lens decisions to “stylists” who may or may not fully understand the specific visual needs of your patient.  Ideally, you would make the specific lens recommendations to your patient with a dispenser in the exam room to be sure your instructions are followed.

If your practice setting or staffing don’t afford you that luxury, be sure to take a few moments to fully explain each of your eyewear recommendations (and write a prescription) and how they relate to their specific visual needs.  This is no different than explaining your findings and recommendations for treatment of a patient’s dry eyes, conjunctivitis or glaucoma. And to the patient who presented “because things aren’t as clear as they used to be,” you’ll be fully meeting their expectations.

I’m sure many of us skip over the magazine articles about the “latest lens technologies.” Just as the technology to diagnose and monitor glaucoma has changed dramatically in the last decade, progressive addition lenses and lens materials have changed at an equal pace.

Young or old, our patients want the “high-definition” visual experience, just like they do with their TVs, crocheting, reading or sports.  

Optometrists have the unique education that allows us to understand the optics of the new lens technologies and how they can benefit our patients’ visual experience. We need to deliver on our patients’ expectations and “Take Back the Dispensary.”

I challenge you to attend a CE class in person, online or from a magazine on the latest spectacle lens technologies.

Ask to meet with your lab or lens representatives to learn about the specialty lenses that will best benefit your patients’ specific visual demands.

In the exam room, be sure to learn of all the visual demands of your patient and make recommendations to your patient that will BEST solve their visual needs.

And the bottom line: as optometrists, we have the knowledge, the expertise and patients’ wanting our recommendations. Transform the “Optometric Model” to the “Total Patient Care” experience and practice “Doctor-Driven Dispensing” for all your patients’ needs, including spectacles. It will be good for your patients, your practice, and our profession!

Happy Holidays!


November President’s Column: Can we all do more?

January 6, 2009

As I type this column, I’m flying home from Washington, D.C.  I represented the AOA at The National Changing Diabetes® Program (NCDP) Member Association and Partner Leadership meeting.
Fortunately for the AOA and optometry, our previous leaders and staff recognized at the launch of NCDP, in 2005, that optometry plays an important role in the lives of patients with diabetes and offered to be a sponsoring association.  Read more….


October 6 President’s Column: Be Prepared

January 6, 2009

Unfortunately, two close friends’ “real” disasters in their professional lives and the uncertainties that followed their disasters give my partner and I pause to rethink our own ability to restore our practices quickly in the event of a disaster. So far we’ve been blessed to avoid what our friends have encountered,
but we need to be better prepared.