The larger the town or city the more difficult it is to incorporate yourself into the healthcare system. You know, being respected by all the primary care doctors in the area you practice. Many patients have a red-eye and end up going to their primary care physician for care. If the primary care physician is unable to help them they are usually referred on to ophthalmology where they typically do not have a long-term relationship with the patient like an optometrist would. With the right approach many of those patients can and will end up in your chair as the primary doctor. If you are dissatisfied with patients turning to other providers for their primary eye care, consider this…
- Letter Writing – With advent of EHRs it is no longer necessary to dictate a letter and send to a transcriptionist. An easy way to communicate to PCPs in your area about your knowledge and ability to care for the eye is to write a 3-5 sentence note in the management section of your EHR. Put the doctor’s name, John Smith, MD, and then type your note that describes why you evaluated the patient. In brief, describe your management plan in terminology they understand and then finish by letting them know they are welcome to call you or refer other cases similar to the one you are treating.
- Phone call – I received a phone call today from a PCP letting me know that he was treating a patient of mine for a conjunctivitis that was not getting better. He gave the history and then asked what I would recommend that he do next. Just as any OD would, I stated my thoughts and recommended that she be seen by myself or one of my colleagues to consider introducing a steroid. He was extremely appreciative and sent the patient right over. I had never talked to this particular MD on the phone, however, I know that I have written many letters to him regarding patient care. He was familiar with the services our office offered. Many MDs don’t know if you are an optometrist that treats primary care or just does refractions. It is based on perceptions and communicating by phone is a powerful tool. Call them the next time you need blood work or an MRI.
- Educate patients – Your patients talk to their other doctors and your patients are a marketing opportunity. If your patients are aware of the medical eye services you provide, then they will communicate this to their primary care doctors. Many times our office will receive a phone call from the PCPs office requesting that we take care of an eye condition. The patient had voluntarily requested that they be evaluated by their eye doctor, which in those cases were one of our doctors. At the end of each exam consider educating your patients with this statement. ”As a patient Wichita Optometry, you have access to our after hours services for any eye problems you may have (ie – red eyes, something in the eye, “pink eye” etc). We should be the first place you call and we file your medical insurance for these cases.”
Good communication is the key to building a practice that is part of the medical community. Many PCPs would appreciate the opportunity to build a relationship with you. It does take time, but once you establish these relationships your medical eye practice will grow.