EDUCATING PATIENTS BETWEEN APPOINTMENTS

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Recommending good, reliable websites is an effective way to educate your patients while boosting your own practice.

When they’re not at your office, patients need guidance and resources in order to maintain proper eyecare. Sure, you can tell them in person about a few good websites, or jot some URLs down on the back of their appointment card (if you do appointment cards!). But how likely are they to really take that advice and go check those sites out? Not very.

The value of patient education cannot be understated, nor should it be. So what’s the best way to share helpful, reliable resources with web-savvy patients? The answer is simple, and it starts with you. Linking to sites with consumer eyecare and eyewear information on your own practice’s website can make you a valuable resource to patients and will keep them coming back to your site (and your practice, of course). Think of your site as a hub or headquarters not only for marketing your practice, but also for content that’s relevant and important to your patients, and most importantly, that they might have trouble finding on their own.

THE VALUE OF A STRONG WEB PRESENCE
Establishing a strong web presence for your own practice is the best possible way for your site to evolve into a resource for your community of patients. Samantha Toth, marketing rockstar at Innerreactive Media, stresses the importance of ECPs having a clear vision for their own practices and then clearly articulating said vision to their patients. “Knowing what content to put on your website starts by understanding yourself, your practice, who your practice serves, and a well-defined service offering,” Toth says. “If you don’t have a crystal clear picture of who you are marketing to and exactly what you’re selling them, the best website in the world won’t get you patients. Put more simply, your website should feature information your patients are interested in.”

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR CONTENT SHARING
On your practice’s Facebook page (and yes, you should definitely have one), it’s important to “follow” several respected organizations from within the eyecare industry. Once you do, your news feed becomes an instant bank from which you can share content with your own audience. Toth explains, “In addition to having a website, a social media presence is also essential to your practice’s marketing success. However, communicating to your patients and prospective patients with social media isn’t about standing on a digital soapbox and shouting your marketing message. It’s about connecting, sharing interests, and building relationships online and offline.”

With that in mind, Toth suggests that only 10% of ECPs’ social media posts be promotional in nature. “People don’t want to be sold to, but they do want to browse interesting information and find their news on social media,” she adds.

CONTENT IS KING
There are several components to a strong ECP website. Here are a few of Toth’s recommendations, but the full range of topics and ways of presenting them are limitless.

  • Well-written eye health articles
  • Professionally developed patient education videos
  • Case studies or patient testimonials
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Interactive learning tools

Yes, it’s a lot. And it should be, as you want patients (and their friends and family!) to keep coming back for more. You likely don’t have the time, energy, or budget to create all of this ever-changing and ever-important content, and that’s where your links to strong consumer websites come into play.

From a copyright standpoint, it is illegal (and ethically unacceptable) to “copy and paste” articles or other content from other sources and “slap” them down onto your website. What you can do instead is set up a section on your homepage for consumer-facing resources (you can come up with a fun name or simply call it “Resources”) and include links to specific articles that will be of interest to your patients.

With all of this in mind, here are a few trusty websites worth getting to know and recommending to your patients, either via specific articles you select and share or by suggesting the entire site as a valuable resource.

All About Vision: Covering an extensive range of topics from eyewear to age-specific eye issues to computer-related vision concerns, All About Vision always has patients in mind. The articles on the site are reviewed by an advisory board of doctors.

Eyecessorize: Keeping its finger on the pulse of eyewear fashion, Eyecessorize describes itself as “The Vision Council’s campaign to increase awareness of the fashion and lifestyle aspects of eyewear.” The site offers helpful explanations of eyewear lingo, including descriptions of frame styles like the aviator, the butterfly, the clubmaster, and more, as well as introductory information about materials and lenses. Users can also peruse specific products from the current season at any given time.

Eyesmart: Sponsored by The American Academy of Ophthalmology, EyeSmart is a public awareness campaign that offers the general public information they need when it comes to risk factors for eye diseases, infections, and injuries. In addition to thorough explanations of diseases, conditions, and symptoms, the website includes timely news and updates, quick tips (don’t put raw meat on a black eye!), and lifestyle suggestions.

Think About Your Eyes: Organized by the American Optometric Association, The Vision Council, and All About Vision, Think About Your Eyes offers specific, straightforward descriptions of common eye problems as well as more serious optical conditions and diseases, details about proper day-to-day eyecare, news, and videos.

WebMD’s Eye Health Section: Googling eye conditions, or worse, using Wikipedia, is a trap almost every computer user finds themselves falling into when something ails them. A better approach is to do a search within WebMD’s Eye Health section to learn more.

Educating patients with user-friendly, reliable information when they’re not at your office will keep them coming back, both online and in person. Be sure to tell your patients that content from these sites should in no way take the place of your expertise as their ECP. This content should serve to supplement your care, not replace it.

Rachel Bozek is a writer and editor who includes the optical field as one of her areas of expertise.

WHERE TO FIND IT:

All About Vision
858-454-2145 • allaboutvision.com

Eyecessorize
eyecessorize.com

EyeSmart
415-447-0213 • geteyesmart.org

Innereactive Media, LLC
888-963-8894 • innereactive.com

Think About Your Eyes
thinkaboutyoureyes.com

WebMD Eye Health
webmd.com/eye-health

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