'Selling' the OCT concept to patients

Dr Neelam Patel shares three points that every practice team should consider when 'selling' the concept of OCT to patients

Peoples hands

1. Remember to do your homework

Support staff are often the first point of contact for patients booking appointments and this is a good time to discuss what’s involved with having an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan as part of their next visit. When discussing OCT, keep it simple – you can elaborate or provide a leaflet if the patient wishes to know more. Initiate the conversation by describing what the OCT provides and then focus on the benefits to the patient. It may be useful to work with the practice manager and optometrists to design a crib sheet as a reference. Use this when talking to patients and include answers to a few common questions.

When speaking over the phone, use the time to introduce the concept of OCT and make patients aware it is available

Dr Neelam Patel

2. Ask ‘Who’s it for?’

An OCT scan provides more detail to the optometrist that can help with early detection of eye conditions like glaucoma and macular disease. For younger patients and new patients, having an OCT is useful for establishing a baseline for future eye health monitoring. OCT is particularly relevant for patients with a family history of glaucoma, at increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and those experiencing sudden changes to their central vision. Patients seeking additional reassurance that their eyes are healthy may also be interested in OCT. If you are able to easily identify patients within these target groups, you can provide a more personal reason for recommending OCT as part of their next examination.

3. Set the scene for patients

When booking OCT appointments, you need to be comfortable discussing OCT over the phone as well as face-to-face. It’s often easier to read people face-to-face with the opportunity to use supporting material to reinforce your explanation. When speaking over the phone, you can use this time to introduce the concept of OCT and make patients aware that it is available in your practice. The patient should feel informed about their options, understand what an OCT scan is and why it has been recommended. If the patient is still unsure, they could always make a decision on the day of their appointment. Although challenging at first, over time your patients will become accustomed and increasingly familiar to new services like OCT and it will become easier to promote.

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