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What I have learned

“It’s all down to good communication”

Director of marketing and national accounts at CooperVision, Mark Draper, and optometrist and founder of Ellis & Killpartrick Opticians, Mike Killpartrick (pictured), discuss the contact lens company’s Stories from the Chair competition

27 May 2019 by Andrew McClean

What is the Stories from the Chair competition?

Mark Draper (MD): The concept of Stories from the Chair was quite straightforward. We wanted eye care practitioners to share examples of how they have changed their patient’s lives for the better simply by fitting them with contact lenses. It was about how they spend their chair time and how it has made a difference to the patient.

Why did CooperVision decide to launch it?

MD: We’d been looking at the concept for a year before launching it. We’d heard from practitioners over the years and I’ve seen from my personal experience as an optometrist how fitting somebody with contact lenses can really change their lives. It goes beyond vision correction or how it can help with functional things like playing sport and is more about giving them confidence and a sense of freedom. We wanted to share their real stories, so that practitioners were aware of the impact they can make every day rather than thinking about contact lenses as a functional option.

Why is it important to celebrate the importance of chair time?

MD: We know about the great work that practitioners do every day, so this was a way of celebrating that. I think chair time is something that comes under a lot of pressure. People are busy and have a limited amount of time to do an eye examination. So, the competition was about the value of that chair time and taking an extra minute or two to talk about contact lenses as an option and unlocking potential for patients. Chair time is quite precious and something practitioners have to watch the clock on, so the value of using that wisely is enormous.

“We wanted to share their real stories, so that practitioners were aware of the impact they can make every day rather than thinking about contact lenses as a functional option”

Director of marketing and national accounts at CooperVision, Mark Draper

How does the competition help raise the profile of a practitioner?

MD: In some of the research CooperVision has carried out, feedback was about raising the profile of practitioners. We asked patients about who initiated the discussion about contact lenses and asked both glasses and contact lens wearers if they expect their practitioner to tell them if they are suitable and an overwhelming majority said that they did. We then went further and asked what difference that made to the reputation of the practitioner. They said that by simply telling patients about those options that it would increase their reputation and make them more likely to recommend their practitioner to someone else.

How can practitioners enhance their chair time?

MD: These stories show the importance of exploring the patient’s current vision correction, how it is impacting them and guiding the communication around that. For example, phrasing things the right way such as asking, ‘Have you thought about contact lenses’ to ‘At what times would you like to not wear your glasses?’ That can help on the communication side of things. Also, making a recommendation based on that individual’s needs. We know today that most people want the convenience of a daily disposable but also they want the latest technology, such as a silicone hydrogel contact lenses, to give them the freedom of longer wearing time.

What did CooperVision learn from the stories that were shared?

MD: It highlighted how simple things can be enhanced by wearing contact lenses. One story in particular was about a young girl who was having a lot of anxiety attacks when she went outside and rain got on her glasses. Hearing that story took things to a different level emotionally and highlighted the impact that vision can have on the patient and their family. It reminded me about, and made me appreciate, the surprise people get when they learn that they can wear contact lenses having not been told about them before. We also heard the response of the practitioner and how much enjoyment they got from fitting contact lenses and seeing the difference it can make.

“It highlighted how simple things can be enhanced by wearing contact lenses”

Director of marketing and national accounts at CooperVision, Mark Draper

Why did you decide to enter the Stories from the Chair competition?

Mike Killpartrick (MK): A patient of mine had particularly difficult vision. She is a skeleton slider – she lies face down on a sled with her chin about an inch from the ground and hurtles down an ice slope at 90mph. She had a high level of astigmatism and needed 100% vision when she was participating in her sport. I fitted the patient with toric contact lenses, which need a bit of tinkering about with to get the prescription as precise as possible. I was really interested in her case and contacted CooperVision to explain that I had managed to meet the challenge by fitting her with a pair of their contact lenses.

Why did you think it was important to share your story?

MK: I entered because the patient was in a very challenging environment and a lot of people might think that it would be difficult to correct her vision with contact lenses. It was a fantastic result and we were very excited about it. It also encourages other practitioners to get involved with contact lenses. I think you are missing quite a bit from your offering if you don’t promote contact lenses as an option at your practice. Contact lenses have the capacity to solve a lot of vision problems. In this case, there was no way that glasses would have worked for the patient.

“Sometimes I just let patients test drive the contact lenses and hopefully they give you a positive response when they come back”

Optometrist and founder of Ellis & Killpartrick Opticians, Mike Killpartrick

What is your approach in the chair?

MK: It’s all down to good communication and finding out exactly what they require. It’s about having good conversations and measuring that against what you can deliver when fitting contact lenses. Sometimes I just let patients test drive the contact lenses and hopefully they give you a positive response when they come back.

How does it feel when you get positive feedback from patients about their contact lenses?

MK: It is one of the most rewarding experiences. The majority of optometrists will enjoy it more when you get this kind of outcome. Particularly if you find a solution that really makes a difference.

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