As an independent optician I never like to rest on my laurels. A key question that I ask myself continually is: “What’s next?”
However, I admit that when it comes to new technology, I often get a headache. Despite being 35, I consider myself somewhat old fashioned – I prefer a book over an electronic device or smartphone. In fact, my old fashioned Nokia mobile gets quite a few odd looks.
Technology grumble over, I do believe that independent practices need to move with the times. And when it comes to diagnostic equipment, I roll up my sleeves and study.
One of the best additions to my practice is the macular pigment screener (MPS). It not only provides one of the best health checks for my patients, it is also one of the best marketing tools that I have.
"The MPS won't break the bank for practices that are either a bit tight with money or are just starting out. I am confident that the machine will pay for itself many times over because practices can offer it as part of an upgraded eye test"
Standing out from the crowd
Not many other practices in my area have an MPS. In fact, I believe my practice is the only one in the county.
As we are all aware, people are living longer. While this is good news, with the increasing ageing population, the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) grows. What I say to my patients, and in a lot of my external marketing communication, is that the prevention of AMD is far better than the cure, because there isn’t a cure currently. And the MPS helps me with this prevention.
Screener in action
A lot of practice owners, especially when starting out from scratch, think that if you build it they will come. But with first-hand experience of establishing a practice from scratch, I know that this is not the case. Practices need to stand out in the crowded market, and, unfortunately, thanks to the internet and discounted bucket shops, optometry is being dragged down to a commodity. An eye test is like a bag of sugar. Why pay more when so-and-so does it for free?
Practice owners need to break away from this race to the bottom on price and start to think about how they can differentiate their practice and justify their prices. The MPS does just this.
I offer the MPS as a premium priced eye test upgrade.
As we know that AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in the UK for the over 50s, and as the target market for my practice is the 50+ range, the MPS fits perfectly with my ‘average’ patient. I find that this group of patients are more interested in looking after the health of their eyes and are happy to pay more for a superior service.
When I introduce the MPS to my patients, I explain in simple terms what it does. “The MPS enables the early detection of people at risk of AMD before any physical damage starts to show in the eye,” I tell them.
I also love this machine because it is very simple to use – even a technophobe like me can work it out. Furthermore, due to its simplicity, if you are the optometrist and are pushed for time, the tool can be easily delegated to support staff.
As an optometrist, I have also found that getting involved with the MPS and setting up special clinics and management plans for my patients provides me with not only a change of scenery from day-to-day routine testing, it is actually very enjoyable working with people and boosting their macular pigment levels.
Yes, the MPS is fun. You get to see if your management plans are working and when your patient knows you have got their macular pigment to a ‘normal’ level, you become God-like. I’m not kidding, I have once been called ‘the eye God.’
As a final bonus, the MPS won’t break the bank for practices that are either a bit tight with money or are just starting out. I am confident that the machine will pay for itself many times over because practices can offer it as part of an upgraded eye test.
Even if a patient has no clinical need for the machine, I still mention it as we often then get responses such as: “Oh, I’ll tell my neighbour about that.” Therefore, it has proven to generate new patients via word of mouth recommendations.
My advice to all practice owners is that if you currently don’t have an MPS, get one.
For more information, visit Mr Prouse's website.