Why You Should Stop Advertising “Surgery!”

Why You Should Stop Advertising “Surgery!”

shutterstock_139749922Why should you stop advertising “surgery”?  Because patients think surgery is scary. This fact is never going to change. So, how do you attract more LASIK and cataract patients without advertising ”Surgery”?  I’ll tell you, but first, let’s review some typical ad headlines and why they aren’t working.

It is very common to see ads with headlines such as, “Now Offering Bladeless Laser Cataract Surgery” or “ALL LASER LASIK IS MAKING LASIK SAFER”. These types of ads may differentiate you from your competitors, but they do little to make the public feel more at ease about having surgery.

Continuous advancements in cataract and laser vision correction technology have forced many practices to spend their advertising dollars educating patients about how their technology improves surgical outcomes. But patients already expect you to have the latest technology so there is no motivation for them to respond to technology oriented ads.

Instead, patients who are considering LASIK are more interested in finding out if they are a good candidate for LASIK and what their vision might be like if they decide to have it. And patients who are experiencing diminishing vision due to lenticular changes simply want to know why their vision keeps getting worse.

So what type of advertising DOES work?

Advertising that communicates AFFORDABILITY and offers information that will help patients better understand their vision issues, such as, “Advanced Vision Analysis…. $99.” How do we know this works?  For years, hospitals have been offering inexpensive “Diagnostic Screening Packages” with a great deal of success. They don’t make much money on the screenings but they see a huge return on their marketing dollars, generated from the therapeutic and surgical solutions presented to the patients after analysis of their diagnostic testing.

How can you use this technique in YOUR practice?

Many cataract and refractive surgeons are using the Visiometrics® HD Analyzer on every patient that walks through the door. This simple, two-minute test provides an objective tear film assessment and assigns an Ocular Scatter Index (OSI) rating that measures how much light is being scattered on the retina by the lens. This allows doctors to better understand their patients’ “quality of vision” and each patient’s optical limitations they should consider in presenting the best therapeutic or premium corneal and lenticular surgical solutions.

It will be hard for anyone to say “NO” to a $99 Advanced Vision Analysis that will let them know for sure if they are a good candidate for any type of eye surgery and every patient that responds to your ad could easily become your patient for life.

Can You Say, “Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome?”

Can You Say, “Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome?”

shutterstock_115796800For about 5 years before I had cataract surgery, I complained to my eye doctor that my vision was getting worse and worse. I was having problems seeing my golf ball and reading my computer. His response each year was, “You don’t have a cataract yet. Here is a new glasses prescription and I’ll see you next year.”

Finally, along came the Visiometrics HD Analyzer. Last January, it showed that I had a great deal of “Ocular Scatter” and although I could be corrected to 20/25 with glasses, the test showed a simulated image of how my scatter was affecting my vision.  My response was, “Yes! I’ve been telling you that is how I see, so will you now PLEASE take out my cataracts?”

In most practices, there is a long span of time between being diagnosed with presbyopia and the official pronouncement that the patient has a cataract. Patients know the quality of their vision is progressively declining. But because the doctor can’t always see or measure a qualified cataract, the patient is not given the option of fixing the problem and is forced to live with poor vision for many years. However, many Baby Boomers, like me, would much rather pay for better vision now and avoid waiting to have cataract surgery in the distant future.

Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome (DLS) is a great way to educate patients about lens change and the HD Analyzer is quickly becoming one of the most important diagnostic tools in helping refractive surgeons determine whether the best refractive procedure for any given patient should be a corneal approach or a lens approach.

Dr. George O. Waring IV commented that many of his patients who had LASIK years ago would come in complaining that their LASIK had worn off. “These patients would go on to have a clear lens extraction, however we knew these weren’t clear lenses,” he said. “The term Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome has greatly facilitated what used to be a challenging discussion prior to the characterization of this spectrum of the aging lens’s changes.”

Simply defined, DLS has three Stages: Stage I – 40s to 50s with Presbyopia; Stage II – 50s – 60s with decreased functional vision due to lens changes; and Stage III – cataracts as defined by Medicare. If a 50 year-old patient has a low OSI (Optical Scatter Index) the surgeon can explain Stage I DLS and how they would likely be a candidate for a corneal inlay or blended vision with LASIK. However, if a 45 year-old patient comes in for LASIK and has a relatively high OSI, the surgeon can explain Stage II DLS and that a corneal inlay or LASIK would not make them happy because, to quote Visiometrics motto, “Scatter Matters!”

What do you call a lens replacement procedure when the lens is cloudy but not a Stage III cataract? Dr. Mark Packer in a recent article in Ophthalmology Times said, “Refractive Lens Exchange means the primary purpose of the surgery is to reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses. Refractive Dysfunctional Lens Surgery means that the primary purpose of surgery is to improve functional vision impaired by lenticular aberrations and the secondary purpose of surgery is to reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses.”  I vote for Dysfunctional Lens Replacement but definitely not Refractive Lens Exchange or Clear Lens Extraction (unless the sole complaint is wearing glasses or contacts).

Isn’t it time for eye doctors to stop telling patients that they do not have cataracts when indeed they do? DLS may not be a popular name at this time, but any patient at any age can understand the DLS concept, especially when they are shown the results of the HD Analyzer and how lens scatter affects their vision. With over half the US population being presbyopic and over 80 million Baby Boomers that don’t want to suffer through decades of declining vision, Dysfunctional Lens Replacement has the potential of becoming the procedure of choice for millions of patients in Stages I and II of DLS.

Laser Cataract Surgery: “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”

Bob_CatSxHow many times have you heard that expression? I always heard it when I was making outrageous statements about how much better the Astros or Texans were versus the Royals or the Patriots. But I have “put my money where my mount is” twice now as it relates to my eyes.

I had RK in 1982. I started wearing glasses at age 10. “Four Eyes” was my handle when surfing with my glasses strapped like a tourniquet to my face. Back in the 60s, I remember saying, “If they ever invent a cure for nearsightedness, I’d take it.” (I was hoping it would be a pill!) But even though it involved cutting your cornea up with 16 incisions, like a large Papa John’s pizza, I “put my money where my mouth is” and had it done! (more…)

You Want How Much for WHAT???

shutterstock_184377044How many times have you gone over cataract pricing options with a patient and they ask, “Now explain the differences in your options to me one more time?” Ugh! Having a clear, easy to understand price sheet will not only save you time and frustration, it will significantly increase the number of patients who say yes to your premium cataract options. (more…)