July 1, 2021
By Pamela Capaldi, BSc, AAS, FAAO, Optometric Technician
The bottom line is that if we can re-educate parents, we can grow myopia management, which offers life-changing treatment to so many children.
Do you ever wonder what the parent asks your technician when you head back into the exam room? Well, I can tell you. They often ask for re-confirmation and triple confirmation and have various questions about the information you just shared. It’s often that all-encompassing question from mom or dad. “Wait, what?” they may say to your technician. “Can you start from the beginning again, please? What did the doctor mean?” That broad, open-ended question demonstrates that they often ask for the words and explanation in “parent-speak.”
What parents “feel” from the team you have built around you is critically important for building trust. I am an optometric technician. I like to always begin from that place, where I am the bridge between the doctor and the patient. Now, with myopia management, I need to add lots of parents as pedestrians to my bridge. We all have a big job to do in re-educating our parents walking over that bridge, and the technician is critical in bridging that education gap.
Training the Technician
As we all know, there are a lot of moving pieces when re-educating parents about myopia management. How much the technician understands and can confidently convey to a mom or dad is critical. Training technicians is an underserved area in our profession. Often there is no time and a lack of organized materials, so technicians simply shadow other staff members. With little opportunity for proper learning and comprehension, technicians are doing their jobs, working on their feet, and gaining knowledge as they go.
However, two staff training programs in the myopia management space can help. While CooperVision’s Staff Training Program is company supported, it is an excellent resource for your team to learn about myopia management — and it’s free. The Brien Holden Vision Staff Training Program, which I worked on with optometrist Michael Morton during the developmental stages, is also excellent. The advantage is that it is offered from an academic/research perspective, but there is a $95 fee for the learning modules. The program provides critical guidance in key areas, including: why myopia management is essential, different management strategies, appointments, communication, and marketing. The course consists of six modules, ranging from 30 to 60 minutes in length (four to six hours total). Each module consists of interactive content, questions, videos, and polls.
Communicating with Parents
So, do you want to know what parents ask once you are back in the dark exam room with the next patient? Here are the first three questions they will invariably ask:
- “Wait, what? With a price tag like that for ‘ongoing treatment,’ how long does my child need to be enrolled in a myopia management treatment program?”
- “Please, back up. It’s how expensive?”
- “Can you explain how it works and why my child will benefit?”
The following scripts will help you provide some answers in “parent-speak”:
“How long does my child need to be enrolled in a myopia management treatment?”
Remember, this may be the first time the parent has heard of myopia management, so they are hoping to better understand the scope of the treatment with a question like this. This question shows they are comprehending myopia management as an ongoing treatment.
“Well, Mom, it’s all about growth. The growth of your child’s eye is what is affecting their myopic progression. If your child is in a growth spurt, the doctor may want to consider prescribing a stabilizing myopia management treatment. Think about it: Your child’s growth years can range anywhere from 5-10 years. The doctor will determine how they are responding to the program, but on average, thinks that they will be enrolled in treatment during their growth years.”
“Please, back up. It’s how expensive?”
If you have a parent questioning the cost of the treatment, it could mean that they do not understand the value. Each practice needs to settle on a price point that you feel confident with. There needs to be a solid explanation as to how you reached the value at your price point. Did you calculate your chair time, add in the wraparound extras to the program, consider the mark-up to the product you’re prescribing? Thoughtfully calculating all the parts of your treatment program will help you and your techs present the pricing with confidence and show its value.
“Dad, our myopia management fee is broken out as ($X) for the exam, myopia consultation, chair time, and all follow-up visits for the full year. This is an annual treatment program, so the professional fee covers everything for the year. Then, the product fee is ($X). Together, the total is ($X). We offer a few payment options. Can I go over those with you?”
“Can you explain how it works and why my child will benefit?”
You could spend a lot of time going over the answer to this question — a lot of time you don’t have in the pace of your daily patient schedule! The best place to start is to provide some written materials on what myopia is and what myopia management is. Sending home something written enables one parent/partner to share it with the other.
“This is all about the growth of the eyeball. It used to be that we could only compensate and compromise by prescribing a stronger pair of glasses each year. With new treatments approved by the FDA, we can offer you a treatment program that will do something to slow progressive myopia. As your child grows, this will benefit them by slowing their myopia and offering clear vision that can change their life!”
There are so many questions that parents ask, and these are just a few. The bottom line is that if we can re-educate parents, we can grow myopia management, which offers life-changing treatment to so many children.
Creating a Strong Team with Technicians
Taking the extra time and putting in the effort to craft a cohesive plan for yourself and your staff to deliver state-of-the-art myopia care will build a foundation for you to succeed in this ever-expanding scope of practice.
As the prescribing doctor for myopia management, you must build a strong team around you. Many times parents may be embarrassed to ask you a question as the doctor but feel more comfortable with your staff, so be sure they are well informed about myopia management. Parents will sense your confidence in your transfer of trust to your knowledgeable technicians.
Pamela Capaldi, BSc, AAS, FAAO, is an optometric technician who currently works as a Myopia Management Specialist at CooperVision. She has experience with the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the International Assocation of Contact Lens Educators, Bausch & Lomb, and CIBA Vision/Clinical Studies. She has worked in the eye care field for more than 20 years in various roles, and she is passionate about the critical role of optometric technicians. For more information on staff training, contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org.