In part two of their dry eye series, Dr. Frank Bowden and Patti Barkey, COE, CEO of Bowden Eye & Associates, discuss the importance of educating patients and staff on dry eye. You can find part one “Addressing Dry Eye with Patients” here.
When it comes to educating patients on any disease, especially one as multi-factorial as dry eye, consistency is critical. At Bowden Eye, we strive to ensure that our patients hear the same message from each person with whom they come in contact — from the call center operators and front desk staff, to the clinical technicians and counselors, to the physicians. This consistency is necessary in order to avoid communication gaps and ensure the best possible care for our patients. To that end, we ensure each employee is educated on all aspects of the different types of dry eye disease (DED) and our standard of care.
Education for Providers & Staff
At the provider level, we meet as a group once a month to discuss new technology and products and how they might fit into the standard of care we have put into place within our practice. We also go over dry eye numbers and examine how many treatments were performed that month and whether or not any issues arose. Many of our providers and staff personally use the products we advocate for our patients. For instance, approximately 80 percent of our people use HydroEye® (ScienceBased Health) omega supplements. Once the staff has experienced the benefits first hand, it makes a significant difference in their understanding level and ability to accurately communicate information to patients.
On the staff and physician level, we provide the opportunity for all members to attend at least one Dry Eye University program. This allows our staff to see how treatments as a whole come together, from the base science to actual usage. They can then impart information on the multi-factorial effects of dry eye and all the available treatment tools for patients. Additionally, staff members are also required to complete two hours of education each month, whether it is reading a new article or viewing a webinar about DED. Front desk staff may be assigned different educational materials than technicians depending on the level of science involved, however all staff must be well versed in DED and the standard of care which we offer.
Bowden Eye & Associates employees attend a weekly staff meeting.
Staff meetings with providers and staff combined are held quarterly, and weekly clinical technology meetings are also held. We may do quick afternoon meetings or lunch-and-learns with sales representatives in order to learn about new treatment options. We also make many treatment options available to our staff so that they have personal experience to share with patients.
Education for Patients
Patient education begins the moment they call to make an appointment. Our call center staff strives to obtain as much information on the issues a patient has as possible so we can more efficiently educate that patient. Prior to the appointment, patients may be sent an email that encourages them to visit the included links to our site. CheckedUp (Rendia) and Allergan’s TrueTear™ video are some of our most used patient educational tools for information on dry eye. We also send a packet with information especially to our known new dry eye, cataract and refractive patients. Our cataract patients, for instance, will be sent information that details how dry eye can affect the ocular surface pre-and post-surgery including causing inflammation and fluctuating vision post surgery, and explains the reason for the full evaluations that will occur before any procedure. This allows patients to arrive for appointments prepared and informed as to what to expect.
Finally, our counselors will call patients prior to their appointments in order to ascertain the chief complaint, gather as much information as possible, and prepare the patient on what to expect during the appointment. Without this education, patients may experience frustration and dissatisfaction if they come in ready for a procedure and are then told they must wait until their dry eye is first treated. Preparing the patient by introducing them to a counselor they will recognize at the appointment and imparting as much information as possible beforehand aids in managing expectations, compliancy, and patient satisfaction. Additionally, patients are always encouraged to bring a family member to appointments, both to help with decisions and with communicating chief complaints.
Once the patient arrives in office, brochures and educational programs on the TVs or iPads are available, and our technicians continue the educational process, explaining what will happen during the appointment while they perform any necessary diagnostics and gather information starting with the completion of a SPEED questionnaire. The patient then visits with a counselor who prepares the patient for what they may hear from the doctor regarding possible dry eye treatments, products or therapies.
On follow-up visits, technicians and counselors continue to visit with patients prior to the doctor’s examination to assess treatment efficacy and whether the patient is compliant or has further symptoms. The SPEED score has become an important educational metric for the patient, the staff and the clinician. The staff interaction and review of the SPEED score prior to the patient seeing the physician helps prompt or prevent the ordering of diagnostic testing. This also prevents the doctor from ordering further treatments if the patient has not yet complied with the first treatment regimen.
Maintaining a consistent educational approach and standard of care throughout the practice and through every step of the treatment process ensures the best possible outcomes for our patients and helps guarantee patient satisfaction.