Troubleshooting Optical Remakes
Alexander Bennett is a second year student at Western University College of Optometry. This isn’t the beginning of his optical career, though. Before optometry school, he worked as an optician at a private practice in Denver, Colorado and has had several articles published in optician-focused publications and websites.
Here’s a Scenario: A new patient visits your office after relocating to the area. This patient was recommended to your office by several colleagues who are happy with your services. After his comprehensive eye examination, the patient purchases new glasses and is overall satisfied with the experience of both the examination and ordering glasses in the optical. However, when he puts on his new glasses, he states that he cannot see clearly. Suddenly, the entire experience is undermined – and it’s an error that may cost you a patient, a poor word-of-mouth reputation, and potentially a bad online review of your business. What are you going to do about it?
Where to Start
One way to avoid a bad situation is to make sure that your office has guidelines for the optical in place to help navigate the process to a satisfactory resolution. Next, the patient always needs to provide proper feedback to an optician. Simply saying “this doesn’t work” won’t cut it – and the optician should not offer a recheck without first gathering the facts.
Questions to Ask
Double check every piece of information that you have available. Were the spectacles inspected for errors against the order form provided by the optical lab? Was an outside prescription transposed correctly? Was a computer Rx used instead of near reading Rx?
All of these details are important to verify ahead of calling the patient to pick up glasses. Having a step-by-step troubleshooting checklist can ensure good documentation of the situation and feedback for the optometrist in case a recheck is ultimately advised.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Gathering the facts can lead the optician to make better business decisions. Maybe the patient doesn’t remember filling a distance-only prescription when there was a need for a bifocal or progressive addition lens. Or perhaps the patient has been prescribed a toric lens for the first time and the astigmatic correction is making him feel dizzy.
No matter the case, the optician needs to review internal notes and revisit patient education about the products they are picking up, as well as the conditions for which they are correcting. By taking down as much information as possible, it will help the optician to decide if the patient needs to revisit the optometrist to refine their prescription.
This documentation can also serve the optometrist to further investigate the concerns of the patient and their eyewear needs. It doesn’t hurt to reassure the patient that the office will cover the remake at no cost to them. Most wholesale labs accommodate a free, or very low cost, first-time remake – so don’t worry about a large hit to your bottom line.
I remember when a patient told me they couldn’t read out of their new glasses. I went through every troubleshooting step that I could think of, and I knew that the practicing OD would be really upset if I tried to squeeze in a patient for a recheck. Taking the time to thoroughly review the patient chart and history, I noticed that the patient was developing nuclear cataracts and was best corrected to 20/25-1 OD and 20/30 OS.
It made sense that they wouldn’t be able to clearly read the smallest print on the reading card at the dispensing table. When I asked the patient if they remembered a conversation with the optometrist about developing cataracts, the patient suddenly got quiet, seeming to remember a discussion about reduced vision. Although the patient wasn’t happy when faced with the reality of the situation, the patient calmed down and thanked me for doing my due diligence. I also managed to make a good impression on the practicing OD by saving them chair time.
I want to reiterate the importance of nurturing good opticians, and their importance to the practice. It is important to make sure that necessary exam findings are well communicated to the staff and thoroughly documented, especially if your office has a large staff. By making good notes for the staff, and with proper EMR training, your office will consistent deliver quality patient care, and avoid problems before they can even occur.
This article is part of a series focusing on optical dispensing techniques, tips, and tricks.