The threat of two feet of snow is a pretty good reason for closing an office—which is what Tina Vu Kelly, OD, of Alexandria, Virginia, did as a late January snowstorm hit the mid-Atlantic region. Amid predictions about exactly when the storm would hit, she canceled patients starting at noon on a Friday, which left time for staff and patients to get home or just stay home. The use of Solutionreach’s system is one of the efficiencies practices can gain now that so many patients can be reached via smartphones, email and social media. New patients are offered options: Solutionreach sends them a welcome message and allows patients to unsubscribe.
Solutionreach also helps practices develop a positive online brand by contacting patients after appointments. The feature allowing patients to request appointments is especially valuable for both patients and staff. Solutionreach also helps keep track of the practice’s substantial patient base by sending out the annual appointment reminders to patients when it’s time for them to come back in. When she first signed on about two years ago, she estimated that Solutionreach was providing services equivalent to a part-time staff person—at a lower cost. All four employees benefit, she says, because they all have fewer phone calls to make and follow-ups on their to-do lists.
The town has a population of fewer than 10,000 people, and there’s been no OD in town since 2002.
She says that the primary care physicians also appreciate having someone who will take over eye-related issues for them. Just as she has the latest technology in the exam and pretesting lanes, it’s also important that she offers her patients the kinds of frames that they would want.
As seen in Women in Optometry, September 2015 IssueJaclyn Munson, OD, joined the Weatherford Eyecare Center, a VisionSource® practice in Weatherford, Oklahoma, two years ago.
Solutionreach, which offers a robust menu of services as part of a standard package, has teamed with Eyemaginations. The surveys that are sent to patients two days after their exam or after new prescription eyewear has been picked up have helped the practice build on its reputation for excellence. The comments from these reviews help the practice address these situations and improve patients’ experiences.
This fall, the practice will add iPads for registration for patients in the reception area and instant eyewear notifications.
Andrea Greer, RDH, BS, is a practice management advisor for Jameson, an international management coaching and marketing firm. Do you and your team understand that selling dentistry is the best and highest form of sales?
When a patient comes to you with a problem and you provide them a solution, this is Consultive Selling (High Complexity and High Experience). Shifting from selling to solutions moves your vocabulary from treatment plan to treatment solution. Door to door salespeople or evangelists are people with high integrity, but are still interruption based.
For years, the example of low integrity sales has been the car salesman, although not every car salesman sells with low integrity. Hear Ken Runkle speak at the American Academy of Periodontology annual meeting in September.

ARNOLDKris Strecker, Perfect Smiles Dental CareMark Stoffregen DDSLisa, Office Manager, Dr.
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If the patient hasn’t picked up his or her order in two weeks, Solutionreach sends a followup message. Kelly signed with Solutionreach back in the fall, after having previously used a system from a different provider.
They can also update their contact information online if they want to change how they’re contacted.
Kelly opened her practice in 2008 next to a Sears Optical in a major suburban Virginia shopping mall and moved to an independent setting in her current location a few miles away in 2013. The next nearest optometry practice is 35 miles away, which is also the distance to the closest ophthalmology practice. But she has also developed a strong referral network among the local primary care physicians.
For example, she says that she has detected diabetes in a number of patients through a comprehensive annual eye exam, and she detected another patient with a malignant melanoma in the eye. Riley says that she and the staff stepped up their social media presence once the practice signed on with Solutionreach, too, as a way to keep patients informed of the new technologies and products that were coming into the office. One of her first initiatives was to increase the amount of communication between the practice, its patients and the community.
At the time that patients schedule their appointment, they receive a confirmation text or email or both. Most fees and co-pays are collected at the time of service, but those patients who have a balance after the insurance has been processed can get friendly billing reminders at 30, 60 or 90 days. Auto sales are permission-based sales because the customer gives permission to be sold simply by driving on to the car lot. Kelly has been using Solutionreach, a software platform that handles all types of communication with patients. The service contacts patients via email, text or a phone call—depending on the patient’s preference—to remind them of appointments.
I’d estimate now that Solutionreach services are about the equivalent of one full-time employee,” she says. If a patient cancels, the staff can turn to its waiting list, which includes the names of patients who have said they’d like to be notified if an earlier appointment became available. People like the relationship we’ve built with them in five years, and patient communication builds loyalty. When she first opened, she visited their offices, dropping off a gift basket and inviting the doctors to come in for an eye exam. We have a number of low-income patients, and we have patients who want and are willing to pay for stylish and unique frames.” By asking patients in the latter group what they’re looking for, she and her optical staff have expanded the product offerings and lines that they carry. The company’s support team has helped me with all kinds of issues, from how to post survey responses on our website to how to create newsletters,” she says. We had five people show up within 10 minutes of that email going out to pick up their eyeglasses and contact lenses.
This sale is not solely based on what is being sold, but the relationship you have with the client.

You open the door and after they make sure you do not want what they are selling, they tell you to have a nice day and leave. Do not shrink from the opportunity to leverage these realities as you close the sale and provide your patients with long-term health solutions. So letting patients know about canceled appointments and when the practice would be reopening once the storm had passed was done with just a few keystrokes at the computer. They can, for example, request appointments, check their account balance and make payments,” she says. After enough patient surveys are collected, Solutionreach makes the results available online. That message can be sent to these patients electronically, so filling in the gaps in the schedule has become much easier, too. Also, our patients want to see that we have the technology that a larger, urban practice would have,” Dr. Riley was adamant that her patients would not need to settle for less than they would receive if they traveled for their care. At that point, she’d have a chance to show them the advanced technol- ogy, including Optos, a Heidelberg Spectralis with BluePeakTM blue laser autofluorescence imaging and a visual field analyzer.
But now, the practice Facebook and Twitter pages share patient reviews and announce products and events, and the practice sends electronic newsletters to patients as well.
Being able to communicate like that with our patients extends an arm of care outside of the structure of the building.
We did an eblast on the importance of sunwear and UV protection, and by the end of the month, we had very few pairs of those sunglasses left,” Dr. Munson makes sure that she responds to any patient who voices a complaint on one of these surveys. This is a must read for everyone involved in your practice involved in the selling process.
Kelly and her associate, Cynthia Reynolds-Temple, OD, who has been in practice for more than 20 years, both work full time, and three part-time ODs work there, as well. We were calling patients to confirm appointments or to let them know that their eyewear or contact lenses were in. They need to make that trip again to pick up or even adjust the eyewear and buy their contact lenses. But the number of reminder phone calls that the staff now has to make has dropped dramatically. Our practice works with higher-quality labs, and that sometimes adds a day or two onto the process. They’re also sent a confirmation notice two days before the exam,and they receive a reminder on the day of the Rural practice increases its outreach beyond the patient visit Women exam.

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