Do you find reducing patient anxiety to be your biggest challenge some days? According to Optometry Today, a study of 366 patients once revealed that practitioners “cannot assume that anxiety is reserved for one ‘type’ of patient,” but rather those patients that fall into a certain classification, such as high anxiety personality types, patients expecting to receive some bad news, and those who currently don’t wear glasses or contact lenses.
Anxiety can make an eye exam uncomfortable and very stressful for your patients. Optometry Today further notes that there is a distinct tie between patient anxiety and lower levels of satisfaction after their exam, which is why you should not only take the time to learn what makes patients feel anxious, but also learn how you can effectively use strategies to decrease anxiety. Below are a few suggestions outlined by Optometry Today:
Identify the Source of Anxiety – Talk with patients before the exam to see if they feel nervous about any aspect of it and then modify routines as needed to help reduce anxiety.
Be a Good Communicator – Practitioners should communicate in a way that’s easy for the patients to understand, such as putting their condition into laymen’s terms or explaining the exam process and any information the patient needs to know “in a clear and realistic way.” Patients should be involved in discussions and in all decision-making processes.
Offer Written Information – Providing patients with written information helps clarify misconceptions, establish accurate expectancies, and the understanding of pathology following an exam. It also helps patients recall and understand what’s been discussed.
It is important to note that children may naturally be anxious upon their first eye exam as it is a new experience for them. Practitioners who treat children can recommend that parents or guardians prepare children for the exam by explaining what to expect and encouraging them to ask questions. Optometry Today also suggests the following when preparing for children’s exams:
- Asking parents if the child shows any signs of covering or closing an eye; eye turning; complaints of headaches; or rubbing of the eyes.
- Talking with kids to help ease their nerves. For example, ask them about their favorite subjects in school, what TV shows they like to watch, or what books they enjoy reading.
- Make the exam fun by explaining the device you’re using and what it does and keeping toys around.
In addition to taking the time to learn what makes your patients anxious about eye exams and developing strategies to help ease anxiety, it also helps to use patient-friendly technology. Optos’ ultra-widefield imaging technology and devices are extremely patient-friendly, providing a quick and painless exam that is appropriate for patients of all ages. Visit our website to learn more about how our technology can benefit your practice.
What strategies do you incorporate to your practice? Leave a comment below to share with us.