COVID-19: Tips for Staying Connected with Dry Eye Patients

During this turbulent time practitioners and clinic owners need to adapt to a new way of providing care to their patients. Below, co-founder of Vision Optique in Texas, Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee divulged how she managed to stay connected with her patients during the closure of her practice.

“Flying home from a conference on March 7th, absorbing the latest news about COVID-19, I knew I needed to implement a shutdown strategy upon my return. When we closed on March 21st, we were prepared to continue remote services where possible and stay connected with our patients, including a large number receiving comprehensive dry eye management.”

Here are some of Dr. Shen Lee’s best tips to help you stay connected and serve your dry eye patients during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Update patients about dry eye procedures and supplies

“Before our office closed, we alerted all dry eye patients about the closure date and encouraged them to stock up on the products they would need for the next 3 months. We continued doing scheduled IPL (Optima IPL, Lumenis) and other procedures until shutdown, even moving up some procedures.  My medical assistant and I spoke by phone with about a dozen patients who were in the middle of a series of four (4) IPL sessions and explained that if the Stay Home – Work Safe order was prolonged, IPL would still be effective, but we might need to add a fifth session. Everyone understood.”

Encourage continued home care

“Most of our dry eye patients have individual treatment plans that include a daily hygiene routine for lids/lashes, preservative-free artificial tears, prescription medication and nutritional supplements. In our e-newsletter communications with our patient base, we have included a special section for dry eye patients and emphasised that following their plan will help them to feel better throughout lockdown and maintain their ocular surface health.”

Offer remote services

“Prior to the office closure, we set up secure remote EMR access, arranged online credit card processing, transferred office calls, informed our patient base, and moved administrative operations online. During the closure, team members answered calls and emails Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our doctors offered telehealth consultations and provided medical eye emergency care at the office while observing strict disinfection and PPE protocols.  We arranged either product shipping or scheduled curbside dispensing for those patients that needed additional dry eye supplies. Our patients have appreciated the fact that they could reach us easily during the closure and their needs were taken care of in a timely and safe manner.”

Stay visible and positive in social media feeds

“Since everyone is at home staring at their devices, we have posted regularly on our Instagram and Facebook accounts (@visionoptique) and on LinkedIn. In my own Instagram account (@DrBridgitte), my COVID-19 journal with 1000+ stories had been viewed tens of thousands of times. Some of our posts offered a reminder to patients to continue dry eye home care, as well as explain the dry eye services available after we re-open.”

Focus on what’s next

“Our team is building a brand-new website to promote our specialty eye care services, including the Dry Eye Center, and our online store for ocular surface and cosmetics products.”

Dr. Shen Lee speaks on the importance of clear and compassionate communication throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening transition will be easier for dry eye patients if practices have stayed in touch with them during the closure.

Lumenis’ innovative technologies offer high level of safety measures and long-lasting results for the Dry Eye Disease. The Optima IPL device is a revolutionary solution to a drug free, drop free light-based treatment option. It treats the dry eye disease at the root cause – chronic inflammation.

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