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Picture of man with bag over his head and lists of things that add or subtract to your reputation.

Reading time 3:56  


I learned in childhood that reputation is important.  As a result, we need to protect it.  Every action, reaction or response goes into making up our reputation. Our honesty, integrity, reliability and expertise are also contributors.   What we stand for and how we treat others on a daily basis are an integral part of our reputation. As we begin to practice optometry, we realize again how important our reputation is in building a practice and creating loyalty from our staff and patients.

Our words and actions have tremendous impact on every person we meet.  And it influences all future encounters with that person.  But, the consequences are more far reaching than with one individual.  It can also affect all the other people who know and interact with that original person.  In this day of social media, reputation can be harmed by bad reviews, disgruntled patients or former staff. What took us a lifetime to build, can be torn down so quickly. 


I recently read a book written by Tina Seelig titled: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.  In it she expressed the importance of our reputation and the problems inherent with trying to recover from damage to it. Her metaphor was so well done that I wanted to share it with you.  She says,  

“… every experience you have with someone else is like a drop of water falling into a pool.  As your experiences with that person grows, the drops accumulate and the pool deepens.  Positive interactions are clear drops of water and negative interactions are red drops of water.  But they aren’t equal.  That is, a number of clear drops can dilute one red drop, and that number differs for different people.  Those who are forgiving only need a few positive experiences- clear drops- to dilute a bad experience, while those who are less forgiving need a lot more to wash away the red.  Also, for most people the pool drains slowly.  As a result, we tend to pay attention to the experiences that have happened most recently, as opposed to those that happened a long time ago. 

This metaphor implies that if you have a large reserve of positive experiences with someone, then one red drop is hardly noticed.  It’s like putting a drop of red ink into the ocean.  But, if you don’t know a person well, one bad experience stains the pool bright red.  You can wash away the negative interactions by flooding the pool with positive interactions until the red drops fade, but the deeper the red, the more work you have to do to cleanse the pool.”

What a great mental image that creates.  It is such a perfect way to think about how our every interaction either contributes to or takes away from our reputation. It stresses how easily our reputation can be contaminated. But, it also gives us some hope that even with a setback to our reputation, we can recover, though it may take a lot of work.  


Despite our best efforts to offer great care and treat people with kindness, we must accept that we can’t always control how others will perceive what we do. No matter how hard we try and how much we want to control their appreciation for our efforts, the simple fact is -we can’t dictate their reactions.  We can only control what we do every day and adopt an attitude of always doing our best. We must remember that every encounter is important.

And when a problem does arise, we must acknowledge the feedback and be grateful the individual made us aware of the problem- whether real or imagined.  Reassure them that you will look into the issue and make changes, if possible or appropriate, to guarantee this doesn’t happen in the future. Fighting back, being defensive, sarcastic, or insulting are not going to change the situation. In fact, those responses will only make it worse. Ignoring the situation is likewise unproductive.


We need to be aware of the experiences our patients have in our office. Our staff must also realize what an important role they each play in creating that experience. Staff behavior, attitude and interactions influence the reputation of the practice.

Honesty and integrity must be at the heart of all interactions with people.  When you are saying or doing something to “make an impression” it will often fail to create the desired result.  People pick up on insincerity and false or forced responses.  You have encountered people like this.  I am sure we all have.  We recognize that they are saying what is expected of them or what they think we want to hear. But, their actions and responses contradict what they are saying.  We know when someone is not authentic.  We don’t trust these people. 

So the best advice anyone can give you is to be yourself. Be consistent, fair and honest in all your dealings with both staff and patients.  But, remember this also extends to people you encounter in your daily life- your hairdresser, the server in a restaurant, the store clerk, someone in your church, the plumber you called in for help.  They can all influence your reputation in the community.  If you treat people well and are appreciative of their work and efforts, then you leave a positive impression.  However, if you are rude, demanding, unappreciative or entitled, the impression you’ll give is not one you desire.  You’ll never know when you may encounter that person again. In addition, you never know who else that individual may influence. A negative impression from one individual may affect potential patients in the future.


Treating other people as you want to be treated is good advice for anyone.  It enriches your life in so many ways. This principle is called the Golden Rule for good reason. It has withstood the test of time and is found in almost every ethical tradition and religion.  Adopt the Golden Rule in all your dealings with people, whether it is family, friends, patients, staff or just acquaintances.  Treating others with kindness and being fair and honest becomes your default position. You don’t have to think about it anymore. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not have problems, but it does lessen the likelihood. It will serve you and your practice well.  Hopefully, that combined with good care, will serve to protect and enhance your reputation.

How do you handle difficult situations in your practice?  What do you do if a patient approaches you in person?  Or in print?  How do you train your staff to handle awkward situations they encounter or to calm down an angry patient?  Are there set procedures in your office?  In the comments below, please share your ideas of what has worked for your practice.

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Woman on phone in office

Reading time 4:25

Communication has changed a lot in the past twenty years and continues to evolve.  Text communications, e-mail and social media can all be overwhelming.  But, right now, I would like to talk about an old standard- the phone.  Though more and more of our patients are using alternative methods for communicating with our offices, the phone is still important and we can’t ignore it.


The initial impression of your office may be the person who answers your phone.  They are also the first line of communication with your patients for a variety of other reasons.  As such, it is wise to review some basic rules for the phone.  Most millennials and Gen Z’s prefer texting over talking.  But when they are working for you, they need to be adept at both.  

Be sure that your employees realize how important this interaction is to your practice.   But even more important, show them your appreciation when they do it well.  Dealing with the public and their unexpected demands is difficult. We all know that first-hand.

We have all had both good and bad experiences when dealing with patients on the phone.  Sometimes it is a real battle to stay polite.  But, the importance of representing your office well in all patient interactions cannot be stressed enough. 


When answering the phone, especially in a medical office, we need to remember that we’re dealing with many types of patients.  Our patients are of different ages.  They may not have English as a first language. Therefore, they may be difficult to understand or can require a lot of repetition of information.  They may have hearing impairments.  And let’s not forget- they all have different temperaments.  Some are polite and kind, but others are abrasive, difficult or angry.  To handle all these different needs requires a unique skill set. It can be a minefield if handled improperly.

It seems to me that the excessive number of unsolicited phone calls we all receive have given most people a short fuse on dealing with any phone calls.  That is unfortunate for those of us who do have to conduct some necessary business on the phone.  People can be rude, demanding and entitled, especially on the phone.  But, that makes it even more critical to have the right person answering the call and representing our offices.  We must also be certain our staff has the right kind of training and support.


The following are some basic rules to consider when speaking on the phone. These guidelines are also applicable to leaving messages on an answering machine.

  • When answering the phone, greet the caller warmly.  Then give your name and the name of your practice. Follow this by asking how you can help the caller.
  • Smile because it does make a difference in the sound of your voice.  It makes it more pleasant, welcoming and friendly. I must admit I never believed this until I called my sister at work.  My sister, Chris, hates talking on the phone.  She views it as a distraction. I asked the person answering the phone to transfer me to my sister.  I heard laughing as she said “This is me.”  I didn’t recognize her voice! Her boss had instructed her to smile when she answered her phone.  She usually sounds brisk and bothered. This time she sounded friendly and helpful.  I couldn’t believe what a difference it made. It really does work!
  • Speak slowly and clearly.  Your volume shouldn’t be too loud or too soft.  For your voice to be clear, it is helpful to not have the phone too close to your mouth.
  • Your office staff is often required to make many calls to confirm appointments or let people know their glasses or contacts are in.  No one likes these tasks. There is a tendency to rush through the calls just to get it done.  The message is repeated over and over with each new phone call and becomes faster and less understandable as the calls go on.  Remember though your staff has made this call many times, for the person currently on the phone, it is the first time they have heard it.  Try and make it sound professional, friendly and fresh.
  • Ask if it is alright to be put on hold, and listen to the answer before doing it.  What’s the point of asking the question if you don’t care about the answer?  Above all, be sure to thank them if they agree to be placed on hold.  Some businesses give an option- like transferring them to a voice mail to leave a message and then calling them back as soon as possible. Consider what options work best for your office and patients.
  • Evaluate what you have on your hold system.  Is it music, educational or a long running commercial for your office?  How would you feel about listening to it? If it’s music- is it too loud or abrasive?  Sales oriented messages can be annoying, especially if they are repeated over and over. Be sure what the patient hears represents your practice well.
  • When a patient is speaking, be an attentive listener. Take notes if needed.  Try not to interrupt before they have finished what they are saying.  Ask questions to clarify what they need.  If the patient is rambling, then be polite.  Try and guide them so you can find out what they need and then provide it.
  • Don’t argue. Slang and profanity are not appropriate. Avoid too much technical jargon. Don’t chew, eat or drink while speaking on the phone.  Instead of saying “I don’t know”, tell them that you will check on the answer and get back to them.  And then, be sure and do it.
  • Front desk personnel are good at taking down long strings of numbers.  Dates of birth, social security numbers, phone numbers and insurance numbers are a few examples.   Because they are so good at this task, they assume everyone else can do this too. Many people can’t. The numbers most commonly given to patients on the phone are the office phone number, office hours or appointment times. So give numbers in small groups with pauses in between.  And remember, it is helpful to repeat the numbers as well. 
  • End the conversation with a positive and friendly closing like “I hope you have a good day”, “Thanks for calling” or “We look forward to seeing you.”.  Other general information can be given as you conclude the conversation. 


Phone manners are important.  Be sure that your patients, or potential patients, end the call feeling that they are important to your practice. Don’t miss the chance to make a great impression.  Being successful on the phone often requires the combined efforts of a therapist and an actor. Just be aware of how you sound to the person on the other end of the phone.  Treat them as you would like to be treated.

Leave your comments below on your feelings about effective phone communications.  Do all your staff share in phone duties?  What are your pet peeves about phone calls?  What experiences have you personally had?

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Different types of patients in reception area

Reading time 3:34


“A patient is the most important person in the institution- in person or by mail.

A patient is not dependent on us- we are dependent on them.

A patient is not an interruption of our work- it is the purpose of it.

The patient is not an outsider to our business- they are our business.

The patient is not someone to argue or match wits with.

The patient is a person and not a statistic.

It is our job to satisfy them.”

William E. Lower, M.D.

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation

February 1921


I first became aware of this quotation in 1975 when I began working at the Cleveland Clinic Department of Ophthalmology.  Dr. Lower was one of the four founders of the Cleveland Clinic. This was part of his speech at the dedication of a new building in 1921.

In recent years, I realized the similarity to a quotation attributed to  Mahatma Gandhi in 1890.  I suspect that the Dr. Lower quote was a paraphrased version of the Gandhi quote. For your reference, I have also included the original quotation at the end of this blog. Both quotes eloquently express the reason for a patient or consumer based business to exist in the first place. To be successful, we must serve the public and satisfy their needs, for without them our practices would cease to exist.

Most importantly, what was true in 1890 and 1921, is still true today.  It is something we should never forget. 


It is so easy to get caught up, or bogged down, in the day to day running of our practices.  We wish for those early days when all we had to do was see patients.  For example, now we also hire, train and supervise our staff, handle insurance claims and endless paperwork, and negotiate with vendors. Meanwhile we also need to plan for the future and deal with anything else that might come up in the course of a normal day.


Sometimes, it’s just important to get back to the basics.  Stop for a moment and remember why we chose optometry as a career and what we want to achieve.

Reflecting on our underlying goals doesn’t make all our problems and concerns go away.  But, it does put them into perspective and gives us a chance to clear our minds.  It’s an opportunity to just reboot ourselves. In other words, we can dedicate ourselves again to creating an office that truly serves the patients and answers their concerns. But, we can also create an office that is a source of pride and satisfaction for the doctor and the staff.

We need to recognize the importance of the doctor and staff in this equation. If there are ways to decrease stress and tension in the office, then that should become a priority as well.  If we aren’t personally happy, we can’t serve others to the best of our abilities.


Include your staff in identifying problem areas and trouble-shooting solutions. Their inclusion sends a message that everyone is a valuable member of the team.  Each person is then invested in the success of the practice. Remember this is an on-going project.  It does not happen overnight.

Meanwhile consider sharing this quote with your staff as a reminder of the reason we all come to work each day. It can also be a challenge for what you want to achieve.  It could be displayed in a patient care area as well. It makes a clear statement to your patients.   It shows your commitment to quality and personalized eye care. In other words, it stresses how important your patients are to you.  Sometimes that message gets lost for the people who need to know it the most.


Taking the time to find our original motivations can reinvigorate us. Certainly, it can also inspire us to reinvent ourselves and become even better at what we do. Taking care of our patients becomes the most important part of our day. To paraphrase- our patients are “…the purpose of our work.”  When our patients know how much we value them, it helps to distinguish ourselves from other practices.  By making sure patients know and feel how much we care, we can only hope that they will continue to give us “…the opportunity to do so.” 

Everything becomes easier when we concentrate on the “why” we chose to practice optometry.  It might even bring back some of that idealism and enthusiasm that seemed in endless supply when we graduated and started to practice.

For your reference, here is the original quote from Mahatma Gandhi.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.  He is not dependent on us.  We are dependent on him.  He is not an interruption of our work.  He is the purpose of it.  He is not an outsider in our business.  He is part of it.  We are not doing him a favor by serving him.  He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so.”

Have you ever surveyed your patients to see where your practice is succeeding and where they think you can improve?  How do you keep yourself charged up and enthused about what you’re doing?  Share your ideas with us.  In the comments below, let us know what has worked for you in your office.

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Reading time 6:15

We know social media participation is important to our practices.  And of course, we want to do it well. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.  For every inspired post you create, how many more times did you struggle to find something to say?  The fall back post is always something about the importance of routine eye exams, or the latest frames in your office.  

I will try and share some helpful hints for improving social media participation.  Included are ideas that help you make a bigger impact on your audience.  Converting visitors to your page into patients in your office could be a secondary benefit.


You want your pages to have a personality that reflects what a patient will experience in your office. For example, if your office is casual, then the content should not be formal and stiff. If your office is friendly and open, then your content should be interesting and engaging. Consistency across all means of communication is important to your brand.  You don’t want a patient to enter your office expecting one thing and then experiencing something different. 

Today it can be difficult to make a connection with our patients when they are in our offices.  We no longer have the luxury of time to talk to our patients, share common interests and develop a rapport.  That is one way social media can be an asset to our practices. It allows patients to learn more about us in the informal setting of social media. 

It is well known that we relate better to people than to an impersonal business entity. On social media, we can showcase ourselves and our staff as individuals. Or share our hobbies and outside interests.   We can feature the charities we support and show our community involvement.  This information may also be available on our websites.  But, our patients are more likely to be on social media than on our websites. 


One of the biggest problems with social media is we try to treat it like conventional advertising. That is a big mistake! Experts in the field of social media marketing stress that social media is different.

In traditional advertising, the message is what the owner chooses to convey.  But, that doesn’t work on social media platforms. With social media, the emphasis should always be on what the consumer wants and finds interesting.   Social media requires that we orient the content on our pages in a different way. Content needs to reflect the interests of the consumer.  The format needs to have a strong visual appeal. It should be engaging and entertaining. 

You want to create a connection with your audience.  You want visitors to your page to like, comment and share your content.  Comments allow you to begin a conversation with the visitor to your page.  But, sharing increases your audience.  Shared content allows your posts to reach many more people and introduces your practice to a new group of potential patients. But, sharing content will only happen if you provide interesting and engaging content on a routine basis.


You also want visitors to come back to your page to see new posts. Studies have shown that one exposure does not usually convert a visitor to your page into a visitor in your office.   In marketing, there is the Rule of Seven. It says that a consumer must hear the advertiser’s message at least seven times before they take action to buy the product or service.  Other studies have suggested different numbers of exposures. Some say more than seven and some say less.  But all agree that increased exposure to your brand will convert more people from a visitor to a patient/consumer. Don’t let that number discourage you.  Instead use it to inspire you to create better content.


So to maximize the sharing of your posts and encourage returns to you page, content must be interesting and unique.  The types of posts should vary and include photos, illustrations, graphics and videos.  You don’t want all your posts to look the same.  The posts should stand out and capture the reader’s attention.  Content topics should also vary. Alternate between educational information, sales oriented material and miscellaneous posts to inspire or grab their attention. Fun and entertaining input is also essential.

Don’t make your whole purpose, and all your content, sales oriented. That is a huge mistake!  Readers on social media are very savvy to over-selling. They will not stay on your page for long, and they definitely will not return, if all they see are frames and posts instructing them to have an exam or buy glasses. Think about your own response when you see one ad after another. Do you seek out more of the same? You know you don’t!

If the thought of trying to create your own content does not appeal to you, then consider delegating. Do you have a staff member who is creative and loves social media?  They can be a good resource for your practice. They can take your ideas and put them into an interesting post for social media. Keep in mind, there are also social media subscription services who not only create the posts, but post them for you as well.  Our company has a service that we are proud of and encourage you to check it out.


There is so much content available to us.  People can pick and choose what they want to spend their time on.  Make sure you’re providing content that appeals to your target audience or they will not visit your page and spend the time reading it.

 We have become a society obsessed with scanning and rejecting content faster than ever before.  Think about what you do when looking at social media.  What makes you stop and examine something?  What makes you return to a site?  You can learn from other people’s content. Always be observant and try and incorporate the ideas of what you find interesting when designing your own content.  But, also be careful to not violate anyone’s copyrighted material.


To encourage visits to your social media pages be sure to have signage in your office.  Put you social media information on your business cards, receipts etc.

Ask your patients to visit your pages. It never hurts to ask them.  They may not even be aware you have a page.  Don’t be passive and sit around hoping patients will find you on social media.  Encourage them to go to your pages and then reward them with great content.

Contests are also a great way to increase engagement. Read Facebook’s rules on contests to be certain you are not in violation. Rather than having people fill out a raffle ticket- liking, commenting or sharing can earn a person entries into a raffle.  For example, a like could be worth one point. Sharing is more valuable to you and could be assigned a higher value like two entries per share.  Since commenting requires more than just a click, it would have the highest value. This encourages people to interact with your social media page. 

If you are having a contest, you can get creative with the prizes.  Personally I don’t like it to be something from my office like a discount or free frame.  People view this as self-serving.  Patients interpret this as you just trying to get them to buy another pair of glasses because they will still have to pay for the lenses. There are many potential problems when patients want to use their insurances. It can get complicated.  It is not quite the enticement you may think it would be. 

Be creative and come up with something that will appeal to your patients.  Gift certificates to other local businesses can show your community involvement.  Tickets to movies, concerts or games can have high appeal.  

You can find great items on Zulily, Haute Look, QVC and other internet sites. Items that tie in with your frame lines can be a natural like purses or wallets from Vera Bradley, Coach, Kate Spade and other designers.  If you look for good deals, you can get a great gift that would impress your patients and still not break the bank.  You don’t have to do this every month, but doing it now and then can boost the activity on your page.


Take the time to look at your social media presence and come up with a plan on how to improve and expand it.  Share your knowledge about the eye and vision. Remember your excitement when you first learned about the eye and use that when you create content.  Your patients will find it interesting too, especially when you put it in a way they can understand. 

Remember social media is not a static entity.  It changes quickly and requires you to post fresh new material on a regular basis.  It can be an effective tool to help build your practice. But for it to be most effective, you must promote it to your patients and fill it with information they will find interesting. Ask your staff and patients for content ideas.  Be creative. Let your social media pages enhance your patient’s experiences with your practice.  

If you would like to learn more about social media mistakes that are commonly made here is a link to a Forbes article on that topic.

Do you use social media to market your practice?  If so, how did you decide which social media platforms to use?  Do you vary your content from one platform to the next, or use the same content?  How often do you post?  Leave your comments below and share your suggestions on how to use social media effectively.

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Reading time 5:24

Let’s talk about the social media platforms used most often by optometrists.  This discussion will center on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.  Of course, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ are also used by optometrists, but with less frequency.

There are unique characteristics and demographics for each social media platform. Therefore, each platform has different pros and cons to consider when deciding what will work best for your practice.  For example,the creation of content, frequency of posting, and exposure are just some of the factors to consider.

I am by no means an authority on social media. But I have read and researched a lot on the subject and have looked at hundreds of different doctors pages.  So even though I am not an authority, I have formulated some opinions on what works well and what doesn’t.  


It still amazes me that something as new as social media has changed our world in such a short time.  It is so much a part of our daily lives that it is hard to remember a time when it didn’t exist.  Of the major platforms in use today, LinkedIn began in 2003.  Other platforms followed:  YouTube in 2005, Facebook and Twitter in 2006, Google+ and Tumblr in 2007, Pinterest and Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2011. 

There are platforms that are post based formats like Facebook and Twitter.  The image based platforms are Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Tumblr. The video-based platform is YouTube. 

My personal recommendation is to not spread yourself too thin.  As you take on more platforms, you create additional pressure on yourself to keep them all up to date.  Therefore, I recommend that you select one and when you feel comfortable, then consider adding another.  

When you’re deciding where to start, consider running an informal survey of patients in your office.  Find out which platforms are the most popular with your patients and put your efforts there. Or, if you are trying to attract a certain type of patient demographic, choose the platform most likely to attract that group. A good source of this information is:    


For marketing a practice, I feel that Facebook is the best place to start. It is still the largest platform boasting 1.4 billion daily active users.  It has a wide age demographic as well.  If you are looking for people in an older demographic (30+ years and older), then Facebook is the platform to choose. 

Facebook’s format lends itself well to educational posts with information about eyes and vision. But, it is also excellent with general information such as: changes in office hours, trunk shows or events, and new frame lines.

Yet, the most important function Facebook has is its ability to entertain and engage visitors to you page.  Frequent use of posts that are funny or inspirational helps entertain and encourage people to return to your page. Engaging with readers comes when you use games, challenges, or ask questions to start a conversation.  Keep in mind that it is called social media for a reason.  Therefore, the ultimate goal is to get people to comment or share your content with their friends. 

Since we can’t always spend extra time with our patients while they are in the office, Facebook can help us make that connection. In other words, social media can let your patients know you on a more personal level.  One thing that I have noticed that tends to get the most comments on doctor’s pages is personal information about the doctor or staff. For example share staff birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, graduations and weddings if your staff feels comfortable with sharing this information.  Personal information like this is generally well received.  We trust people we can relate to. We find it much easier to be loyal to a person than an impersonal business entity.  


Instagram is also popular with many doctors. Instagram has more than a billion users.  71% of Americans age 18-24 use Instagram.  As a result it is the best platform to reach the patients who fall into the millennial age group.

This is a visual platform which I feel is appropriate for a visual profession.  It is an excellent place to show pictures of your office and staff.  You can also feature frame lines you sell, though I would not suggest that this be the only thing you show. Only using sales oriented content will not inspire people to return to your page. Vary your content.

Study other Instagram pages to get ideas.  Be creative and show your staff in action. Show your work in the community.  Feature things you care about like a charity you support. You could provide links to your blogs if you have some on your website.  You could salute different holidays or celebrations.

Content should be predominately visual and entertaining.  Instagram can educate, but since it is a visual scanning platform, you would not want to use many posts with a lot of text to read. 

Though the visitors to your page can like and comment, it does not tend to promote a conversation as much as Facebook does. You can use some of the same content on both Facebook and Instagram. Get your staff to create content by taking interesting pictures throughout the day.  Have them take pictures of what they think is fun or interesting in the practice.


Pinterest is under-utilized by most practices. It allows you to share what you like including hobbies, fashion, and crafts. Pinterest has 200 million users every month.  It reaches 83% of all women 25-54 years old in the United States.

This is an easy platform to use.  Whereas, Facebook and Instagram both require you to create content, Pinterest does not.  If desired, you can create original content, but most people pin content from other pages in Pinterest. Once you create boards, you do not need to add pins on a regular basis.

It is another visual platform and a great way to show the personal side of you and your staff.  Not only can you have boards that feature eye-related information, but you can create boards that highlight your hobbies and interests. 

Another advantage is that this platform can be delegated to your staff. I would bet that there is someone on your staff who enjoys Pinterest.  Ask them if they want to create and maintain your boards. 

However, I would tell you to be cautious.  Just as anywhere else on the internet, there is good information mixed with false and misleading information. I see some bad information on some doctor pages. Above all you want your page to reflect accurate advice and answers that a patient would receive in your office, so check questionable pins.

We can help you there.  What’s in Focus has a curated page:   Therefore you could direct your staff to that page to get started and know that it has all been checked. We have a wide variety of boards that cover a lot of different topics- some related to eyes, but others that might be of interest to your readers.

We also have a free resource on our website about Pinterest with information on how to get started.


I hope that after reading this you stop to think about how you can improve your social media presence.  Social media can be fun for you and your patients. There are some basic rules to follow.  

  • Post regularly to your pages. 
  • Have good, interesting and varied content to keep visitors to your page entertained and willing to return to see more.
  • Respond to comments or questions promptly. Start a conversation.

Creating a social media persona that is caring and fun can convert visitors to your page into patients. It can also build trust and patient loyalty. Social media can be a valuable tool in marketing your practice. 

If you are overwhelmed and would like help in developing and posting content to Facebook, check out our subscription service:   

How many social platforms do you use in your practice?  Which platform works best for you?  How do you find content?  What content seems most popular with your patients?  Leave your comments below and help other optometrists make social media work for them.

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Reading time 3.26

Ever thought about your superpowers?  Sure optometry allows us to help our patients by taking care of their eyes and visual system.  That’s the reason we all wanted to become optometrists.  It also allows us to make a decent living and provide for our families.  But did you ever stop to consider the superpowers it also grants us?


What am I talking about?  Here are some of my thoughts on our special powers.  We develop excellent night vision from all the hours we spend in a dark room.  My patients often comment about me writing my clinical notes in the dark (in the days before EMR). But, I think nothing of it.  I have become adept at dark adapting and functioning quite well in the dark.

We have great strength in the arm and shoulder muscles allowing us to keep our arms elevated for long periods of time while we refract our patients. This is especially true when faced with that patient who wants to see every choice two or three times.

Our thumbs are powerful from popping lenses in and out of frames.  Strong thumbs and fingers are also vital for prying our patients’ lids open. And even more challenging is keeping those lids open long enough for an examination or instillation of drops. 

We have an odd superpower of being able to recognize the front and back surfaces of transparent materials.  Once we develop this skill, we don’t think about it much. We use this skill daily when examining the cornea and the lens. 

But, it also comes in handy when we inspect lenses for defects and scratches and it allows us to identify the damaged surface.   It is useful when cleaning spectacle lenses, or in windows when at home.  We can tell if a scratch or smudge is on the front or back surface of a pane of glass or a windshield.  I took this skill for granted. I thought that everyone could do this.  But, it turns out to be somewhat unique to ocular fields. It is possible that others may share this ability. However, I still think it is unique enough to qualify as one of our superpowers.

Our spatial awareness is keen since we must reverse right and left for patients all day long. But, there is a down side to this.  When I am giving directions, I actually have to stop and think since my brain is so programmed to reverse right and left for my patients. My sisters know it’s better to watch which way I point rather than listening to what I say.

Weird math skills are also in our arsenal.  To be honest, they’re not really weird, just not skills most people practice anymore. We need the ability to do math in our heads. How many times a day do we transpose a prescription from plus to minus cylinder, calculate a spherical equivalent or just do lensometry?   

But it turns out that we do other things that throw off most people. We are comfortable with both positive and negative numbers.  We have no trouble adding or subtracting numbers with unequal signs.  Subtracting a larger number from a smaller one doesn’t throw us like some people.   If you don’t believe me, then ask someone to subtract- 5.25 from +1.75.  For us, it’s just basic lensometry.  Additionally, we are adept at working with decimal points and especially good at dealing with .12 and.25 increments. 

And let’s not forget the metric system that confounds most Americans.  It’s a snap for us as we move from metric to English measurements while explaining findings to our patients.  Imagine a patient leaving our office confused, and likely depressed, if we told them they had 6/6 vision in both eyes.  Or if we told them that most people work at 40 cm (16 inches) at near.


Joking aside, we know these are not true superpowers. Yet do our patients understand what we really do in an eye exam? I suspect they know our ability to diagnose and treat eye disease and refractive errors.  But do our patients know we are looking for ocular complications of systemic disease and medications?  Are they aware we are checking their neurological status? And that we need to be up-to-date on optics and the design of both lenses and contacts. Do you teach your patients what an eye exam is and how it differs from screenings they may receive other places? If not, perhaps you should consider explaining how much we are doing.

All super heroes require a costume and alter-ego. I’m not sure what ours should be. Do you have any ideas?  Perhaps, we just need a discrete little cape added to our lab coat or maybe an emblem with a giant eye or glasses. I’m not sure what our super hero would wear, but I am certain that our alter-ego would be wearing a great set of glasses (like Superman/ Clark Kent).    


Can you think of any optometry superpowers I missed?  How about suggestions for our costume?  Please leave any comments in the section below.


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Reading time 5.05

I intended to write a single blog on websites.  But, the content just kept growing into now three parts. I don’t think that I can stress enough how important your website can be to your practice.  It is worth taking the time to be certain it represents you well.  It is the cornerstone of your marketing efforts.

As before, I will begin with a disclaimer that I am not in any way an expert on websites.  These are my observations from looking at many different sites.  In doing so, I have formed my own opinions on features I like and other things that I don’t.  There is no right or wrong.  It is your choice.  Everyone has different preferences.  Discuss ideas with whoever created your website and decide on what represents you best.

Transition Speed

We have all seen websites where the presentation of information changes in an automatic set sequence.  This can be photos, copy or both. I have seen this used on landing pages and also with testimonials.  A pet peeve of mine is the transition speed.  Some change images so fast that it is impossible to read the content.  If this happens, you are defeating the purpose of having the feature there because it will not get read.  It is just too frustrating.  If the transition speed is set too slow, no one is going to sit around and wait for the next entry to appear.  There is no reason for this problem.  Transition speed is a simple adjustment.


If your website has links, then check them to be certain that they are still functional and useful.  It is annoying to click on links that do not work. This also applies to links to your social media pages.  I have clicked to many social media pages that haven’t had a new post for months or even years.

If you provide a link to your social media pages, visitors to your site will sometimes click on them. Try and be current. It doesn’t look good when all your posts are old.

I know amidst all the other things that occur daily in your office, it is hard to come up with new posts on a routine basis. There are many companies that can assist you with subscription services for social media. These services will guarantee new posts on your pages at a set frequency and relieve you from the stress of coming up with content.  I feel that my company does an excellent job and encourage you to look at our services.

Links to blogs should also link to new content.  If there are no recent entries, it gives the message that you may not follow-though on other things as well.  This is not an impression you want to give to your patients. I know how difficult it is to write new patient blogs. Remember, there are no rules. Weekly or bi-weekly is nice but not always practical.  It could be every month or every other month. Try and set up some frequency that will work for you.  Adding new content to your website at a regular frequency does help with search engine optimization.

Sticking to a set frequency means you are never in the situation where the most recent post is from a year ago. Just as with social media services, there are also companies that can provide you with patient blogs. Again, I can’t speak for other companies, but we do provide those services as well.  If you are interested in getting more information- let us know.

General Information Checklist

Be certain that your office hours are easy to find.  Address and phone numbers should also be accessible.  Directions to your office are a nice addition to your website. I hate it when I have to go looking for basic information.  Make it prominent on your website and maybe even repeat it in several locations.

Contact buttons for the patient to send a message to you via the website or an e-mail contact are also helpful.  Be certain someone checks them often and follow-up is efficient and prompt.

Consider listing how to contact your office for emergencies. Give general instructions on what they should do if there is an emergency, for example going to an emergency room.

Insurances that are accepted can be helpful information for your patients.  Most sites have this, but if you don’t, you might want to consider adding it.

Patient Forms

Many websites include access to patient forms to complete in advance of their appointment.  If forms are on your website and a patient has filled them out, don’t ask the patient to fill out more forms at the time of their exam.  When a patient chooses to fill them out in advance, they do it to save themselves time when checking in to your office.  A patient will get angry if you then ask them to fill out another form with a lot of the same information.  This is definitely not a response you want at the beginning of their experience in your office.

Website Extras

If your staff is multilingual, use it as a selling point for your practice. Display it on your website by listing the languages your staff speaks.  When a patient is not proficient with English, this makes them feel more comfortable. It might be the reason they choose your practice for their care.

A tool available on some websites allows a patient to click on an icon and translate the website to a different language.   The original translators began with services like Babelfish and Google translator.  My website builder says it requires using a plug-in or an embedded code from a translator service.  I have read varying reviews on these services. I don’t know about their accuracy.  But, if your practice has a lot of non-English speaking patients, it might be worthwhile to investigate it further.  It shows your desire to communicate with all your patients.

A feature I have seen used on some sites allows the visitor to change font size. I think this is a great option for any optometrist.  Usually it is a button you can click on and it makes all the fonts increase in size.  I know that you can magnify anything on your computer, but there are a lot of people who don’t know how to do this. For our patients with decreased vision, an option to increase the font size would be useful.  I do not have any direct experience with this function, but know it impresses me when I see it added to a website. I have included a link to an ophthalmology practice that I refer to so you can see it in use. Look just above the navigation bar.

In Conclusion

I hope that this information inspires you to give your website another look to see if you can make it even better.  It is one of your most valuable marketing tools and represents you all day, every day.  If you already have a website, you don’t have to start all over.  Just consider making small changes to improve on what you already have.

If you have not read the first two parts of this website review, they are in the previous two blogs.  They don’t take long to read and will give you other ideas to consider when reviewing your website.  Even if you don’t make any major changes, just consider reviewing it to make sure it is still serving you well.

We encourage you to make comments on problems you have encountered with your website.  Or better yet, how about sharing your solutions and features that have worked well for you. We look forward to your comments.

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Reading time 3.48

Let’s talk some more about our websites and the many possibilities to improve its impact on visitors to the site.  This is part two of a series on websites.  The first part of the discussion is in the previous blog.

The first blog dealt with the style of your website including choices of font, colors and some information on the content of the website.  I will again tell you that I am not an expert on website design.  What I am offering are my observations about design and content.  My hope in sharing this is to inspire you to look at your own website and make sure that it is doing a good job representing you.  Your website should encourage visitors to your site to become a patient. It should reflect your values and the culture of your practice. Your website is a valuable part of the branding of your office and should not be neglected.

Talk about your Staff- Not the Equipment

So many websites I have visited, list and feature all the new equipment they have. That’s always been a source of confusion for me.  I know that new equipment and staying on the cutting edge is a big investment in our practices. Understandably, we are proud to have this these advances in our offices.  New technology makes us better clinicians with better results for our patients.  I feel that this is why we sometimes feature the technology on our websites.

But, I don’t think our patients or visitors to our websites get it.  I don’t think it impresses them like we think it should.  Patients understand that new technology is important, but I don’t think they realize what it does.   I’m not sure what kind of an impression you get by featuring the equipment in your practice.

When I visit a doctor’s office, I assume that the doctor has the latest equipment needed to provide me with quality care.  Telling me about the equipment and the names of the pieces means very little to me. Have you ever researched a doctor’s office you were planning to visit to see what technology they have available?

Highlight your Staff

Visitors to your website want to know how they will be treated by the doctors and staff in the practice. Patients want to know about the people that will be taking care of them. Be aware of this when writing copy for our websites and social media.   We tend to write so that we will be impressed. Our copy is filled with all the information we think our patients should know.  But the world is different now, we need to write our copy to give the information that a patient wants to know.  We need to look from a patient’s perspective.

If you must brag, then brag about your staff and how quality patient care is everyone’s priority. When a visitor to your site clicks on the staff tab- do they only see information on the doctors in the practice or do you include your whole staff? I have seen it done both ways. I feel that an office functions best when everyone is a team. So I like to see the entire staff featured. This shows patients that you view all your staff as important members of the team.

If you have a large staff and feel it is too cumbersome to highlight each member, then perhaps you could group them by their function on the team. For example feature the front desk receptionists together.  In a similar style, you could group opticians, technicians, back office personnel, etc. That gives a very different message than only featuring the doctors in your practice.

Putting a more personal touch on your website makes you appear more approachable.  If your staff don’t want their last names included, then that’s ok.  Only use information that they feel comfortable sharing. Another advantage of highlighting all your staff is showcasing the years of experience your staff has.  This makes prospective patients have a higher level of confidence in your ability to provide them with excellent care.

Update periodically

Websites offer you the opportunity to make a great first impression.  It’s true it can be a lot of work to create one in the first place.   The temptation to just let your website stand with no revisions or updates can be appealing.  But it is not serving you to its best ability.

You update your office décor and your equipment, so don’t forget your website. Your website is out there representing you 24/7.  Make sure it represents you well. Try and look at the message you are putting out to prospective new patients.  Have your staff, family and friends visit the site and get their input.  You could even ask some of your patients to give their feedback.  Do they think it represents you well? Do they think that things should be added or changed?  It’s not something that you have to do all the time, but it is a wise investment to look at it periodically.



How do you handle staff information on your website?  Do you write a short biography for everyone or only the optometric staff?  Do you feature equipment on your site?  What is your opinion on including information on the technology available in your practice?

Leave your comments below.  Share information on the content of your website that you feel has helped to attract people to your practice.  If you want more information on website review, please read the blog before this one for other suggestions. In the next blog (the third part of this series on websites), we will discuss other possible features that can be added to your site.


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Reading time 5.42

By now it should be obvious that there are good reasons to have a website. A few possible functions of a website are marketing and giving 24/7 access to your practice. It can offer general information about your office policies, hours, directions and insurances accepted.  You might choose to add appointment scheduling, contact lens ordering or other more advanced functions.

But, there are other important functions a website provides.  It can increase connections between you and your patients. Your website could be the first, but hopefully not the only contact, a potential patient may have with your practice. Your website also conveys the culture and values of your office and doctors.  If you choose to use a mission or vision statement you can make a direct statement.  But be aware, it is also conveyed by the tone of the copy on your website. When I discuss copy, I am talking about the written material on your website.  It also applies to the written portion of e-mails and social media posts.

Being honest and up front, I am in no way an expert on how to set up a website or what features you need.  I feel that it is an individual decision made by those in the practice.  However, I will admit that I have examined a large number of websites of optometric practices.  I did this for research when I was creating my own company’s site. There are no set rules for website content. What I am offering here are just my ideas and observations about websites.  You may agree or not- either way is acceptable.  As I said, it is your choice. I do hope that this blog will at least inspire you to examine your site and make changes if needed.

Since there is a lot of information to cover, I decided to write this blog in three parts.  In the first part, I will deal with the look of your site and some thoughts about the copy (written part) itself.  In the second part, I will discuss more about the copy and content of a website.  The third part will discuss other possible features of a website.


How legible is your site? As a visual profession, we should be aware of this. We know that our patients, and thus the visitors to our site, are of all different ages and all different visual abilities. Exercise great care in choosing the fonts and colors used throughout our site.  If a person has to struggle to read it- it won’t get read. To make you website effective, you must remember who your target audience is.

When choosing a font be sure that it is easy to read. Not all fonts are.  Find one that appeals to you, but is also legible.  Try out the print size and font type on some older patients, staff members or family members. Get their feedback on how easy it is to read. I recommend using an older person (65+ years) and a person with reduced acuity if possible.  If you only test it with people who are in their twenties and thirties, you may not get the information you need.

Be aware that you can alter the spacing of the font. You are able to compress or extend the space between letters.  The weight of the font is another variable.  The weight is the thickness of the line stroke of the letter (i.e. boldness).  When I constructed my website, I had them increase the weight of the font to make it easier to read.

The colors used on your website often coincide with your logo if you have one.  Many people have consulted and created a branded look for their practice.  If so, then the colors and fonts used on your website should be consistent with your brand.

Some websites feature a dark background with light letters.  One example would be a black background with white letters. These sites can be striking, but be careful because they can also be difficult to read. When you choose to use a dark background- font style, size and weight become even more important.

Look at how your chosen background color and font color interact.  Colors that are not compatible create retinal rivalry. The results in an unpleasant visual experience.


If you wrote the copy, I would recommend that you ask other people to read it before finalizing it.  It is much easier for someone else to find the places that are confusing or unclear.  Proofing your own work is difficult. We know what we were trying to say, so when we proof our own work it will all seem clear to us.

There are a lot of apps that you can use to help check your copy.  You can use the spelling and grammar checks included in your own software. There are apps like to check for grammatical errors.  I use the Hemingway app  to help me edit my writing. It identifies sentences that are complex and difficult to read.  I don’t always make all the changes it points out, but it does give me an objective way to view my writing.  It will also give you word counts, reading times and reading grade level.

When writing for the general public it, your goal is to write to a seventh to eighth grade level.  Definitely proof your copy and look for spelling mistakes. Typos and spelling errors give the impression that you are careless, sloppy or don’t care.  None of these are impressions you want to give to a prospective new patient.  As a final step, I read my copy aloud and find that this can identify awkward passages.

The written part of your website (copy) should avoid technical jargon- to make it easy to read.  Using technical terms does not impress potential patients.  It can come across as you being a medical snob. Or it can give the impression that your communication skills are not good. Neither is going to get patients in your office.


I don’t like the use of superlatives in website copy.  You may or may not agree, but I think you should at least think about it a little. Examples of superlatives are; “We offer the best care in the county…”, “We were the first to have this piece of equipment or do this procedure…”, or “We are the only ones in the area to have a certain piece of equipment…”.  I dislike them for several reasons.  Number one- they are difficult to prove and often are not true.  Other doctors are always updating their procedures and equipment, so how do you know you are the only one or the best?

Another reason I dislike superlatives is they can paint you as a braggart.  Is that the image you want to project?  There is a fine line between being confident and tooting your own horn and the perception that you are bragging.  I feel you can come across as confident and knowledgeable in a more subtle way that presents you in a more caring manner.  It just takes a little more thought in what and how you write.


I would much rather read something personal about yourself and your practice.  What you take pride in, how you feel about your staff and patients and how you decided to be an optometrist are of greater interest to me.   Including general information on your family and hobbies can also help patients connect with you.  Sincerity is very important.  Don’t make statements because they sound good.  Only make statements that are true.  Authenticity is a desirable trait in today’s world.  Being humble and sharing why you chose to practice optometry can create a connection with your patients. You can share that you stay on the cutting edge of all new changes in optometry without bragging.

Take the time to look at your website and what it says about you as a doctor.  Does it accurately convey your beliefs, goals and commitments to your patients?  Does it make a prospective patient want to visit your office?  And if they do visit you, is their experience going to be consistent with what your website conveyed?

Join us in the next blog for more information on making your website represent your practice and function as an effective marketing tool for you.

What are your feelings about the construction of a website?  Do you have suggestions about features that have worked well for your practice? Share your comments below.

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” 

   Romeo and Juliet   Act II, Scene II

   William Shakespeare (1564-1616)


Reading time 4:30 min.


I have to disagree with William Shakespeare a little.  When it comes to a person’s name, sometimes it is important to get it right. Watching the public interact with strangers, sometimes I want to cringe.  That is especially the case when I am in a more formal setting like a doctor’s office.

My mother is 97 and still sharp.  It strikes me as a little strange and cavalier when we are in a doctor’s office and a twenty year old technician calls my mother Marjorie.  Of course, my mother wouldn’t say anything or correct the technician even if my mom felt it is rude. But quiet acceptance doesn’t mean it is well-received.

My mother is not an exception. Many of our older patients feel it is somewhat presumptuous when addressed in such an informal fashion by someone they do not know. My mom was born in 1921. She is a part of The Greatest Generation (1901-1926).  It was important then to respect your elders. Now that she is an elderly person herself, she feels it is appropriate to ask what name she prefers.

That was not the only generation raised to feel this way.  My parents also ingrained that behavior in my sisters and me.  We grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  I am in the Baby Boomer generation as are many of the patients we see on a daily basis.  We also learned to respect our elders. That rule of etiquette became a part of how we interact with others.  Many in this age group still expect that treatment. I know it may seem antiquated to some people, but I think there is some merit in reviewing and considering this old rule of etiquette.

Some rules of etiquette still make sense in today’s modern world, despite the fact that they are disappearing. Common courtesies when speaking to an individual are important.  Baby boomers learned that if we were speaking to someone our age or younger, then it was proper to use the person’s first name.  But, it was a sign of respect to address people who were older by using their social title (Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.) or their professional title (Doctor, Reverend, Father, Sister, Judge, etc.).  If the person said it was alright to use their first name, then you were able to address them as such.  But, it was only done with their permission.  If they didn’t suggest you call them by their first name, then you could ask for their permission.  But you never used their first name alone without asking first.

Showing respect and some common courtesies to your patients is a simple and inexpensive way you can make your office stand out from others.  To me, that means how you treat a patient from the moment they walk in the door to the time they leave the office.  Phone conversations, e-mails, letters and social media posts should also follow the same rules.

I read somewhere that a good way to look at what constitutes good manners today is to think about how other people may feel about the interaction.  How the recipient perceives your actions is more important than what is the easiest and most convenient for you.

Think about it. Doesn’t your patient offer respect to you by calling you Doctor?  Patients don’t assume they can address you by your first name. They show respect for you and the work you did to earn that title. Personally, I don’t mind my long-standing patients calling me by my first name. In fact, I often suggest that they do. Yet, it would seem strange to me if a patient new to my office began calling me Beth without asking or establishing a relationship with me first. I think that would be true in most offices. If the patient offers us that courtesy, shouldn’t we reciprocate?

Suggestions for today’s offices

There is the argument that everyone has much more informal interactions these days. But that doesn’t make it right in every situation.  It is never wrong to be polite and considerate. Always ask a patient if you can use their first name.

If you don’t want to be overly formal by using social titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.) then at least use their first and last name on your initial encounter until you know how they want to be addressed.

Don’t assume you can shorten their name (i.e. Bill for William or Cindy for Cynthia, etc.).  Ask them the name they prefer.  Show your respect for them by always asking first.

When a patient has given me permission to use their first name, I generally put a note in the chart to indicate I have their permission to use it.   If they prefer a shortened version or nickname, I also record that.  When their name is difficult to pronounce, I try and write it in phonetics so that the next time I meet them, I will pronounce it properly. People will notice your efforts to use their name correctly.

We all want to make our offices stand out from others. Why not try this simple trick- be polite, courteous and sometimes maybe a little old-fashioned with manners? So few people offer these courtesies any more, you will stand out as special and unique just by being polite.  Don’t mistake good manners, respect and common courtesies with being formal or stodgy. An informal, fun, casual environment can still be respectful.

There are many ways to distinguish our practices. Each practice must decide what works best for them.  Offering state of the art care with the best staff, facilities and equipment accomplishes that goal.  I don’t disagree with that and in fact, encourage you to always set a high standard for the care you offer. But be aware, these changes might not always have the impact you are expecting.  If you ignore some of the simple and basic rules of dealing with people, your patients may not even notice what you think they should see.  Patients come back to your office because of how they felt about the care and attention they received while in your office.

Greet a patient with a smile. Shake their hand.  Have a friendly tone to your voice in person or on the phone.  Make eye contact and give them your undivided attention.  Treat them as a valued visitor to your office and not as an inconvenience to your day.  When they leave your office, they should know without a doubt that you valued them, cared for them and want them to return.

For more information on the thoughts and values of different generations of patients seen in your office go to

How is a patient addressed in your office? Do you have a set policy?  Do you feel it is important to consider this issue of names?  Leave your comments below.  Share your ideas on how you handle this in your office.  Let’s start a discussion.