When integrating a dry eye system in the office, there are ways for every staff member to be involved—from check in at the front desk, where patients receive a questionnaire, to the tech completing the diagnostic testing and data collection. And while it took some trial-and-error to determine the best method and routine, Hardeep Kataria, OD, FAAO, says that having one key support technician for her dry eye initiative has been a key component in her success. “I trained her how to interpret the testing and data and how to talk to patients before I go into the room,” Dr. Kataria says. “The tech has already primed the patient about what’s normal and abnormal, the tear lab and the meibography. This education saves so much time. You don’t have to do it all, and you can see more patients.”
Next, Dr. Kataria follows up with anterior segment photos and reviews the treatment plan, which the tech reviews again with patients when setting up their next appointments. This technician becomes a trusted contact at the practice for patients. “It’s important when patients call when I’m not there that they can go to one person.”
Dr. Kataria’s technician also now performs treatment procedures while Dr. Kataria simultaneously sees glaucoma patients in the clinic. “We didn’t used to do that, and now we aren’t losing that revenue.”
While Mahnia Madan, BSc, OD, FAAO, doesn’t yet have a dedicated staff member solely for dry eye, she regularly does have a technician sitting in for the consultation. “When patients hear their diagnosis for the first time, it’s overwhelming. They need to hear it a few times.” After Dr. Madan reviews a treatment plan and products, the technician sits down with patients in a quiet space to cover all the details again and set up next appointments.
During that time, Dr. Madan is on to see another patient. With three exam lanes in the office, this works for the flow of the clinic and allows her to include consults, treatments and primary care in the same day. It’s a goal to aspire to if you are just starting out. “It takes time to reach this level, but you can build up to that.” She says that when they reopened their doors in May 2020 after COVID-19 closures, the growth was exponential.
Dr. Kataria and Dr. Madan both recommend considering the staff member’s personality when identifying a candidate for a lead dry eye technician. It’s ideal if they are eager to learn and understand that treating dry eye has a tremendous emotional aspect to it, as well. “Read your staff; they can become overwhelmed. We need to safeguard our own mental health and have those boundaries in our workspace,” Dr. Kataria says.
Look for more of the series to be released each week!