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Successfully integrating the eyelash-growth prescription Latisse into your practice can present unusual challenges for the general ophthalmologist and the oculoplastics specialist, alike. First, although it is simple enough to offer your patients prescriptions for the medication, it may be difficult to build interest — to initiate or to encourage the dialogue. Second, because Latisse is applied by patients themselves, maintaining a substantial patient volume that is using the medication and following up regularly for Latisse refills can be difficult. Indeed, once started on the product, the patient may seek medication refills from nearby providers with whom they seek care. That is, unlike Botox or injectible fillers, the patient does not need to follow up with the ophthalmic practitioner in order to continue the treatments. How, then, may ophthalmologists overcome these challenges? Advertising Latisse For many practitioners, generating interest in Latisse may be accomplished by advertising within the community from which patients are drawn. This may include:
Magazine, periodical, or circular advertisements;
Radio commercials; or
Other carefully targeted messages.
More affordable options include strategic waiting-room ads, brochures and other patient education materials. Letting your patients know that you prescribe Lattise is the most important step in building this element of your practice. Similarly, asking your patients to complete a detailed questionnaire while they wait to be seen may also engender this critical dialogue. These simple documents may simultaneously inform your patients of the services available within your practice and inform you of their aesthetic interests. Of course, a more complete understanding of the cosmetic concerns of your patient population may help not only to increase your Latisse prescriptions, but also to more fully address the diverse needs of your patients. Patients are sometimes reluctant to verbalize their cosmetic concerns, or may simply be unaware that cosmetic services are available, but a written survey may overcome these often overlooked barriers. By using this simple method, you may increase both the satisfaction of your patients and the scale of your cosmetic practice. As with all elective procedures, encouraging enthusiastic office staff to participate in this dialogue may also be helpful. In particular, if any members of your staff are being treated with Latisse and are willing to discuss their experiences using the medication, they may be encouraged to speak with interested patients during their office visits. Taking the Direct Approach Latisse may also be incorporated into your cosmetic practice in more direct ways. Patients who are seen routinely for Botox treatments, injectable fillers, skin care or other recurring therapeutic interventions may be approached proactively and asked about their interest in the medication. This patient population is especially concerned about their appearance and motivated to seek regular treatment. As such, many of these same patients may be particularly amenable to Latisse, as they are already accustomed to the need for regular, maintenance procedures. Therefore, for most, the need to apply Latisse daily may not be burdensome. In addition, an introductory Latisse kit may be provided to your post-operative blepharoplasty patients, as this medication may enhance the restoration of their youthful eyelid appearance following surgery. Once again, many of these patients are appropriately concerned about their periocular appearance and may appreciate the positive cosmetic impact provided by Latisse. Maintaining a Latisse Client Base Once interest in Latisse has been established, the physician faces another challenge: maintaining a patient population that returns regularly for ongoing care and medication refills. In general, this must be accomplished by adding value to the patient experience. To do so, we may leverage the unique attributes of our ophthalmic training and the specialized instruments at our disposal. Although the risks of changes in intraocular pressure or in iris pigmentation appear to be low with the proper application of Latisse, many patients remain appropriately concerned about these potential side effects. As ophthalmologists, we are well-positioned to educate our patients about these risks and to provide meaningful services to allay their fears. For instance, regular monitoring of intraocular pressure prior to the administration of Latisse and throughout the duration of treatment is a service few other specialties can provide, and a feature that may distinguish ophthalmologists from other aesthetic practitioners. This deep commitment to ocular health may strengthen the physician-patient relationship and may help to retain patients well beyond an initial consultation. In addition, digital slit-lamp photography may be employed to document patient appearance at baseline — both iris and eyelid should be included — in order to monitor iris-pigmentation changes during therapy. In addition to helping to put patients at ease, these detailed photographs may also provide a graphic demonstration of the effects of treatment on lash growth. This visual reminder may help to promote patient satisfaction with the medication, as well as with your care. Finally, where possible, in-office dispensing of Latisse may provide a compelling mechanism with which to encourage patients to return regularly to your practice. By incorporating this convenient service into your business model, you may help your patients avoid unnecessary trips to the pharmacy, thereby increasing the utility of their visits with you. Once more, this value-added function may differentiate your practice from those of other, competing providers. In Summary This focus on integrated, high-level, customized service will help to bring patients into your practice for Latisse consultations and bring them back again and again for their Latisse refills, as well as for their other ocular and aesthetic concerns.
About the author: Lauren A. Eckstein, MD, PhD, is a member of the division of Oculofacial and Orbital Surgery at the Scheie Eye Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a member of the YO Info editorial board.
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