MARY E. BONAME, OD, MS, FAAO
Montgomery Eye Care
Skillman, New Jersey
“Good, better, best, never let it rest, til your good is better and your better is best.”
The practice that Mary E. Boname,
OD, MS, FAAO, has created is what she calls “concierge,” meaning a
comparatively small practice that is highly focused on patient care.
This means spending time getting to know each of her patients so Boname
can fully understand their vision needs.
Boname’s attention to her
patients’ needs includes finding out how best to stay in touch with
them. “I am surprised that many patients are saying ‘I would really love
it if you could send me a reminder postcard for my annual exam, in
addition to the e-mail or text,’” Boname said. “Patients report they are
inundated with e-mails, and delete many of them without reading them.
In some cases, e-mail communication from our office may be going to spam
filters. Just a few days after mailing out recall postcards, there was a
noticeable increase in phone calls to schedule annual eye exams.”
In addition to regular
practice-patient communication, the efficient office Boname maintains is
a feature her patients appreciate. “Since March 2007, I have been using
electronic records, and we are nearly all wireless now,” she said. “A
few of the more senior staff members are very resistant to computer use,
and I had to bring in more high school and college students to do tasks
that were overwhelming to my receptionist.”
Boname keeps her staff focused on
what matters most. “At Montgomery Eye Care, our mission statement is “To
provide an exceptional patient care experience for each patient every
time they are here. I emphasize, that we are all members of a team and
‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.’”
“Our employee manual says: 1. Do what is best for the customer experience; 2. When in doubt, revisit #1.”
“Patients are not ‘patients’ any longer, they are consumers and
savvy consumers at that,” declared Kevin Gee, OD. To create a positive
customer experience at Gee Eye Care, his six-year-old practice located
30 miles from downtown Houston, Texas, Gee he looks to the hospitality
industry for ideas.
“Hotels and restaurants are a great source to learn and bring back
ideas, but one must implement,” he said. “For example, the Ritz Carlton
has a saying, ‘a warm welcome and a fond farewell.’ When you enter our
doors, you receive a ‘welcome’ not a ‘hello’ or ‘hi,’ and from the very
beginning we have always escorted the patient out the door by opening
the door for them as they depart.”
Gee makes sure his entire staff is involved in the effort. As a
lesson in customer service, he once held an office meeting at a local
Nordstrom department store. Employees shopped for shoes, then compared
notes with a Nordstrom personal shopper who helped them understand how
he keeps loyal customers.
Gee adds his personal touch to customer service, often hand
delivering glasses or a contact lens order to someone’s office or home
himself. He sees patients four nights a week, until as late as 9:30 p.m.
“Our patients love that,” he said. “They don’t have to miss work or
worry about the kids missing school. We receive countless ‘thanks’ for
staying open for them.”
A nationally recognized speaker on topics such as anterior segment
disease, business marketing, patient experience, Gee has a special
interest in luxury eyewear. He has been recognized by designer Tom
Davies for his custom eyewear designs, including a striking pair that is
half round, half square.
Gee said he and his team subscribe to a simple saying which is in
their employee manual: 1. Do what is best for the customer experience,
2. When in doubt, revisit #1.
“What is best for the patient is always what is best for business.”
Pamela Lowe, OD, FAAO, a graduate with honors from the Illinois
College of Optometry, established Professional Eye Care Center, Inc. in
1992. In 2007, the practice had grown to such an extent that it was
relocated to a space nearly three times the size of the original locale.
A Vision Source office for more than a decade, the practice provides
full scope, primary care optometry with an emphasis on prevention and
implementing the latest technologies.
“Our practice has stayed vital for the past 21 years because we
aren’t afraid to be early adopters and invest in the best technologies
that allow us to be very effective primary care optometrists,” said
Lowe. “We like to be the first and often the ‘only’ office in town to
offer differentiating innovations and services.”
“The economic changes of 2008 affected patient perception and bottom
lines across the board in this industry,” she added. “Many of our
patients experienced challenges that affected their spending.
Fortunately, since our practice adopted a medical model when we
computerized in the mid-90s and has always been committed to investing
in technology to better diagnose and treat patients, we have been able
to survive and thrive as the economy comes back.”
Lowe has also led her office through other challenges. “The biggest
management challenge has been paradigm shifts in our industry. Change is
not comfortable for most and it is often difficult to break old habits
and introduce new standards. Educating myself and the staff about new
innovations and translating them into everyday practice is time
consuming, yet it has the reward of giving the patient the best care.
“In an effort to give the best of care to our patients having
regular staff meetings is essential. We have ‘mini’ two to five minute
staff meetings daily to troubleshoot and discuss the day before us. We
also frequently remind ourselves of our mission statement, ‘To provide
the highest quality eyecare available in a comfortable, professional
setting,’” concluded Lowe.
ANDREA P. THAU, OD, FAAO, FCOVD
Dr. Andrea P. Thau and Associates
New York, New York
“We try to establish a relationship with each patient so that we can be
their primary eyecare provider for their entire lifetime.”
Many practitioners script the superior patient experience that they
want their practice to provide with each and every visit. In the case of
Andrea Thau,OD, of Dr. Andrea P. Thau and Associates in New York City,
delivering an exceptional experience is often more of an improvisational
performance, differing with each patient. “We deal with a lot of
special needs patients, and each one is a unique challenge,” she
About 65 percent of Thau’s patients are children, including some
very young in age and many with vision challenges that brought them to
the office by referral from a teacher or occupational therapist—or from
another family where a child was profoundly helped by Thau, who
specializes in providing vision therapy.
“We try to establish a relationship with each patient so that we can
be their primary eyecare provider for their entire lifetime,” said
Thau. That is especially challenging when children present with
paralyzing fears of seeing a doctor or sitting in an examination chair.
Making a child feel safe and engaged are keys to a successful visit at
her practice. “I sometimes say, ‘I’m the Eye Doctor Detective, and I
need good clues to be able to help you to see really, really well.’ Then
together we use our good clues to come up with the ‘right
conclusions,’” she said.
When Thau works with a child to improve their ability to focus or to
better concentrate on school work, she pro-actively (with a parent’s
consent) shares the process, as well as vision-health tips, with
teachers and occupational therapists who may also be working with her
young patients. “We see ourselves as being part of the child’s team.”