WASHINGTON, D.C.—In an effort to help ECPs identify and prepare for new opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Contact Lens Institute (CLI) presented findings from its new research looking at how patients’ views of health care and vision care have changed over the past 18 months, and how ECPs can act upon this new patient mindset. The presentation, recommendations and some details on CLI’s upcoming awareness campaign, “See Tomorrow,” were conveyed via last Thursday’s free online event hosted by the contact lens organization.

“It's been a challenging 18 months for all of us, as well as our patients,” said Alcon’s Rick Weisbarth, OD, FAAO, who leads CLI’s communications committee and was the co-host of the online event. “So tonight, we're going to discuss how your patient psyches have changed, and talk about ways that your practice can change to meet these unmet patient needs,” he said. Dr. Weisbarth noted that the research shows post-pandemic patients want to have more discussions with their health care providers. (Colette Carlson, founder of Speak Your Truth Inc. and a human behavior expert, was the co-host with Weisbarth during last week's online event.)

The online presentation is available to view on-demand on the "See Tomorrow" site here.
Among some of the other findings of CLI’s new research:

  • 73 percent of the adults surveyed want their health care professional to alert them to information that could make their health even better.
  • 70 percent want their health care professional to ask about their lifestyle, to probe and to see what is unique about each and every individual.
  • 30 percent of people say they trust their doctor more than before the pandemic.
  • 89 percent of consumers believe eyesight is important to fulfilling their hopes and dreams.
  • Seven out of 10 adults want their health care professional to tell them about products that will improve their quality of life.

Colette Carlson, Founder, Speak Your Truth Inc. (l) and Rick Weisbarth, OD, FAAO
“The person sitting in our chairs for an exam is not the same as the individual sitting there 18 months ago,” Weisbarth said, noting that about one-half of U.S. residents say they have seen a change in their health as a result of the pandemic. “Peoples’ lives have changed and they want to talk about it.”
Weisbarth added, “So all of this boils down to the need to better connect and better communicate with our patients about good eye health, about good vision, and about the different options that are available.”
The research findings are also being used to develop a consumer marketing campaign that will launch in mid-August and run for approximately six weeks. The effort includes a national sweepstakes with more than $20,000 in prizes, digital advertising, and a consumer media tour with the behavioral expert Carlson as a high-profile spokeswoman.  
CLI will provide practices with social media content in advance to help them spread the word about eyecare’s role in helping people live richer, fulfilling lives as the country continues to emerge from the pandemic.
In addition, CLI last week named a group of 40 leading optometrists from across the U.S. as “See Tomorrow Visionaries,” and they will serve as ambassadors for the new program, as VMAIL reported.

Colette Carlson, Founder, Speak Your Truth Inc.

Carlson said she one of her roles in the campaign will be to act as a spokesperson to drive broader awareness of the importance of vision care. “Our real goal is to encourage individuals to have [good] vision care and to recognize that their eyecare practitioner can offer a wealth of information,” she told VMAIL in a subsequent interview. If the patient is well-prepared for the visit to their optometrist, the time in the office can be more productive for both the patient and the doctor.
“[We want] to be certain that when the patient walks out of the office that they not only have an incredible knowledge of their eyes and vision, but also the best information on the glasses, contact lenses and whatever it is they need to match their lifestyle,” Carlson said.
She also noted during the online presentation that her own research has shown that most people have been changed by the pandemic and that this has led to both new benefits and challenges. “But the one thing that I believe has not changed is that your success moving forward as an eyecare practitioner is truly in direct proportion to your ability to connect. …. People still want to work with and buy from people they know, like and trust, is what immediately comes to mind. So what that means is that your people skills are no longer a nice thing to have. They truly have become your greatest competitive advantage in today’s world.”
She added, “If you can't connect, people aren't going to believe that you really have their best interest at heart. Because that's what connection is. It's personal. It's emotional and with that said it is getting harder and harder to connect. There are so many more distractions competing for people's attention.”