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Challenges and Opportunities

Experts give their insight at practice management masterclass

Jemima Owen-Jones

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tamara Evans and Rod Solar

As day three of the 2019 ESCRS 37th Congress drew to a close, almost 10,000 surgeons and company representatives ventured out into the warm evening air to join their industry associates and reflect on what was an educational and inspirational day of workshops, exhibitions and networking.

Those who visited room West 8 had the chance to interact with 10 industry experts who each took to the stage to present: ‘Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st-Century Practice’.

First up was Tamara Evans, Vice-President of Marketing at Ceatus Media Group, discussing the subject of next-generation marketing.

She said: “Millennials now outnumber baby boomers. Ninety per cent of millennials routinely research products online and are more likely to apply shopping habits associated with online retail to their health care decision-making.”

David Evans, Chief Executive Officer, Ceatus Media Group, reinforced the importance of cutting-edge marketing, demonstrating the very best practices to increase a website’s online visibility and make it easier for prospective patients to access both surgeon and procedure information.

He said: “You’ve got to be mobile-friendly. Sixty-five per cent of online users search using their phone. If you want to be a good resource, your mobile site needs to be easy to navigate.”

After discussing other digital touchpoints such as website development, social media and reviews, Evans ended his presentation with: “The number one takeaway here is ‘what’s in it for me?’ No one wants a procedure or surgery. They want the lifestyle change – they want to be inspired.”

Paul McGinn, Barrister of law and Editor of EuroTimes, was up next to discuss the topic, ‘GDPR: lessons learned’.

He said: “It’s important to remember why you control information. Ultimately it’s about the other person, of whom you have a confidential relationship with. Part of the reason health has become somewhat of an issue in terms of personal data is often related to information regarding gender, race, sexual orientation – it typically becomes very charged. This is part of a global shift.”

After an engaging Q&A session with digital marketing experts, Rod Solar and Laura Livesey, shortlisted entrants from the ESCRS Practice Management and Development Innovation Award 2019 were invited up to present on the innovation they had designed to enhance patient services.

First up was Alex Shortt’s ‘Online Laser Eye Surgery Self-test’, followed by Francesco Carones’ Patient Experience Campaign, Julien Buratto’s ‘Selling Surgery on Amazon’, and Jamal Hjoj’s ‘Early Detection of Strabismus and Refractive errors’.

Delegates did a live vote and entrant Julien Buratto, Operation Manager at the Neovision Cliniche Oculistiche, Milan, received the highest number, winning his practice a €1,500 bursary to attend the 38th Congress of the ESCRS in Amsterdam in 2020.

After lunch, delegates reconvened to have their most pressing questions answered. The ‘Ask the Experts’ session was led by the panel that included Arthur Cummings, Consultant Eye Surgeon and Medical Director, Wellington Eye Clinic, Dublin; Paul Rosen, Consultant Ophthalmologists, Grange Eye Consultants, UK; Guy Sallet, Eye Surgeon at Ooginstituut Aalst Ophthalmology clinic, Belgium; and Pavel Stodulka, Chief Surgeon and CEO of Gemini Eye Clinics, Austria.

Michael Cherfan

Turning the attention back to the 2018 Innovations Prize, was Michael Cherfan, BESH General Manager and Director. In his presentation, ‘Build it, and they will come’, Cherfan revealed the company’s winning approach and shared advice and tips so that attendees can leverage digital media to improve awareness of their clinics, increase inquiries, attract new patients and ultimately drive revenue.

He said: “We made a strategic decision to start investing more money into our digital presence. As a result, we had more control over our content, it was much cheaper, and we had a significant increase in users.”

Guy Sallet and Pavel Stodulka then returned to the stage to share advice on the patient experience, from the waiting room, through to postoperative care. They explained that the patient experience is not equal to patient satisfaction.

“High expectation, results in a lower degree of satisfaction with the same outcome as low expectation,” Sallet explained.

Arthur Cummings turned attentions to patient flow next, sharing a template diary of what a typical afternoon would look like in his practice:

Two optometrists work with the doctor to prepare the patients – retraction, s/l check, dry eye management, dilation, additional tests.
The last appointment of the afternoon is 3:40 pm even though the doctor would not see patients until 5-5:30 pm. First optometrists finish at 4 pm, and others will be there until 5pm.
As there are new patients and first-time consults, they arrive at 12:40 and 12:50 for the first two afternoon appointments (scheduled close together in case one is late).
Optometrist lunch is 12-1 pm, so 12:40 arrival allows medical history form completion and scans with nurses/ techs before seeing an optometrist at 1 pm and the doctor at 2:15pm.

For the final presentation of the day, Sheraz Daya, Medical Director of Centre for Sight, UK, and Daniel Kook, Consultant, Associate Professor at the Department of Ophthalmology of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany, participated in a mock negotiation.

The main takeaway from the session included:
Aim at getting the best deal for both sides
Do not take things personally
Be soft on people and hard on the problem
Develop your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA)
Negotiate personally

If you couldn’t make the event or were left wanting more, the 38th Congress of the ESCRS will be held from 3-7 October 2020, in the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.