Disarming the Problem Patient
As hard as I tried, I could not find a title for this short article that did not sound like nails on the chalk board to every optician and optometrist. Most of us would rather wash the dishes in the breakroom than try to figure out why a patient is not adapting to their glasses. But I may have recently found a key to alleviating some of the pain.
I have found that before anything can be accurately diagnosed, they must believe that you believe them. If they do not believe that you believe them, all of their answers will be skewed by a fear that you will not really help them. People are so accustomed to being brushed off and told no, that they have already prepped themselves for this experience before arriving at your office.
I noticed recently while I was trying to diagnose a difficult eyeglass issue, the patient was still trying to sell me on their issue instead of giving me accurate responses. Because they feared I would not truly repair the issue, they responded in a way that seemed as if none of my diagnostics were working. No matter how many trial lenses I placed in front of them, they acted if all were worse. I then showed them a lens that was the exact same prescription as the pair that they claimed that they could see well in, and the acted if they could not see.
I then realized that it was not my patient who had a problem, it was me. I had not given them the feeling that I was going to fix the problem. They were still skeptical of me. I immediately stopped the process and had a conversation with them to “sell them” on the fact that I was indeed going to repair the problem regardless of what it required. With this issue solved, I could then get accurate responses to my diagnostic questions.
While we understand the diagnostic process and where it is leading, the patient does not. They operate under the assumption that the end result of the questioning is the optician giving them an unfavorable answer. They assume we are going to tell them to pay for something new or live with glasses that do not work for them. The key is to sell the patient on the idea that you are indeed going to repair the problem without a hassle! Then you can get accurate responses in your diagnostic process, so you don’t have to hide in the break room washing dishes!