When Louisiana Eye & Laser opened in 1999, the practice’s mission was to provide state-of-the art eye care. In 2020, the practice’s goal remains the same!
“We decided that the practice was going to stay up-to-date on all the latest and greatest equipment, procedures, and vision-correcting devices, because we felt that failing to provide patients with all their options would be a great disservice to them,” explains Michael Redmond, MD.
Having grown to 14 locations with eight ophthalmologists, seven optometrists, and more than 100 allied staff members, the practice continues to meet this goal. (See “About Louisiana Eye and Laser,” page 12.) As a prime example of this dedication to state-of-the-art care, Louisiana Eye & Laser is at the forefront of implanting premium intraocular lenses (IOLs). In fact, the practice was selected to be the first in central and north Louisiana to implant the AcrySof IQ PanOptix Trifocal IOL (Alcon)!
“We do not want patients to miss out on a great opportunity for glasses independence,” says Patrick Redmond, MD. “A lot of the patients we see have worn glasses their entire lives, so it can be so life-changing for them when they do not need glasses anymore or as much.”
Here, Louisiana Eye & Laser staff discuss how, specifically, they offer the premium IOL options (i.e. AcrySof IQ Restor Multifocal IOL, AcrySof IQ Toric IOL (Alcon), TECNIS Symfony [J&J Vision], etc.) that are customized to the specific visual needs of the patient.
ABOUT LOUISIANA EYE & LASER
Founded in 1999, Louisiana Eye & Laser has grown to a 14-location ophthalmology practice that offers a wide range of advanced services through three departments:
- The Eye Center offers comprehensive diagnostic testing and various surgical options, including laser-assisted cataract surgery, premium IOL implants, LASIK, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, or MIGS. The center also offers comprehensive dry eye disease care, including diagnostic testing and a variety of treatment options.
- The Optical Center offers a wide variety of designer frames for children, women, and men, as well as a line of safety glasses.
- The Aesthetic Center provides a modern, comfortable environment for the practice’s aesthetic treatments and technologies, such as skin rejuvenation procedures, tattoo removal, fillers, Botox, chemical peels, dermaplaning, and spa facials.
Louisiana Eye & Laser staff members learn of the latest advances in IOLs from the practice’s management team. Headed by CEO Justin Sullivan, the team receives its information on the benefits and risks of the implants, along with related information, directly from company representatives. Mr. Sullivan regularly visits surgical companies and medical experts around the nation to stay up with the latest technology.
Mr. Sullivan has 16 years of experience in ophthalmology, specifically with cataract procedures and premium IOL options. When a new premium IOL becomes available, he says the staff meet to talk about the new IOL’s qualities vs. a standard IOL, why the technology it offers is significant, and, most importantly, its value to the cataract patient.
The management team also takes advantage of online staff education (BSM Consulting, https://bit.ly/30IvDDp ). In addition, the team conducts staff meetings, where they discuss how to present new premium IOLs via scripts and how to answer common patient questions, such as, “Am I going to need glasses again, 5 or 10 years down the road?” Incidentally, Melissa Hunter, Louisiana Eye & Laser’s lead surgical coordinator, says the answer is: “The integrity of this IOL is forever, and so the refractive correction it provides is going to be a permanent correction.”
The allied health staff also role play patient scenarios, such as addressing costs, and “show staff how that scenario should be handled,” notes Mr. Sullivan, who has been with the practice almost 2 years.
“It’s so important to have a knowledgeable staff, because they are the ones patients see first,” notes Dr. Patrick Redmond. “They are reflective of us, the doctors. So, if they cannot answer a patient question or provide requested information, patients may think we will be that way too.”
Patients may first learn of premium IOLs through educational videos that play in the reception area and exam rooms.
“We have videos on loop on all the equipment, procedures, and vision-correcting devices we offer, so that the patient becomes educated while waiting to see us,” Dr. Michael Redmond asserts. The benefit: “A patient may say to one of our techs and/or their doctor, ‘I just saw a video about an IOL for astigmatism. What more can you tell me about it?’”
Just as it does for surgical equipment, Louisiana Eye & Laser depends on the latest in technology for diagnostic devices.
For example, the practice utilizes a wavefront visual assessment system (Visionix VX130, Luneau Technology USA). The multi-diagnostic system combines technologies including Scheimpflug tomography, Shack-Hartmann wavefront aberrometry and Placido ring corneal topography into a single device. The practice’s non-mydriatic color fundus camera (Visucam, Zeiss) offers operator-friendly controls, infrared observation, software-guided workflow, and a number of internal fixation set ups, among other features.
Louisiana Eye & Laser techs educate cataract patients about clinical findings, via corneal topography or other devices, that could make them candidates for premium IOLs, says Dr. Michael Redmond.
Mrs. Hunter echoes this statement: “The techs may say, ‘It looks like you are having some issues with your near and distance vision. Did you know that there are now lens implants designed for those issues that could either eliminate or decrease the need for glasses?’” she says. “It’s our job to educate patients about their disease process and about what options they have as far as correcting their vision.”
Mrs. Hunter adds that when a staff member genuinely believes in the value of vision, along with the advances that the premium IOLs offer, it positively impacts those patients who are undecided regarding their IOL options.
Having received education from both the tech and office videos, cataract patients are now primed to hear about and discuss premium IOLs with their ophthalmologists during their examination.
“We [the surgeons] will, typically, provide an overview of the cataract surgery itself and then the recommended IOL before turning the patient over to the surgical coordinators who get more in-depth,” explains Dr. Patrick Redmond.
After the surgeon makes his recommendation, the surgical coordinators focus their conversation on managing patient expectations.
“We go into detail about what that IOL is going to offer and the possibility of spectacle wear post implantation,” Mrs. Hunter says. “I like to start the conversation by asking the patient how they use their eyes daily. I use their answer to explain why their choice of IOL is going to be beneficial.”
An example: “Based on your vision needs, this IOL should allow you to use a computer all day without having to depend on a pair of glasses. In an extreme low-light situation, you may need readers, but we are seeing very little of that with this IOL.”
Mrs. Hunter acknowledges that by first discussing the value of the premium IOL in relation to the patient’s vision needs, concerns about its out-of-pocket cost often become secondary and are eased by a presentation of payment plan options:
“We explain that premium IOLs do require an out-of-pocket expense insurance does not cover, but that multiple third parties, such as CareCredit, offer 18 to 24 months of no-interest financing,” she explains. “We discuss those options and help patients through the application process. Typically, patients will find out about their approval right here in the office!”
An unending goal
For Drs. Michael and Patrick Redmond, the fervor for staying current on the latest advances never ends.
“Our practice is making plans now for 3 to 5 years down the road, based on what we know is coming,” Dr. Michael Redmond says. “And I’ve had conversations with patients in which I’ve told them, ‘that kind of IOL isn’t here yet,’ but when it is, you can bet we will make it available.” OP
TIPS FOR EFFICIENT CATARACT SURGERY
- Meet with new surgeons to learn their preferences and pace. “Determining their go-to instruments, the medications they typically prescribe and rely on for the cataract surgery, and, of course, their average time per cataract surgery increases the likelihood that all will go smoothly,” says Jennifer Marze, surgical coordinator at Louisiana Eye & Laser.
- Acquire pre-surgery data prior to surgical scheduling. Having the pre-surgery cataract management, such as the biometry readings, ahead of the surgical scheduling meeting, prevents the surgical coordinator from having to go back into the patient’s chart and update pertinent information, such as the definitive candidacy for specific IOL, notes Mrs. Hunter.
- Create customized surgery packets for patients. “These packets, ready for when the patient meets with the surgical coordinator, are comprised of all the necessary patient consent forms, the pre-surgical instruction sheet (e.g. circled drops to use, dosing, how to instill drops, directions to the outpatient surgical center, etc.)” notes Ms. Marze. “This way, the surgical coordinator isn’t rambling through drawers and files trying to find what is needed for that individual case.”
- Scrutinize the pre-surgical case notes, when available. Prior to a surgery, carefully read through the presurgical case notes to ensure clarity and, where needed, emphasis, so neither the doctor nor the support staff are missing anything, asserts Ms. Marze.
“For example, if a doctor wants VisionBlue stain (DORC) but it’s not in bold print, the in-office staff in charge of assembling such items or, in our case, the outpatient surgical center, may overlook it,” she explains.
- Inspect the surgical tools. “Assess the cataract instruments for chips and such, the operation of the sterilization devices, and the calibration of the lasers,” explains Ms. Marze.
- Touch base with the surgeons post-surgery. Circle back, and ask the surgeon, “Did you experience any hiccups that you think could be prevented next time? Is there something you think can be done more efficiently?” explains Ms. Marze.
“Many things go into a cohesive surgery, not just scheduling the patients,” she says.