Marketing to the low vision patient

April 15, 2015

Experts weigh in on the best marketing techniques to reach every generation of patients with low vision.

 

Take-home message: Experts weigh in on the best marketing techniques to reach every generation of patients with low vision.

 

By Rose Schneider, Content Specialist, Ophthalmology Times

Patients with low vision can come in many forms-a young child just starting school, a teenager who lives and breathes the Internet, or a senior citizen who prefers reading the newspaper than watching television.

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Each of these patients requires specific needs to fit his or her lifestyle. But how do eye-care professionals ensure these patients receive the proper knowledge and devices to aid their low vision?

“The information is the same, but the approaches (must) come from different places,” said Dan Roberts, MME, editor-in-chief of “Living Well with Low Vision” (http://lowvision.preventblindness.org). The online resource is an educational program launched by Prevent Blindness.

“We challenge children and teens to develop good health habits that will become natural to them,” Roberts said. “We challenge young adults to take care of themselves for the sake of their children and their personal future. And we challenge senior adults to do everything they can to maintain their quality of life as they age.”

Furthermore, because of these differences, it is a necessity to utilize specialized marketing approaches to figure out how, why, and where a low vision aid is needed for each patient, according to Terri Griffin, product manager for School Health, Hanover Park, IL.

“Marketing to all ages is important to help people maintain their independence and abilities to work, study, read, do hobbies, and more,” Griffin said.

Next: Marketing to the individual

 

Needs that vary by age can be age-related vision impairment versus physical- or disease-related impairment, she explained.

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“The focus (then) is more about individual ability and willingness to use or learn a level of technology that will best suit their needs, based on their impairment and the activities they do,” Griffin said.

The changing needs of patients as they age is a highly important factor to address continually throughout their lives.

“Vision impairment can change over time along with tasks, goals, and technology,” she said. “Whether an individual has used low vision aids for years, for a short time, or is considering them (for the first time), the individual should periodically re-evaluate the low vision aids he or she needs or uses.”

Having the ability to connect with patients is key to the conversation that leads to investigating which low vision aids are best for each individual.

Next: Marketing to the generation

 

“After trying virtually every marketing tool available over the past 20 years, the method that works best for me is to remain visible, reachable, and content-rich,” Roberts said.

Compare it with a church: construct a tall steeple so people know you’re there (e.g., large Internet presence), greet newcomers warmly at the front door (e.g., personal and immediate e-mail and phone-based guidance), and make sure they get what they came for (e.g., immediate news reports, plus a large library of audiovisual and printed information produced in layman’s terms and backed by trusted professionals), he explained.

This approach works best for teenage patients and those who recognize they have a need and have already begun looking for help, Roberts said.

“It is much easier today than it was when I began in the ’90s,” Roberts said.

“In the early days of the Internet, we had to depend solely upon the media and professional referrals,” he continued. “Now, the majority of people begin their search on the Web, so we make sure we are visible by not only staying high in the search engine ratings, but by partnering and linking with other highly-recognizable organizations and maintaining a presence at local and national conferences.”

But what about elderly patients-a significant portion of the population-who do not utilize the Internet?

Roberts recommended staying in touch via live support groups and state affiliates, and encouraging eye-care professionals to inform their patients further about low vision aid-an important aspect of continued care from diagnosis through rehabilitation and personal support.

Next: Vitality of unique techniques

 

Using a similar approach to reach young patients with low vision has proven successful over the years, Roberts said.

These techniques include programs in schools and libraries, and educational materials and lesson plans for teachers.

“To target different groups, advertise in publications or websites that appeal to them and tailor the message to their lifestyles or interests,” Griffin advised. “For example, heavy computer users may be more interested in screen magnifier/reader software, while people who are active may be interested in lightweight, portable devices, and people who enjoy reading may want a device that can magnify full pages.

“Use images or models that represent the group you are directing the message,” she continued.

Vitality of unique techniques

Whichever method physicians decide to go about connecting with patients with low vision, Griffin stressed remembering that each person is unique and requires specific needs and solutions.

“(This is) critical to getting the best outcome from aids and technology,” she said.

To do so, Griffin offered several tips to help understand each patient’s individual needs:

  • Investigate the type of vision impairment and degree of loss.

  • Find out how and where the patient will use the product (e.g., work, school, hobbies, near or far magnification, etc.).

  • Ask the patient about his or her ability to handle and operate a device.

  • Discover what goals and budget the patient has in mind.

  • Ask what comfort level is needed with various degrees of technology and possibly the patient’s need to learn how to use the product.

“There are dozens of different low vision aids to help improve the lives of people with low vision,” Griffin said. “Each aid has its own advantages and limitations. To get the most from a low vision aid, it’s important to see and understand what that device can and cannot do (for the patient).”

By considering these factors, patients will not only be paired with the appropriate aid for their low vision, but will continue to be informed through the best channel they understand.

Next: Tailoring tecniques to specific audience needs

 

 

Tailoring tecniques to specific audience needs

Dan Roberts, MME, suggests possible techniques that either may flourish or fail when marketing to patients with low vision:

  • Successful techniques with children: Programs in schools and libraries, educational materials and lesson plans for teachers

  • Unsuccessful techniques with children: Flyer distribution

  • Successful techniques with young adults: Websites, newsletters, kiosks, social media, Internet support groups, telephone help line

  • Unsuccessful techniques with young adults: Information provided to clinics for distribution, broadcast media, e-mail broadcasts

  • Successful techniques with senior adults: Websites, newsletters, telephone help line, telephone support groups, live support groups, presentations to community groups, retirement centers, churches, libraries, Internet support groups (listservs and message boards), direct mail

  • Unsuccessful techniques with senior adults: Information provided to clinics for distribution, broadcast media, e-mail broadcasts