MAR 2014

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

Issue link: https://digital.eyeworld.org/i/276058

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Page 124 of 210

E W FEATURE 122 by Michelle Dalton EyeWorld Contributing Writer Marketing femtosecond for cataract technology Most surgeons take a conservative approach to advertising the laser T oday's tech-savvy patients may not be swayed by the mere notion of a practice's latest device—even when that device is beginning to show better patient outcomes. "Technology just doesn't sell anymore," said Michael Gordon, MD, in private practice, Gordon Weiss Schanzlin Vision Institute, San Diego. When his practice integrated the femtosecond laser for refractive cataract surgery, Dr. Gordon opted out of traditional advertising, concentrating instead on educating referring ODs. " We emphasize to our patients that we offer a laser-assisted cataract surgery, and they immediately grasp the concept," he said. In South Dakota, Vance Thompson, MD, director of refractive surgery, Vance Thompson Vision, Sioux Falls, developed the moniker Refractive Laser-Assisted C ataract Surgery (ReLACS) to de- scribe the process because "laser resonates with patients anyway. But clinicians need to be careful with that—patients believe the laser is so much better that you can almost ir- responsibly market the technology." Dr. Thompson's group developed press releases and underwent inter- n al training to be ready to answer both patients' and the media's questions about the femto laser. Ultimately, "it's the consumer who delegates what new technology stays around," said Pit Gills, MD, president of St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute, Tarpon Springs, Fla. Not everyone is as quick to praise the latest technologic advances. John Doane, MD, in private practice, Discover Vision Centers, Kansas City, Mo., does not have a laser in his practice. "We have no unbiased data at this point to definitively show there is any visual benefit above the status quo," he said. "We know of no model that allows for the provider and the center to profit purely from the femto laser, and I personally do not know any center that has not seen its premium IOL margin cannibalized by the choice to offer the femto." Dr. Doane's words may be harsh, but "if the laser provided a better visual outcome," he'd likely have been using the technology for years. He believes that as Carl Sagan stated, "Extraordinary claims should be backed by extraordinary evi- dence." Dr. Thompson also leans a bit more conservatively in his market- ing approach. "We have not pro- moted the laser as providing better visual outcomes," he said. "We do feel comfortable telling patients that it is more precise in incision creation and capsulorhexis 'roundness,' size, and centration. I still have a huge respect for the manual techniques, and I do both." Dr. Thompson cautioned sur- geons to err on the side of conserva- tive when discussing the potential for improved visual outcomes. "More time is needed before I'd be comfortable making that claim," he said. "Right now, 60% of my patients choose traditional cataract surgery and 40% choose ReLACS, but they appreciate knowing their options and being included in the decision." February 2011 Femtosecond phaco techniques March 2014 T he topic of this month's Monthly Pulse survey was "Femtosecond phaco." For those who have not adopted femtosecond lasers for cataract surgery, the majority said the reason was "concern over cost of acquiring the technology," with "lack of data showing a benefit" coming in second. For those who have adopted femtosecond lasers for cataract surgery, the majority believes the main advantage is "the ability to offer the latest technology to my patients." The response "to differentiate myself in my local marketplace" was the second most popular answer, and "accuracy with astigmatism arcuate outcomes compared to LRI outcomes" was Monthly Pulse Keeping a Pulse on Ophthalmology a close third. For those who have adopted femtosecond lasers for cataract surgery, the best marketing, according to 50% of respondents, has been "word of mouth from patients." The second most popular answer was "external marketing (TV, radio, print media)." Finally, when asked what they would do if a patient presented with cataracts and was interested in learning about and having surgery and astigmatism treated with a femtosecond laser, more than half of respondents would "discuss risks and benefits and promote the technology and techniques you offer to treat the patient's conditions." AT A GLANCE • Integrate the femto laser as part of an overall strategy to manage p atients' vision needs. • Educate the eyecare community through seminars—especially your referring physicians. • Internally market the technology to previous refractive patients who are already comfortable with laser surgery. • Be careful not to undermine the premium IOL business in favor of the laser. Dr. Kontos adjusting treatment parameters for a femto cataract patient Source: Mark Kontos, MD 108-125 Feature_EW March 2014-DL2_Layout 1 3/6/14 3:59 PM Page 122

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