If you know anything about running an ophthalmology practice, you know that technology is quick to change. Just more than a decade ago, this American Academy of Ophthalmology article claimed that the introduction of bifocal intraocular lenses (IOL) ushered in the beginning of a new era. Now, with the recent introduction of trifocal IOLs, it’s time for yet another chapter.
In August 2019, Alcon announced the commercial launch of the AcrySof IQ PanOptix trifocal with intraocular lens, the first trifocal IOL for cataract surgery approved by the FDA in the U.S. While the AcrySof IQ PanOptix is the only trifocal IOL in the U.S., the technology had previously been available in more than 70 countries across the globe.
This is a big deal for the U.S. ophthalmology market—most specifically, the cataract surgery vertical. Whereas bifocals corrected distance and near vision, according to some doctors, some patients with bifocal IOLs still required glasses to perform tasks at intermediate distances such as reading on computer screens.
Trifocal IOLs address this gap and provide users with a trifecta of distance, intermediate, and near vision. For patients with cataracts, they may provide the most benefits, depending on needs. These lenses afford a well-rounded lifestyle to patients looking to correct vision at all distances. Plus, the majority of patients never need to wear glasses following the surgery.
Staying competitive in an evolving vision care industry.
These days, customer expectations for cataract surgery are exceedingly high. Patients are able to shop around for the perfect practice to fit their needs—and practices must cater to these demands with effective marketing. But it wasn’t always that way. Part of the reason that expectations are high is because of the influence that LASIK has had on the vision market.
Historically, cataract surgery costs were covered by a third party, like Medicare or private insurance companies, meaning there was little need for differentiation. When LASIK was first introduced, it was performed by an ophthalmologist—much like cataract surgery—but paid for entirely by the patient. Demand for LASIK skyrocketed, and because of its success as a self-pay procedure, expectations for cataract surgery transformed.
In 2005, the FDA introduced CMS ruling 05-01 which changed how practices offered cataract surgery to patients. Like LASIK, surgeons could now offer IOL technology to patients as an elective, self-pay option. By adding an elective factor to one of the country’s most popular surgical procedures, the ruling effectively created the need for surgeons to market their services.
So, what does this mean for your ophthalmology practice?
There’s already a high demand of patients needing cataract surgery. But it’s up to you to separate yourself from the pack. Staying competitive not only means adopting the latest technology. It means reaching patients who would benefit from procedures in the first place.
This is done through targeted vision care services.
AcrySof IQ PanOptix trifocal IOL is currently approved for both cataract and presbyopia patients. If you offer trifocal IOL technology, consider offering specific marketing campaigns to reach a targeted group of cataract surgery leads.
To reiterate, cataract surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world—and the most common type is phacoemulsification cataract surgery with intraocular lens (IOL) implantation. What this suggests is that trifocal IOLs only expand an already large pool of patients who are searching online for cataract surgery.
While you may have already invested money into LASIK marketing campaigns, it’s time to consider targeting patients in the refractive surgery niche. It may be true that overall search volume may be higher for LASIK—but it’s also important to consider quality over quantity.
Targeting prospects further down their journey helps you reach qualified patients who are more likely to visit your practice. Paid search marketing can help you deliver hyper-targeted campaigns and ensure you’re targeting the right people with the right message.
While many patients will search for general terms surrounding vision care and surgery, it can also be assumed that others will search specifically for cataract-specific terms. Paid search means you bid on keywords related to your business. Because potential customers will see your ads only when they’re searching for exact cataract surgery services and products, you’re more likely to reach qualified patients.
It can be tough for cataract surgeons to generate awareness of new technologies and attract new patients to contact their practice—let alone convert that interest into an actual appointment. By controlling the message that your local audiences see, you help increase the chances that real people needing trifocal IOL and other cataract surgery contact your practice.