Myopia Management does not just happen in the exam room. An office’s success in implementing this (and most other) specialties is very much dependent on a team approach. But how do we train all the different team members in our office to make sure everyone is on the same page? Enter Ann Tran, a professional trainer and development consultant for the Essilor Academy Canada team. In this episode, Ann discusses how Essilor is supporting optometrists to adopt myopia management and train the whole team for success. You will leave this conversation with great, actionable info to help you elevate your myopia practice right away!
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Training Your Team For SUCCESS In Myopia Management With Ann Tran
I’m excited. I have a special guest here to talk to us about myopia management, but a different aspect of myopia management that maybe we don’t think about enough. That is the training of our staff and the different people within our practices. I have Ann Tran here with me, who is the External Training and Development Manager at EssilorLuxottica. She’s an optician by trade. She has many years of experience in the industry, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at her.
She also brings some interesting insights as she’s previously worked as a dental hygienist and used the insights from that setting as part of that dental team and the training that goes on there and how that can be applied to training in the optical setting here in myopia management. She is now in the field and has trained practices across Canada and helped them implement myopia management successfully into their practices. She’s going to talk to us about training the team and how we can get everybody on the same page and elevate myopia management in our practices.
Before we dive in, I want to say a big thank you to EssilorLuxottica for supporting this three-part series that we’re doing on myopia management. This is part two, so if you haven’t read part one, once you’re done reading this one, go back and read part one, which was with Dr. Shalu Pal and Dr. Millicent Knight. It was an amazing episode of two leaders in the industry. Ann, thank you so much for joining me on this. I appreciate having you here.
Thank you so much for having me. This is such an exciting opportunity. This topic of myopia resonates with me. I’m a high myopia myself. I started wearing glasses at a young age. This is something from my own personal experience, and being in this unique role, it is exciting to bring my own experience but also be able to support and understand some of the challenges that our partners or colleagues are experiencing in the field every single day. This is a new category. It’s a growing category. This is an important, crucial step where it’s a holistic approach. How do we work together, and how do we support the team? That’s what’s exciting about my role in what I get to do every day.
There are a few points you made there. First of all, the fact that you are a high myope means that you can resonate and relate to the patient journey as well as what you’re seeing on the professional side, but also get everybody in the whole team excited about it. That’s something that, as an optometrist myself, I miss that sometimes. I talk about that, but I get caught up in the conversation I’m having in the exam room. I walk out and hand over the prescription to my staff. I say, “I need them to go into this lens. They’re myopic. Here’s how often we need to see them back.”
We’ve done the training, but I forget that we have to make sure that our staff and team members are up to speed. They feel comfortable talking about myopia management the way I might in the exam room. This is an important conversation, not only for business owners but even associate doctors who might be reading. You could take this information and take it back to the practice that you’re at and share this with the owner or the staff and help them guide them to be on the same page. I’m excited to dive in. Why don’t we start with this? In your own words, could you describe what training teams for myopia management look like?
I always like to start with the whole basic concept. We’ve talked about this previously. We talk about a journey in the practice. Every practice is different. There’s the patient-centric journey. One of the biggest things we always have to explore is understanding what the lifetime value of a patient is. When you have a new patient, and a lot of times, it’s children that are coming in for their first eye exam, this is something that, if we tie it back to the first episode, we had with Dr. Shalu Pal. She starts talking about that conversation as a journey, and it starts with the parents.
As the children learn and understand how sight is important to everything they do and learn, it’s now taking a step back where I always say it’s twofold that we have to look at, not just patient-centric, but also consumer-centric because the parents, at some point, are trying to make a decision. That is where it sometimes goes from that medical approach to that transactional. When we talk about that team approach, every single touch point of that journey is important.
Every person in an office can influence or impact what that experience will be and what that value is for that particular individual. This is where I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity not only to support my internal team with how we build this training, how we take all the research and development our global team has worked on with myopia as a category, myopia as a solution, and the solutions we offer. How do we bring it all together in support of that conversation in such a simple way that adds value to our patient or parent and where they’re engaged through that whole process? That’s why it’s a completely holistic approach in the way we take our training and how we execute our training.
The first step is empowering your team. How do you empower your team? It is taking that conversation, and I’ve been doing this for a number of years. With myopia, we’ve simplified it so much that we say, “It’s nearsightedness. It’s for you to see right in the distance.” It is a condition. You don’t want to scare them where it’s a disease, but it’s a condition we can manage and control.
Being a parent myself and looking at all the kids these days, my kids are all Gen Alpha. They’re twelve and under this 2023. My oldest turned thirteen, but they’re going to be our largest living generation. They’re our future. We need to understand those stats. This is where I think it has to start to empower our teams. There are different skillsets and age groups working within our teams, whether they’re administrative assistants, optometric assistants, dispensing teams, or opticians. We all have different conversations, and we resonate those messages differently.
We have to start to take that as a holistic. I keep using that word, but every person on that team needs to speak to myopia in such a way where if you have been diagnosed or if our doctor had shared with you that you are now myopic, this is something that we can prevent because there’s a small window where we can prevent it from getting worse. You’re going to have it for the rest of your life, and we want to support you with taking care of you.
This is where I talk about the lifetime value of that patient. It’s having that continued engagement where they see the value in the offer and the service and see how that solution is going to support them. This is where we talk about myopia. It’s an epidemic that will affect future generations. It is important when we have to talk about the solutions, teach our teams, and understand the opportunity of starting that conversation first.
Myopia is an epidemic that will affect future generations. We need to discuss the solutions, teach our teams, and understand the opportunity to start that conversation first.
An important aspect is every team member needs to talk about it. One thing that we do as a team training is what we do for them before they even come in. When they come in, it’s now, “Did you hear about when we did our pre-call and a reminder? We mentioned that our team is proactively pre-screening for myopia. Your child is under that age group where we are pre-screening.”
In any aspect, every child that walks through that door is being treated the same way with the same level of care. That’s how it should start before they even come in. What does each team member do when they’re in practice? I support them with understanding. Let’s be proactive. Let’s start that conversation and continue that conversation every single time they come in so they can continue to educate themselves moving forward.
The thing I harp on so much is looking at myopia not as a refractive condition but as an ocular disease. When you start looking at it that way, you start to think about treating it differently and not just correcting it. This is the second thing I wanted to touch on. You mentioned not controlling it but managing it. Those are three different things where the management is looking. The third thing is the word you used, holistic. It’s taking that holistic look at the patient’s life, not just right now, the fact they’re minus one, but their entire life. What is that going to look like? Having that holistic approach is valuable. All of that is key and important.
Something that maybe I certainly don’t do enough is understanding the different generations like our staff and team members. Some of them are Millennials and Gen Z, not yet Alphas, but soon enough, we’ll have some Alphas working for us and understanding that they have different approaches. Let them find their own voice and how they want to talk about myopia and get them comfortable in that way.
It is all important when we’re thinking about all the different people in our team and how they might approach this topic. You talked a lot about being proactive there. That’s important now instead of becoming reactive and responding to the fact that a child is already myopic. What’s EssilorLuxottica doing now to be more proactive and take a stand against myopia?
This is where it’s important and something I’m proud to be working for EssilorLuxottica. We feel it’s our responsibility as a global leader to lead the fight against myopia. A large part of putting that responsibility into action is our dedication that we’ve continually tried to partner with associations and organizations, not only on a global level but also on a local level.
It is because of this that we continue to be proactive, bringing that visibility of research innovation. As this is a growing category, what a lot of our colleagues are looking for is they want the right information and guidance. Who do we need to partner with to not only speak business to business or between partners but are we speaking towards the consumer? What are we leveraging to bring that visibility for the layman’s individual or the public to understand that the solutions are available for something that is becoming extremely common and at risk for our future populations? There are some examples I can share from partnering with our national to local groups.
We do support some local efforts. We sponsored the myopia meeting. It’s also repeating this coming December 2023. This is where we bring in-depth knowledge of myopia management to our eyecare professionals throughout North America. I’m also excited to share that we’ve met with the Canadian Association of Optometrists. They have now joined the GMAC, which is exciting. We had the whole event with the BC Doctors of Optometry and focused on the growth of the practice.
This is something that we continue to strive towards. Being an optician myself, I’ve had the privilege of bringing the myopia management conversation to a lot of our dispensers within Ontario. What we’re trying to do is work with all the different associations to understand, as this continues to grow, the logistics of how we implement it and how it becomes my reality in my practice.
We have to recognize that, across Canada, there are many different types of demographics. The conversation, depending on the demographics, has to change. The child is our focus, but the parents are coming in with questions. They do not even know what questions to ask. We need to now be that voice. Something we strive to continue to do at EssilorLuxottica is to be that voice, lead the charge, and grow this category overall.
The GMAC is the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition. That’s an organization that consists of multiple organizations to help bring awareness to myopia right across the world. It’s pretty amazing that the CAO joined that fight to bring that message across Canada. Globally, we could raise awareness. There’s this epidemic. We know by the year 2050, half the world’s population is going to be nearsighted or myopic. There are a lot of conversations we need to have on that scale.
If we narrow it down and you mention BCDO, what are some of the other efforts that are happening more grassroots and locally? What are some of the challenges you’re facing? Globally, let’s put messaging out, but locally, when you’re seeing people face to face and you got boots on the ground, it’s a little bit different. What things are you facing there?
The number one thing is education. It’s as simple as that. Our knowledge is power. That’s always the message that we try to share. That goes back to how we support training from the team perspective. To elaborate maybe on how our approaches are every journey point that we have and to understand this more deeply is to take each step with where that conversation starts and how we educate that particular individual in that conversation.
We’re only as powerful as our knowledge.
If I were to map out what a patient journey for myopia in the office would look like, is every reviewing pre-screening your admin team confirming whether they’re setting off an email or if they’re getting that phone call inquiry? You need to have a clear message of what myopia management means in your practice. You need to be able to start with as simple as training the staff. What does that mean to you, and how do you convey that passion that the team is embodying in simple 1 to 2 sentences that are truthful to what you guys are going to be able to deliver when they bring them into your practice?
This is where you start with that individual. This is where we support team communication because each individual in the office needs to be able to speak to it. When the patient comes out of the exam room, a lot of times, there’s a lot of information that may be shared, and they need to now have the team to support that conversation and add value or clarification to what the doctor’s recommendation is.
That starts from the beginning. When you get into the pre-testing area of an office, we have great tools that we’ve been able to leverage and use when it comes to the risk factors we talk about. This is such a key component that I’ve been able to help support a lot of my business partners when we deploy our training. Those risk factor questions should be explored prior to going into the exam room because it’s getting them to understand it’s not the solution. It’s only going to work as well if there’s compliance and an understanding of some lifestyle or behavioral changes.
We have a pretesting questionnaire that we’ve been able to utilize those top five risk factors that we look at, whether it’s ethnicity, both parents are myopic, or if one parent is myopic. We would use those examples and teach our pre-test team. If you’re sharing with the public that you’re pre-screening every child for risk, when you come to the pretest, you need to start their conversation because there are some key questions we need to understand as an example. We need to know what lifestyle habit questions are, and there’s the diagnostic.
I always teach our teams that you can break down into two categories. These are the factors you can control and factors you can’t control. Factors you can’t control are a lot of times where I’ve encouraged my doctors, “We have to lean on your expertise because that’s where you come in and share that value.” With the factors we can control, this is where our team needs to speak to that. How much time do you spend outdoors? If your child is spending more time on digital screens after their regular school hours, how do we manage that? How do we start to have that conversation?
One of the things I always find challenging as a parent is we always try to do our best for our kids. Nothing is worse when you hear like, “I’m not doing well enough because they’re spending more time on screens.” We live in the digital era. I always tell everybody, don’t fault the parents. We can’t stop them from using digital screens. We need to talk to them about how we manage this. It’s not just about digital screens. For a lot of kids, they may have a lot of hobbies that they do that are up close.
They’re still using that vision. This is where we need to help them. What are some lifestyle recommendations? Always give some tips or best tricks that pre-screening is important because you’re getting the parent to think about it. You’re also getting the child, depending on how young they are, whether they’re young or a little bit older, and they understand it is to get them to be part of the conversation. Instead of making them feel bad, you share the concept of, “We want to try to manage your up-close work time out of your school activity. If you love reading, let’s take our regular breaks. How do we manage that altogether?” This sets the stage for the exam room.
We normally have these risk factor charts that you can laminate. It’s like a little checklist where you have that conversation with the parent and patient. They follow them into the exam room. A lot of times, they’re trying to avoid paper, but the idea is this is an engagement tool. When you ask them, “Are you myopic?” Most parents, if they’re wearing content lenses, sometimes they’ll forget to tell you that they’re myopic or had laser eye surgery. They’re like, “No, I’m not,” but they’re still myopic. This is where they start to go, “That puts my child at risk.” Now, you’re having a different conversation.
That has been one of the most crucial steps that’s helped our doctors convey the importance and the urgency depending on their risk level, whether it’s high, moderate, or low. What’s the next step? It’s interesting because this little sheet that we’ve been able to utilize now follows them throughout the whole journey.
Once a doctor has done the exam and you circle it, you’re at high risk. Come out to the dispensing team. The dispensing team starts that next step conversation with, “Here’s the doctor’s diagnosis and the recommendation. Let’s explore this together. What are we going to do before you jump into solution mode?” We have the most innovative, latest generation Stellest, our myopic best solution that we want to talk about. The solution is only as good if they see value in it.
When I always talk about it’s the best solution, but why is it the best for that child? We educate from the product standpoint. With Stellest, how does halt technology work? This is where I was simplifying it. I always ask the parents, “Do you know how much in the back of your eye?” Let’s ask technical, “Did you know what your retina is?” A lot of times, they’re like, “These are big words.” I’m like, “Two-thirds of the back of your eye is your retina. That’s responsible for not just your sharpest vision, but it’s all the visual stimulus and all the signals that they need to get.”
When we talk about how we control this, Stellest is a lens that follows the shape of the eye. This is where it’s important. Your sensory is going to always get that response. That’s one of those important aspects where you put it where they can visually see it. That helps with the dispensing and recommendation.
Identifying their risk level is important, where they now use set that engagement. This is the value of the care. You’re coming back in several months. How often do we need to see you? Now, there’s an engagement where you give them a to-do list if that’s a good way of doing it. Every person on that team is speaking to a component that will resonate with the parent.
Make sure the child understands that you have a role to play in this. You need to wear these glasses. There are some lifestyle things that you do. You love playing the piano. These are things where you need to manage your time and space it out so your eye gets the break. It’s a comprehensive training approach when we talk about myopia management and not so heavily on like, “Here’s a solution.” It’s a complete holistic approach.
That’s an amazing way to spread that out over the entire process and journey, as we talked about, preemptively mentioning it before the patient calls you through social media. They’ve heard it maybe or something like that. When they call, you’ve mentioned it. When they’re going through pretesting, they’ve heard about it again. To save paper, our intake forms are now laminated. I like that idea a lot. Is that something that you provide as a resource for two offices? There’s a pre-made laminated form that you can provide.
We do have our one-pagers prepared to go. A lot of times, it depends on the practice. Some of them would prefer it to be fully laminated. Some people put it on a page cover. It depends on their practice. One of the things we do as a training team is understand what your floor layout is, your pathway, and how we support you with that aspect.
The tools that we have are conducive to being easy to use because if it’s difficult. If I put the team and many of the teams I’ve worked with or even been in the dispenser myself, if it’s hard to use, you won’t use it. It’s also sharing the right facts. Even simple things such as the efficacy of Stellest, you’ll have some parents, if they’ve never worn glasses, they want to know. They were like, “If you’re making a recommendation for this product, how do I know? How does it work? What’s the efficacy?”
This is where we have patient consumer brochures that highlight the 67% efficacy of the lens. We also have your passport. One of the tools we do have is called the Stellest Passport. It maps up the complete journey when they should come back. What is the parent’s and the child’s responsibility? It’s like a quick checklist. It gets them to be part of the solution. This is where we have to look at myopia as a complete condition. It’s a management. It’s something we need to take care of and continue to move forward. I always stress it as a small window that you can take care of this. You can make a big impact, which is at their younger ages when they’re developing.
I always draw parallels or examples to orthodontics since I’m in the dental world. In orthodontics, you can do it at any age. The biggest impact with myopia management is you have the biggest impact in the early development years. Once the eyeball has grown to a length, we need more concern. There are more disease-related or risk factors. That’s when we can say, “We could have done something about it.” This is why we need to be proactive, speak to that conversation, be the first and the expert, and speak to it. Every single person on the team needs to be part of that conversation.
I love the passport thing. I don’t know how it is in other provinces. We have a young baby here. I’m going through this, but you get a little booklet for immunizations. We take that, go to get her immunizations, and write it down. This is digitally recorded somewhere. We’re still in the habit of taking this passport.
When you give a parent that, it clicks. It’s easy for them to understand. There are lots of nice graphics and information in that passport. I have parents who bring that in regularly, and they’ll ask me, “If I forget sometimes, can you please fill out my passport for me?” They want to make sure that everything’s up to date in that little booklet. It’s helpful.
I do other things in the office where I have little tear-off pads where I write for dry eye. I make a lot of analogies to dry eye with myopia management, like implementing a new specialty in your practice. There are certain steps that are parallel. One of them is I don’t have a passport, but I have a little checklist that I do check off. I’ll scribble some things on there and hand it to the patient. I’ll say, “This is your homework. This is your little reference of what you need to do when you go home. Stick it on your fridge.” Having this little passport for myopia management for the Stellest is valuable for parents.
Going back to the overall training, the optometrist or an optician, if you own an optical and you’re selling Stellest. You can’t do everything yourself if you’re the owner or the lead. You need to be able to delegate. The same goes again in the dry eye in making that analogy. I might make a dry eye recommendation, but I can’t go do the treatment and the education because I won’t have time to see patients. Otherwise, I’ll be doing that all day. It’s important that we learn to delegate and educate our staff. They can take those roles on confidently, save us a lot of time, and make the whole process a lot more efficient. It’s valuable.
Time is something that, as I get older, we are always challenged with. For a lot of our business partners, practice owners, or even our staff and team, time is always something that we struggle with on a day-to-day basis. There’s always something that’s happening, whether the phone is ringing or it’s the Friday before a long weekend, everybody’s brushing in to get their jobs or pick up their glasses. This is when we say, from a support perspective, we do provide onsite training and support in creating that myopia management and practice. Our training team also works closely with the Leonardo platform. That’s our global learning platform.
This is where we try to build a process where even if you were to learn something, it takes time to integrate. It takes time to be comfortable and confident in speaking about it. We do a combination of onsite and there’s layered learning where you now can have an opportunity to leverage or use our Leonardo virtual training and build that confidence depending on the different skillsets within your team.
The great thing about Leonardo, if no one has been on it, I’m hoping most of you guys have explored this already, a simple way of putting it. Sometimes I’m like, “It’s like Netflix.” It’ll customize to your what topics you’re looking for. Whether it’s a video or a two-minute read, there are great learnings. We have Dr. Kate Gifford, who’s a leader, speaker, and podcaster. She’s a business partner that helps focus on communication with parents.
Sometimes, that’s the challenge that we have. She’s got a great one called The Six Cs of Communication. This is something where you have to take time to sometimes listen to that information, digest it, put it in your own words, and make it applicable to your practice. This is an ongoing process where we’re going to learn best practices.
Until you start to explore that from not an onsite but a virtual, you get the best of both worlds, where you can learn from that research and development as we, being one of our global leaders, are diving into some of the hot-off-the-press information and make it applicable to the needs of every single person walking through that practice.
We also have regional workshop-based events. This is for our experts and EL 360 partners. It’s tailored to bringing them up to the minutes of some of your day-to-day challenging situations that might have come up. We try to build these events around the needs of our business partners and say, “This is something that we continue to evolve and ensure that we’re supporting you the best way.” We are giving the overall experience where it’s about improving lives by improving sight. This is something that’s key. We strive to continue to support from an educational perspective and different venues of being able to get that education exposure.
That’s multiple different platforms, resources, and venues that you said, whether it’s in person at these regional events or online through Netflix of online eyecare education or podcasts. Everybody learns differently. Having different ways for people to engage and learn is important. The most common pushback different people will give is, “I don’t have time.” If you like podcasts, you can listen while you drive or work out. If you want to sit and watch something, the Leonardo platform might be it. Finding the platform that works well for you, you’ll find the time and value in it. That’s important.
One of the last things we want to go back to with all of this is the reason why all this education is important is because this category is new. For some of us, it might feel like, “We’ve been talking about myopia management for years.” In general, the advent of some of these technologies is new, like the Stellest lens. It was released a couple of years ago, and some of the other technologies are out there.
Education might not be new for us as practitioners, but it’s new for the public. It’s important for us to continue to share that message with the public and give them as many touchpoints as possible so that they are aware of these treatment and management options available. It’s important for us to keep learning ourselves so we can keep sharing that message.
Some keywords that I would say as maybe some final takeaways are not only do we need to empower our teams, parents, and patients and understand the value of the care and how important it is that myopia is something that, if you’ve been diagnosed with myopia, you will have for the rest of your life. How is it going to impact you? Having that conversation overall and continuing that work. We’re empowered if we take those first steps to start those conversations. We will make that difference and change in the future, or even not in the future, but now. It is to act now.
My final thought, and I love saying this to every parent and any of my teams that ‘ve had the privilege to train, even my internal team and trainers in the field, is our goal is to help our children grow at a healthy rate. We want them to be healthy. That’s the simplest message we can have. We want our kids to be as healthy as they can be. What we can control is how healthy they can grow and grow at the rate that they’re supposed to. That’s what myopia control as a whole and myopia management is. They’re going to grow. We want them to grow. We don’t want them to stop. We want them to grow, but we want to help them grow in the best way they can and get the best experience overall.
That’s something nobody can argue with. No parent is ever going to deny that they want their child to grow and be healthy. We are here to support them in that journey. Thank you so much. For all the information, the education, and all the support that you’re providing to ECPs across Canada, I appreciate it. Thanks for sharing your insight here on the show. Are there any other final words you want to share before we wrap up?
It’s important to be proactive. Myopia management is a whole new category. Embrace it. I know it’s always scary when we need to learn something new but we all can make a difference. It’s one step at a time.
Be excited. Be proactive. Myopia management is a whole new category, so embrace it. It’s always scary when we need to learn something new, but we all can make a difference one step at a time.
Thank you so much and thank you to EssilorLuxottica again for supporting this series of episodes. Don’t forget, this is the second of three. I’d love for you to go back and check out if you haven’t already read the episode with Dr. Shalu Pal and Dr. Millicent Knight. Make sure you look out for the third episode that’s going to be coming out soon. Thank you, everybody, who’s reading. I will see you guys in the next episode.
- Part One – Past Episode
- Canadian Association of Optometrists
- BC Doctors of Optometry
About Ann Tran
Ann Tran is a professional trainer and development consultant for the Essilor Academy Canada team. Her current role is the Interim Manager for External Commercial Sales & Support, with the focus on Training and Development. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology at Brock University, before pursuing a career in the optical field. With 20 years of health care and client care experience gained from working as a territory manager, professional speaker/educator, Licensed Optician, and Dental Hygienist; she offers a unique consultative approach in client management, education, and technical training. She’s passionate about sharing information helping eye care professionals and business partners in achieving clinical success and improving business practices.