How to Promote SMILE Procedure

Fig. 22.1
An example of the presenting website of one of the authors. According to a “local hero” principle, the surgeon is presented first. Two other points are emphasized at the same time without overloading the front page: Your surgeon is a true specialist in LVC who, of course, offers the advanced procedure “SMILE.” All other detailed information are given when the potential customer clicks on other buttons


Fig. 22.2
This website is dedicated to the SMILE technique, focusing on the future patient expectations. They can watch short videos presenting the laser technology

Key point: A website well matches with the SMILE potential patient’s profile.



Social networks (e.g., Facebook, Xing, Google+, etc.)

Ask patients for interactivities and positive comments in social network platforms and “refractive” chatrooms. Encourage them to share their positive experiences with others and to recommend the positive atmosphere in your clinic prior, during, and after SMILE surgery. Positive and emotional comments are repressing fears and scares.



Traditional print media, radio, and TV

You can set up editorials or advertorials in daily newspapers or lifestyle magazines (including aviation, railway magazines, etc.) and smart and “sexy” spots on TV and radio. But be aware that all these activities are very expensive, have a lot of dead loss, and are also giving indirect benefit to your competitors. Last but not least, please note that the “young laser generation” which we want to catch is more focused on the Internet than on traditional media



Create, manage, and develop a network of SMILE experts

This network is composed by all the health professionals who are likely to refer patients for refractive surgery. Of course, other ophthalmologists who do not practice refractive surgery are part of it, but also the opticians and optometrists in the neighborhood and the general practitioners. As they are health-care professionals, they represent a good way to spread information. Patients feel in a trustworthy relationship, because they have no financial interest to refer them. Unlike the surgeons, they benefit from an image of proximity. Their opinions and advices are more often sought for and listened to. By referring a patient, they are at the beginning of the surgery process and the patient feels well surrounded. Depending on the relationship which already exists, a member of the staff clinic can visit these health professionals to introduce them to the SMILE surgery. The message needs to be complete, accurate, and easy to understand. The information delivered must be different from the one intended to the mainstream public. It seems to be more relevant to insist on technical details, postoperative results, patient’s comfort after surgery, and possible undesirable effects and their management. In a second phase, the referrals have to be integrated to the refractive care pathway of their patients. The clinic must consider them as partners to maintain good relationship. The postoperative report can be sent, and in the particular case of other ophthalmologist, he can be in charge of the postoperative follow-up. To maintain the connection, a newsletter treating of SMILE press review can be sent every month by e-mail or letter. Occasionally, the refractive center can organize a meeting on that issue.

Key point: Referral network consists in an effective information relay. At the beginning of this eye care pathway, they have to be considered as partners.



Phone calls

In most countries, the telemarketing is perceived as unethical or it is simply illegal. But thanks to the other ways of communication, potential ReLEx SMILE patients can call for further information. People who answer the phone must be well informed about the refractive surgery SMILE technique. They have to be able to answer most questions. Otherwise, interested people could get the impression that the SMILE technique is far from tight. Remember that new technologies, especially in the medical field, are frightening to most of the patients. After refractive surgery, they just want to have perfect vision without glasses but they don’t want to be part of a clinical trial.

Key point: Phone calls consist in direct advertising with telemarketing but also indirect as an additional support to other ways of communication.



Price policy

Prices are difficult to transfer with respect to ethical consideration and legislation. As it is common in the refractive surgery market, the demand is relatively highly correlated with price: as price comes down, demand goes up. The SMILE must be associated with the state-of-the-art refractive surgery concept. It is not a low-cost surgery. Concerning the price positioning among the other refractive surgery techniques, it has to be at the top of the pyramid. Remember that the price includes the surgeon fees which represent the surgeon’s skills and the surgical tools and equipment used. PRK or LASIK cost must be cheaper than SMILE procedures.

Key point: As SMILE is the most sophisticated refractive surgery technique, it must be the most expensive one.



Vouchers and incentives

If patients are recommending your clinic straight ahead to friends and family or others and if those recommendations are directly resulting in a refractive procedure (esp. SMILE), you can give – as a kind of appreciation – a “financial voucher” to the recommending person and/or a small discount to ongoing patients. Nevertheless, this way of marketing is not always easy to handle and requires sensitivity and tact.



The word from mouth to ear

This is one of the last but most important ways to attract potential patients for the SMILE surgery. Patients talk about SMILE with their social environment. When they are satisfied with the refractive and visual outcome, this will have extraordinary positive consequences on your activity. The practice of SMILE surgery on famous and well-known people or persons of influence is less costly but really effective. During postoperative care surgeons can ask them to share their experience with others and – why not – realize short video clips or publish their testimonies online. These people are considered as those who are always going one step ahead. If they have chosen SMILE technique, it must be the best one for refractive correction, on the cutting edge of technology.

Key point: The word from mouth to ear has to be encouraged among patients who already have undergone SMILE.


22.2 Tools to Convert the Refractive Candidates into SMILE Refractive Patients

Converting all LASIK patients to SMILE

Up-to-date patients prefer premium services and more advanced surgical techniques which offer superior outcomes.

Believe in the technology to make it work for you.

May 26, 2017 | Posted by in OPHTHALMOLOGY | Comments Off on How to Promote SMILE Procedure

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