Alisa Khan, OD, graduated from University of Waterloo School of Optometry and went straight into teaching. For nine years, she served on the teaching staff of the university, until the birth of her second child. In 2008, she found it was time to move on, and Dr. Khan opened Milton Eye Care in Milton, Ontario. “Opening a new practice after having been in the academic setting means getting people to know you’re there,” she says. While Dr. Khan didn’t set out to have a pediatric-heavy patient base, she found an opportunity to become known in the community by connecting with her pediatric patients, finding ways to speak to them and generally keeping them happy and engaged during the exam. “I evolved into that role,” she says.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
One of the major boons Dr. Khan has found has in helping her spread the word is by outsourcing EyeCarePro to update her website and social media. “In retrospect, I look back and wish I did it sooner,” she says. She says that in the initial years, especially, this move would have had a big impact. “It would have been nice if I had joined earlier,” she says. “I was managing my own website… who has time for that? I had so much going on with day-to-day management.”
“I’m always impressed when I have my monthly meeting with EyeCarePro,” she says. Her account consultant “seems to be one step ahead with ideas, and is very responsive to my ideas as well.” One example given by Dr. Khan was that her consultant seemed to know what she was thinking about a back-to-school campaign in regards to children’s vision and blue light long-term effects. “Right as I was about to start, he said ‘How about if we run this?’ I said, ‘How did you read my mind?’”
In her partnership with EyeCarePro, Dr. Khan has found the conversations to be easy and well-executed. She is able to provide the most critical information she wants her patients to understand, and EyeCarePro writes the copy and handles the social media and digital marketing. “I give guidance how I want my practice to grow, and they put it together.”
Within the practice, Dr. Khan has started providing more myopia management services. “It goes wonderfully with a pediatric practice,” she says. That involvement has also helped introduce her to some of the research going on. Dr. Khan served on the advisory board for HOYA, which offers the MiyoSmart spectacle lens for myopia control launched in Canada. Her practice also has delved into atropine therapy and multifocal soft contact lenses, and while the practice has not adopted orthokeratology treatment, she has found great success with the other three modes. “We talk about all these options on social media,” she says.
Dr. Khan leans into her carefully developed reputation as an OD who loves working with kids. She spent time going to schools and spreading awareness on the importance of children getting their first eye exam. She’s a participant in the Eye See Eye Learn program through Ontario’s provincial health program that offers children who need eyeglasses a free pair. “I gave talks at the library on children and vision and the importance of eye care. That has helped a lot.”
TEACHER AT HEART
Since Dr. Khan spent the first nine years of her career at her alma mater, teaching has never been far from her heart. She was a clinical supervisor for approximately for the third- and fourth-year students. “Even in the practice, I can create that learning environment,” she says, by emphasizing the whole patient. “We’re not just here to do the routine eye exam and say ‘Here’s your Rx.’ I want them to understand why their eyes are dry, why they need to blink and why this drop is better than that one,” she says. “In my dedicated exam time, I probably spend 40 percent of that time educating patients.” In this regard, COVID-19 has served up a small silver lining. “[We have] lower patient volume, so I was able to spend a bit more time.”
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Like many ODs, Dr. Khan serves double-duty as a parent as well as practice owner. “I have three children, and it’s been chaotic wearing all those hats,” she says. “I’m fortunate I have a great time and supportive staff.” She notes the importance of organization and running a tight ship at work, as well as having a support system in the home.
“It’s a full plate, and you have to like what’s on there. I love being able to work with kids– it’s a fun part of the day,” she says.
In fact, by having handed over the creation and upkeep of website updates and social media postings, Dr. Khan has more time for doing what she enjoys most and is most adept at. EyeCarePro has helped her achieve these goals, even in the unpredictable COVID-19 era. “We were adjusting forms online and communicating information to the patients through the website and social media. We had never used out website that way before,” she says. It showed her how much patients rely on updated and valuable information that is easy to access.