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May 4 2012
Independents Day (ID12) will include a symposium sharing real patients’ thoughts and experiences of independent practice
Over the past seven years Independents Day has built up a reputation as one of the key events in the optical calendar for those in independent practice. This year’s event, on Monday July 9, at The National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, aims to get to the heart of how independents differentiate themselves from the multiples which is seen as ever more essential to thrive in the present economy.
Heightened service levels and developing lasting relationships with patients will be the focus. The conference will be looking at all the close encounters which make up the ‘patient journey’ but in a refreshing change from the conventional conference model, will also hear what patients think about the independent sector’s offering.
ID12 will be devoted to examining the relationship between patients and practitioners, largely from a patient’s eye view. A symposium will have real patients’ thoughts, and experiences from a combination of focus group research and mystery shopping, commissioned by the conference organiser, Proven Track Record (PTR) and shared via Forum Theatre. It will look at the numerous interactions a patient has with various members of the practice team during the customer journey and how these can be improved.
“We have tried to improve on our already successful concept with yet more innovation and, in my opinion, this is the most exciting main programme we’ve ever put together,” said PTR co-director, David Goad. “We promise a stimulating, thought- provoking and interactive programme. This, along with some useful CET, is all designed to ensure practices maximise their investment in taking valuable time out of their businesses.”
PTR has brought together some eminent speakers to support the two interactive patient sessions. Professor Darren Shickle, from the University of Leeds, is a leader in the field of ophthalmic public health and, as part of his current eye research, he analyses data on the uptake of NHS-funded eye tests to explore health inequalities. He will discuss the results of his research, conducted through focus groups and prompted by a low-uptake of NHS-funded eye examinations in the Leeds area. He told OT: “Although people are entitled to free eye tests, some choose not to because they don’t trust that their optometrist isn’t going to sell them something they don’t need. In my experience, optometrists are highly trained, the problem is they do not have the chance to use most of their skills.”
Supporting speakers include psychologist Dr Fiona Fylan, currently the principal examiner in communication for ABDO. Speaking at her third Independents Day, she will use her past research in optics to present ‘What your patients think about you’.
Energetic business consultant and performance coach Carmen Lester has delivered customer journey/ mystery shop programmes, via interactive workshops, throughout the UK and Europe. As a serial spectacle and contact lens buyer, she is perfectly placed to pose the question, ‘So you think you’re good... eh?’
Co-director of PTR, Nick Atkins said: “Independents Day will, once again, deliver a stimulating and thought- provoking programme but with additional interactivity as delegates respond to the feedback of patients about how their experience of our services can be improved.”
In response to delegate feedback, the conference has moved away from being a source of CET points over the past few years to focus on more commercial matters. However, as the 2012 event covers how a practice interacts and communicates with its patients, this year’s main programme will offer CET points. In a change from recent years there is no specific track for optical assistants as the main programme is equally as relevant to them as it is to the professional team.
The 40-company strong exhibition is always popular with proactive business owners looking to find new products and services, which can help grow their business, and this year there is even more time allocated to meet with suppliers.
The successful networking dinner is on the Sunday evening, July 8. Independents Night is a dinner, bed and breakfast package which offers an opportunity for delegates to arrive
on the Sunday prior to the conference and enjoy dinner with like-minded practitioners, plus networking with sponsors and exhibitors.
Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Independents Night guests will be entertained by physiologist professor Greg Whyte, a former double Olympian and modern pentathlete. He is perhaps better known for his training and mentoring of celebrities such as David Walliams and Eddie Izzard in their swimming and running marathons and, most recently, comedian John Bishop in his ‘Week of Hell’, on behalf of Sports Relief. He will give a perspective into what it means to succeed in any challenge.
New for 2012
Recognising the tough economic climate, PTR has come up with a number of initiatives to help keep the cost of attendance down. Most prices are lower than 2011, with the best prices available for bookings made before May 13.
To encourage more practices to bring the team along there’s a new practice team price for a block booking of three delegates. To encourage more owners to bring another two members of the team along, the practice team price starts at £279 (£93 per person) before May 13.
All companies exhibiting this year have delegate discount vouchers to give away to their customers. Voucher values start at £10 from tabletop exhibitors and go up to £30 from title sponsors. Delegates can redeem up to £30 worth of vouchers, in any mix of denominations, against each place booked.
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