As an account representative for Bio-Tissue, I look forward to visiting with doctors and staff and talking about the benefits of PROKERA. However, when I recently became a patient, I learned even more about the benefits of this biologic corneal bandage with cryopreserved amniotic membrane. This experience not only helped heal my ocular surface, but also provided valuable information I can pass on to doctors and staff.
Pictured: Veronica with PROKERA inserted in left eye, and shield worn at night while sleeping.
I had been experiencing dry eye symptoms for a while. So I asked one of our customers I planned to visit if I could get an eye exam while there. The next day, I had an exam including fluorescein staining, and the doctor told me that my eyes were pretty dry considering my age and that I had some superficial punctate keratitis (SPK). He recommended PROKERA. However, I think he was a bit surprised when I said, “let’s do it, and today!”
I had already tried Restasis® and Xiidra® to no avail, and I knew PROKERA would help with my SPK. But I also wanted to experience having PROKERA inserted from beginning to end. I thought it would be great to go into some of the other practices I was planning to see that same day, some of which were not yet using PROKERA, and allow them to see first hand what it looks like once inserted. I also wanted to provide an opportunity for them to examine my eyes and hear my personal testimony.
Here are five key things I learned from this experience:
Patient testimonials are beneficial. While I was in the practice, another patient came in and the doctor asked how she was doing with eye drops. She said that she isn’t good about using them so her dry eye was the same. He then said, “remember the amniotic tissue that I mentioned?” Well I just put one, called PROKERA, in this patient’s eye.” He didn’t mention that I was an account representative nor did I. So as a patient, I was able to answer questions she had and she ended up getting PROKERA inserted that same day as well!
Insertions are quick and easy. When this other patient first decided she wanted PROKERA, initially the doctor recommended she make an appointment to come back. So I pulled him aside and suggested that if he has an open slot, why wouldn’t he just go ahead and insert PROKERA while she is here and willing? So, he ended up going ahead and inserting it that same day.
Staff involvement helps with efficiency. One of the reasons it worked for this doctor to do the insertion that same day both for me and his other patient, is that his technicians are trained to get PROKERA ready for insertion including rinsing it. So he could simply say, “I need a PROKERA” and his technician knew exactly what to do. Training technicians, as well as other staff that help with patient education, is crucial.
Setting patients’ expectations is key. Once I left the office, I was on a mission to see as many doctors as possible with PROKERA in my eye. One of my biggest surprises was that almost everyone seemed shocked and asked, “Aren’t you uncomfortable?” to which my response was “no.” I did feel like I had something foreign in my eye, but it’s not that uncomfortable and once you get past the first 12-24 hours, it gets easier. Making patients aware of what it will be like will help set expectations so they are prepared and stay motivated. I do recommend taping the eye especially during the first 24 hours, something I understand even more after experiencing it. I also used the eye shield the doctor gave me while I slept as not to rub my eye, and artificial tears helped with comfort.
And last but not least, PROKERA works! Typically my eyes are red in the morning and feel dry, but after PROKERA, my treated eye was completely clear with no pain or burning. This made me realize I had been dealing with pain for a while and didn’t even realize it. I can’t wait to get the other eye done and plan to try PROKERA Clear, both for something different and also to help with my vision during treatment, especially for driving and computer work.
My experience being treated with PROKERA has not only helped the health of my eye, but will also help me to provide exceptional service and support to our customers. I look forward to continuing to share my experience and success!
Veronica Russell is an account representative for Bio-Tissue in Arkansas, Tennessee and Northwest Mississippi. Veronica has worked in the eye care industry for nearly 10 years and is based in Memphis, Tennessee.