Compression therapy in cases of mild vein problems “Putting effort into consultation pays off”
Getting patients with mild vein problems to regularly wear their compression stockings also depends on the dedication of the specialist medical supply retailer when the product is first provided. It is the “overall experience” that matters – from consultation and measurement to stocking selection and provision.
Wow, what an amazing color,” a young woman says to Annemarie Müller, Branch Manager at Orthopädieschuhtechnik Schuh Tasch, an orthopedic supplier based in Erfurt, Germany. Annemarie Müller just showed her patient the current Fashion Color “Cool Mint” for the VenoTrain micro compression stocking. “We frequently receive this kind of response,” the orthotist reports. “It’s hard to believe that, when it comes to the subject of compression therapy, many still think of grandma’s rubber stocking.” Compliance is good to very good, even in patients with mild vein problems – under one condition: “When patients are properly educated, they will accept the product more readily,” says Annemarie Müller.
Younger customers in particular, male and female, are surprisingly open to compression stockings. “This may be because many wear these stockings when traveling, or they know them from sports or pregnancy.” It is more difficult in the age group from 40 to 60. “These patients often arrive with a prescription and say: ‘I’m old now. I need this type of stocking’,” the branch manager reports. When a physician writes a prescription, certifying the medical need, patients are basically aware of their condition. When a medical product is provided for the first time, the four-member team at the Erfurt branch store then always explains to patients how compression works and how it supports treatment. “The correct stocking selection and the exact fit also play an important role to ensure a high level of compliance,” Annemarie Müller emphasizes. When an appointment is made, the orthotist is used to asking when the legs are swollen and when they aren’t. “That‘s because we measure orthopedic, custom-made shoes when the legs are at maximum circumference, and compression stockings at the minimum. And for customers who work shifts, this doesn’t automatically mean the morning,” she explains.
Precise, contact-free measurement
Schuh Tasch uses the Bodytronic 610 to measure customers. “The full-body scanner is now used in all three branches, i.e. in Mühlhausen, Heiligenstadt and in Erfurt. Contact-free measurement with millimeter precision is a real advantage, in particular during times of the coronavirus,” the 30-year-old explains. “On this occasion, we also take a close look at the legs. On the one hand, the suitable stocking depends on the patient’s tissue, and on the other hand, on individual requirements.” Soft tissue requires a stocking that will not constrict, like VenoTrain soft. VenoTrain soft is also a good choice when a more robust stocking is needed based on the job or footwear. “If the connective tissue allows, and the customer likes to wear a skirt and heels, we recommend VenoTrain micro. Thanks to its high microfiber content, it’s not only very soft but also very breathable. I always use a black stocking that I pull over my hand to show that the skin is visible underneath, meaning the skin can breathe,” Annemarie Müller says. Once she has measured a patient, she uses the Bauerfeind online shop to discuss which styles, colors and designs are possible and suitable for the individual customer. “We are able to show all the styles to the customer on the screen. That’s a huge help during the consultation,” the branch manager reports. And the fact that she and her team wear compression stockings themselves during everyday work is another convincing point. “In this way, customers can see what colors the stockings can be combined with.”
When customers come into the branch without a prescription, Annemarie Müller hands them a flyer with Bauerfeind’s current Fashion Colors and refers them to the VenoTrain micro stylist. “We have a link to the online configuration tool on our website. They can use it to click through different styles, patterns and colors and have a look at the final product.”
Speaking of colors: the young woman from the earlier appointment decided on a subtle hue after all. “She’ll be right on trend with that,” Annemarie Müller confirms. A wide range of colors is quite important but most customers choose their first products in standard colors – mainly black, followed by navy and cream. “It’s different for men. The stockings often have to match the shirt. They choose different colors and are also more open to buying additional stockings over the counter.”
Quite a bit of consultation time is needed at Schuh Tasch again when the stocking is handed out. “If this is the first product the customer receives, I will help with donning and explain tips and tricks. Then it’s the customer’s turn while I observe. The biggest mistake is often that customers pull on the stocking too much, rather than donning it properly. The right instruction is key,” the orthotist notes. If the patients’ partners will be donning the product, they will also be asked to attend the appointment. During donning and doffing, the expert can see straight away how the skin reacts to the compression stocking, and she points out proper skin care and relevant products. Donning aids and stocking care are also discussed. “We want to do everything we can on our part to ensure the stockings will actually be worn. That’s why we invest so much time in initial consultation, even if this means a lot of effort,” the branch manager explains. “Our customers’ high compliance and satisfaction prove that this is the right approach.”
Images: Frank Steinhorst
Education leads to compliance, also when it comes to mild vein problems – the Erfurt-based orthopedic supply retailer Orthopädieschuhtechnik Schuh Tasch implements this approach each time they provide someone with compression stockings.
- Especially during the first provision of compression garments, the team takes its time to inform and consult patients. Measurements are taken contact-free using the Bodytronic 610.
- Together with the customer, the appropriate stocking, including its design, color and pattern, is selected from the Bauerfeind online shop.
- At their first appointment, customers are instructed on how to put on the stocking correctly and receive tips for skin and stocking care.