Optometric Management Tip # 149   -   Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Restoring Profitability to Your CL Practice

Are you unhappy with the landscape of contact lens practice today? You arenít alone. Many of our colleagues today feel like there is little profit left in materials as they try to compete with big-box stores and on-line resellers. Add to that a trend toward patients wanting their CL prescription, but not understanding the need for ongoing eye health exams or the professional fees that go with the service. Contact lens practice is changing fast, but it can still be rewarding and profitable. Hereís how.

Patient not the enemy

First, we have to get our mindset back on the side of the patient. We can even learn a few things from them, but we have to step outside of our strong optometric paradigm. We have to accept that we need to look at contact lenses from a fresh point of view. That shouldnít be too hard Ė the old point of view is not that great anyway! We have not been successful trying to change the patientís thinking, so maybe we should look at our own thinking.

What you can control

The frustrating thing about contact lens practice is that so much is happening beyond your control. The CL prescription release act, the various forms of competition, the fact that patients are more inclined to shop around, and more. So lets look at the factors you can control. With all the change going on, what have you changed about the way you practice? Probably not much. Letís review two steps to make contact lens work more profitable: Streamline

Most of your CL procedures are based on what you learned in optometry school, but contact lenses have changed drastically since then and so has your skill and intuitive ability to fit lenses. Iíll bet there is waste in your clinical procedures. All you have to do is find it and eliminate it. Ask yourself these questions: Caveat

Please donít misinterpret this streamlining concept to imply that I endorse shoddy care. I know contact lenses are medical devices and I respect every doctorís individual professional judgment to decide how much care is needed. Fitting contact lenses is like any other professional service, whether it be prescribing glasses or treating glaucoma; we each must decide for ourselves what tests are needed and how frequently we need to see a patient based on the inherent risk.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management