Optometric Management Tip # 211   -   Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The Contact Lens Training Room: An Outdated Space?

I think about office design a lot, for my own practice and that of my clients. How we use our precious, limited office space can have a huge effect on productivity and revenue. I see office design as ever-evolving over time as the needs of the practice change. Finding a different purpose for a room can change clinical procedures, which can increase revenue by thousands of dollars per month.

One room that has historically been included in nearly every optometric office is the contact lens training room. Also known as CL dispensing; insertion and removal; application and removal; patient education; hygiene; instruction; or whatever you may call it, the need for the room has changed. In many offices, there are far more important uses for this perfectly sized room. Just one additional room, put to optimum use, can provide major benefits to a practice.

Times have changed

Consider these factors that may make you rethink the CL dispensing room. Where to dispense contacts?

If there is enough office space, which there rarely is, I can see a dedicated room for contact lens training. It would have solutions displayed and stored and it might also have sunglasses displayed. Some offices store trial contact lenses and revenue packs of lenses in the dispensing room as well, for doctors and staff to access. Other offices keep the contact lens inventory in a lab-like setting that is not easily seen by patients. Contact lens inventories can be impressive to patients, so they could even be displayed in a large open area or hallway Ė but keep the look uniform and professional. With all the various rack systems and box designs that are available, it can easily look hodge-podge.

If office space is at a premium, however, I would consider dispensing contact lenses in the optical area. A semi-private space could be set up with a table and stools for the patient and the technician, and it could have a contact lens theme around it. Yet this space could be used for eyeglass dispensing, adjusting or frame selection, when not being used for contact lenses. Some might think privacy is needed when a person is placing a CL on his eye, but I donít think anyone thinks much of it or even notices. Itís an eye doctorís office.

Contact lens care and handling can also be instructed or reviewed in any exam room, with a hospital table pushed up to the exam chair. All you need is a mirror, solution and tissues. This offers a lot of flexibility for a task that does not take long and does not happen all that often.

What else could you do with a CL room?

If you are thinking of converting an underutilized CL room to something else, I would think about pre-testing or special testing. An extra room is a great way to increase the delegation of procedures to your staff, which increases exam throughput. Here are some instruments you could place in this room. Changes in your office send strong signals to your patients and staff that you are on the cutting edge of the profession. Itís great for your image to make something happen!

Best wishes for continued success,

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