Optometric Management Tip # 435   -   Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Who should present optional screening tests?

This week's article asks a question that I don't really have the answer to, but I've been studying the matter closely and I can present some pros and cons for your consideration.  And of course, I always like to hear from readers about their experience.  I'll report back with a summary of your input in a future article.

Many eye care providers (ECPs) offer optional special screening tests to patients, not covered by medical insurance or vision plans, for an additional fee.  Typically the fee is nominal and designed to encourage a large number of patients to opt in and agree to the test.  This allows patients who have basic routine vision coverage to obtain the most advanced technology in eye care.  Patients with medical insurance have access to screening tests that are never covered without a medical diagnosis.  Many ECPs report patient acceptance rates of 75% or higher, which validates the concept of special screening tests.  But acceptance rates can vary widely and I believe the manner in which the test is offered can have a huge effect.  What's your experience?

Typical screening tests
Here are a few of the more commonly performed exam upgrade tests:

When, where and by whom the test option is offered to the patient is an important consideration.  Here are some pros and cons for three possibilities.

Receptionist presents the option to the patient at check-in

Technician presents the option during pretesting

Doctor presents the option in the exam room

Regardless of how you offer screening tests now, it may be smart to experiment in your practice with the various options.  It could reveal a method with better patient acceptance, improved efficiency or a less confrontational approach.  Simply try different procedures and track the acceptance rate and revenue production for each over a period of a couple weeks.  Advise staff members that you are testing different methods and ask for their feedback on each.  Listen and observe patient reactions.

Best wishes for continued success,

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