Article Submission Guidelines for Practice Management, EHR, Glaucoma, and Managed Care

Exclusive Date: October 2, 2013

Converting Contact Lens Patients to Daily Disposables

 Sponsor: AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal Contact Lenses

Long time readers of this e-column know that I don't plug specific products. I don't want to have any potential conflicts of interest and I can get my point across by referring to a category of products without using brand names. The topic of this article happens to focus on a product category of interest to the sponsor of this Management Tip of the Week series, so I want to give them a special mention. I want to thank Alcon, not only for its ongoing financial support, but also for allowing me complete freedom to write about any topic I wish and for never asking me to plug a product. Alcon is a true friend of optometry.

Daily Disposables
Most optometrists agree that daily disposable contact lenses are the best for ocular health, comfort and convenience. Yet we often struggle with converting a large percentage of our patients to this modality. Optometrists often cite cost as the major obstacle for patients, but I think we may be making that a bigger issue than it needs to be.

My check list for success
Here is my quick list on how to change your approach to daily disposable contact lenses and convert a high percentage of patients. Share this with your clinical technicians and associate doctors and make sure you are all on the same page.

  • Recommend daily disposables. Don't offer a bunch of options and make the patient decide. Patients think of you as the expert and they want to know what you think. Tell them you think daily disposable lenses are the best by far for comfort, convenience and eye health.
  • Do not limit your patient candidates to those who have complaints with their present lenses. One day throw-away lenses are the best modality for any patient as long as the powers parameters are available.
  • Show some enthusiasm! It is OK to act like you have something very special to offer and you are excited about it.
  • Don't bring up price; let the patient bring it up. See the next section below for more on how to discuss price.
  • Don't prejudge the patient's ability to afford daily disposables. We always stress this to staff, but ODs do it also. The patient will let us know if daily disposables are out of his budget and then you can offer the next best option.
  • Don't jump to the cheapest daily disposables; recommend the brand you think is best.
  • Put a lot of lenses on a lot of eyes! A successful trial lens experience plus your recommendation will lead most patients to go with that lens. Tear down the barriers to getting lenses on eyes in your office at no charge and no hassle. Cover all that later.
Provide facts about cost
Of course, eventually we must talk about the price of daily disposable lenses. Either the patent will bring it up or your staff will. When that time comes, act like it is really not a big deal. Yes, it is slightly more expensive over the course of a year, but the benefits make the additional cost far worth it.

I made up a worksheet for our staff or doctors to use to compare the annual cost of our daily disposable lens of choice with several other popular contact lens options. The reason this is so effective is because I include a year of solution cost with any modality that must be stored overnight, but there is zero solution cost with single day lenses. We laminated this sheet so we can use it easily at chairside. Here are some things to put on your worksheet:
  • Choose four or five specific brands of lenses to compare. Possibly a two-week, a monthly, a premium extended wear lens and a budget daily disposable, along with your lens of choice. List these products by brand name.
  • Show everything on annual basis.
  • List several bullet points under each lens. Start with how many pairs of lenses the patient gets. Add some points about the technology. Show the cost per multipack and extend to a full year supply cost. Include a bullet point about solution cost, using zero for daily disposables.
  • I used $168 for annual solution cost. Feel free to make your own estimate and pick a value that is more or less. The important thing is to include it.
  • I did not show exam and fitting costs since they are the same with all these lens modalities and I want the costs to be lower.
  • You decide if you want to show manufacturer rebates or not in your presentation.
  • Show total yearly cost. The premium daily disposable may come out to be $250 to $450 more than the lenses that are reused – but that is for a whole year! Not that big of a deal to a lot of people. They drop $700 on glasses without blinking an eye!
  • You could show monthly costs if you offer a payment plan like Care Credit.
  • I like to show the cost per contact lens – it makes daily lenses look very affordable.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week