Article Date: 3/1/2013

A Glaring Weakness
glare

A Glaring Weakness

Here’s how to increase your anti-glare add-on rate.

JEREMY CIANO, O.D., CARMEL, IND.

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Prescribing anti-glare coatings for our patients sets up a win-win opportunity for both our patients and our practices for the following reasons:

► Our patients appreciate the safety provided during night driving.

► Anti-glare relieves strain during computer use.

► Patients gain crisp, clear visual acuity.

► Anti-glare is profitable for our practice.

► Our office staff receives a higher sense of purpose in discussing it.

So why can’t we, as an industry, make anti-glare standard of care instead of an optional add-on and increase the near 50% acceptance rate?

Here’s how we can accomplish this:

1. Have a prescribing mindset.

Rather than giving the option of anti-reflective coating and trying to “sell it,” change the mindset in your practice to “prescribe it” to your patients. If you truly believe what you are doing is in the best interest of your patients, then it needs to be your standard- of-care approach.

If you are giving your patients the “option” of anti-glare, you need to reevaluate both your approach to this philosophy and your delivery mechanism on the front lines.

To adopt this philosophy, it needs to be a diligent and deliberate weekly conversation. Have monthly meetings as well as individual coaching sessions to reinforce this mindset until the culture of prescribing is fully embraced by everyone. Once that bridge is crossed, there isn’t a need to harp on it.

In my practice, anti-glare coating is part of what we prescribe, and we don’t make it an option. We have gone as far as instructing our opticians that if a patient demands “only free stuff” to give them a “free upgrade this year” to prove to them how beneficial it is. If the patient still insists on passing on anti-glare coating, we explain how its improves their safety while driving at night and reduces computer strain, and that if the patient insists on a pair of glasses that doesn’t meet those visual and health standards then they should take their prescription to another office. While this may be a hard line approach, most patients see the importance and appreciate our professional approach to caring for their needs. Though about 10% still decide to walk away, I would say we are much better off, both now and in the future, with the 90% who want glasses that are fully beneficial.

Our team takes great pride in having a goal of 100% AR-coating, and if we ever get a lab report that says otherwise, they take it upon themselves to find out how one slipped through the cracks.

After you prescribe it, your opticians should re-explain the benefits of having AR on their glasses, then finalize their completed prescription. Here is an example of what I say to patients: “Mrs. Jones, here is your full prescription. We want to make sure you have the best vision possible, and that also means making sure you have the proper coatings and lenses. Your insurance-grade scratch resistance and anti-glare coating and scratch resistance are decent, but they tend to flake off and actually impair your vision after only a few months. Our opticians will make sure you have the best coatings with full warranties to ensure you have great glasses that will last you much longer.”

If you can remove the mindset and retail approach of making anti-glare an option, you will be amazed at how quickly your patients appreciate and accept your firm medical recommendation.

Having potential breakdowns in your philosophy from the time you hand off your patients to the time they pick up their final prescription results in a loss of credibility with your patients and your control of your own practice values.

2. Overcome staff/patient sticker shock.

Many opticians hide behind the excuse that patients think AR is too expensive. If they aren’t comfortable selling your medical recommendations, then you need to address that breakdown in your office philosophy.

In my practice, we try to stress the benefits of anti-glare more than the overall price, and this goes back to the prescribing mindset. If you’ve educated the patient that anti-glare is not an option, they will not see this as an unnecessary cost. Rather than presenting the option of anti-glare vs. no anti-glare, we present different price level options of anti-glare to our patients: insurance-grade anti-glare at $50, or a better option at $75 gives them the best vision possible and lasts longer. This way, trying to upsell a $25 upgrade sounds much less daunting to a patient rather than the option of paying nothing vs. paying $75.

Anti-glare Pricing Checklist
If pricing is a consistent and valid complaint that your staff opticians are hearing from your patient base, you may need to reevaluate your anti-glare coating pricing:
✓ Do you have tiered pricing?
✓ Do you have “good,” “better,” “best” options?
✓ Are there other labs you can partner with to get an equivalent level of product while reducing overhead costs?
✓ Have you asked your lab for a discount on your “go-to” anti-glare coating?
✓ Is your lab partner willing to make you a deal for a month so you can reduce your prices to make the above-referenced “deal” with your opticians? This way, you aren’t taking any financial hit at all during this philosophy shift in your practice.

Still, if pricing truly is a barrier, given your demographics, try cutting your prices for a week or two and see whether your anti-glare percentage rises.

Appeasing your opticians’ perceived barrier for a short amount of time can raise their confidence rate and help them to make your medical recommendations become a reality for your patients.

Consider the following “deal” with your team: Drop all anti-glare coatings prices by 20% for a month for your patients if your opticians can increase your anti-glare rate (to 75%, 85% or even 100%, for example). Eliminating your optician’s perceived barrier to success can increase their production while also benefiting your patients’ vision. (See “Anti-glare Pricing Checklist,” below.)

Crossing the barriers

Given our current conversion rate of patients having anti-glare coatings on their glasses, there is a lot of room for improvement for each one of us. If you could gain an additional profit of $25 from each of your patients by adding something truly beneficial to their glasses (a conservative estimate), what would that do to your bottom line? If you increased your anti-glare percentage to 100% as a philosophical change and you challenged your opticians to change their mindset from “selling products” to “educating about benefits,” it raises the bar of clinical care to improve the quality of life for all your patients.

Remember that, once patients have experienced anti-glare coating, it is very rare for them not to have it put into their next pair of prescriptive lenses. This leads to repeat satisfied customers and benefits for both them and your practice.

But it is up to you to begin your quest to change your mindset, your office culture and your patient’s expectations. OM

images Dr. Ciano practices at RevolutionEYES in Carmel, Ind. He was named a Top 100 Optometrist in the U.S. by the Consumer Research Council. E-mail him at jcbroncos18@yahoo.com, or send comments to opto metricmanagement@gmail.com.


Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: March 2013, page(s): 22 23