from the top
Increase Your Follow-Up
Stimulate your profits by focusing on the
patients you already have.
By Gary Gerber, O.D.
most powerful practice-building strategy of the next millennium isn't raising
your fees or seeing more patients. It has nothing to do with new technology,
staff meetings, dealing with managed care or delegating. No, it's much simpler
than any of those topics. It's to change your recall system from a yearly
program to a daily program.
You'll no longer need your recall
postcards because you'll have conditioned your patients to return to your office
for their yearly exam every day! Wow, what a great idea -- instead of seeing
2,000 patients each year, you'll just see the same 2,000 patients every single
No, I'm not serious. But this
admittedly extreme example does illustrate the most overlooked concept you can
use to build your practice. When I lecture, I often ask the audience, "Only
three methods are effective in increasing your practice's net -- what are
they?" Virtually every group immediately knows the first two: See more
patients and raise your fees. From there, most doctors are at a loss for the
third item and start expanding on the first two ideas.
higher-end products" (raise your fees), "Set up referral
programs" (more patients). Indeed, it's rare that anyone responds with
"See the patients you already have in your practice more frequently."
concept here isn't simply another attempt to get you to focus on your recall
program. Hopefully, you're already doing that.
my point is to further explore the impact of this third axis of practice
building -- the one that happens over time. You see, in the final analysis there
really are only three ways to increase your practice's profits: Charge more
money, see more patients and see them more frequently.
them to return
First, of course, you
should have a firm and credible recall philosophy and program in place that your
staff understands and consistently delivers to your patients. Beyond that point,
consider the benefits of new technology.
widely agreed that compliance with daily and monthly continuous wear contact
lenses is far superior to more commonly prescribed two-week lenses. Therefore,
taking the product margins out of the equation (which are generally higher with
the former lenses than the latter anyway), two-week lenses are significantly
less profitable because patients will return for professional care less often.
diagnostic equipment is also a great way to stay in touch with your patients.
Nearly every diagnostic test we might perform for a patient has more clinical
value when we perform it a second time. So explain to patients from the outset
that the tests you're ordering today are part of a continuum of tests that
you'll repeat in a few months.
regular tune ups
Most patients don't
care for their eyeglasses as well as we'd like them to. Consider scheduling
"eyeglass tune ups" to keep their glasses comfortable and properly
adjusted. These visits usually take minutes, yet further cement the relationship
between your practice and your patients. Furthermore, they allow another
opportunity to remind patients of their next regularly scheduled visit.
a bit slow? Avoid the knee-jerk reflex of attempting to get new patients to join
your practice. Remember the third overlooked axis and communicate with the
patients you already have!
Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company specializing in making
optometrists more profitable. Learn more at www.powerpractice.com
or call Dr. Gerber at (800) 867-9303.
Optometric Management, Issue: June 2003