fix this practice
Generate More Referrals
What to do when you lose your primary source
for specialty referrals.
S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.
optometric practice generates approximately 40% of its income from general care
and 60% from specialty care. My referrals for my low vision specialty come from
one retinal specialist who is ready to retire and I have been unable to develop
a similar bond with the new specialist. Any suggestions?
E L. Edge
Let's look outside of our profession for an appropriate analogy. If a town or city
is heavily involved with one major industry and that company leaves the area, the
local economy takes a beating.
I congratulate you for developing at
least one specialty in your practice. The answer to your dilemma is two fold:
Expand your referral base
Create relationships with other retinal specialists
or general ophthalmologists. Corporate doctors are a great source of referrals,
but you must court them. Have a specialty seminar in your office for all corporate
O.D.s. Follow-up with specific referral forms that are easy to use.
Develop a professional newsletter for
corporate O.D.s to help keep your name and services fresh in their minds. Unfortunately,
most independent optometrists have not learned to refer. This has created a true
weakness within our profession. Developing a much broader referral base can give
you safety and security.
Add an additional specialty
Corneal refractive therapy (CRT), developmental
vision, orthoptics and computer vision syndrome are all viable optometric specialty
options. Your patients benefit from these great services and you reap much higher
financial rewards due to the fact that these are fee-for-service specialties with
a low cost-of-goods. The distance patients are willing to travel to see a specialist
is far greater than they will travel to a generalist.
Explore your options
Dr. J. Babst called my company after losing his
main referral source for his orthoptics and developmental vision specialties. The
source was referring at least $350,000 of this practice's professional services
annually. During my interview, it became evident that Dr. Babst had taken these
referrals for granted and allowed other facets of his practice to slide. Medical
optometry, optical and general revenues on the non-referral side of the practice
During my on-site consultation, I taught
Dr. Babst and his staff techniques that enabled them to fill their schedule with
patients as opposed to waiting for the telephone to ring. I incorporated CRT and
taught them both the clinical and management aspects of this specialty. The increased
patient volume and the addition of high fee-for-service specialty, combined with
maximized medical reimbursements grew his non-referral practice from $250,000 to
$550,000 in two years.
As optometrists and practice owners,
we must always evaluate the big picture of the entire practice. Do not allow yourself
to become complacent. Continue to add instruments and services that expand the practice
size and raise your net income. Do not lose focus. Continue to push out and make
DR. KATTOUF IS
PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND
CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL
(800) 745-EYES OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM.
THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL
Optometric Management, Issue: April 2006