Article

CLINICAL: DRY EYE

Buying DED Devices

Consider these five items when investigating a purchase

A few years ago, I saw a Patagonia ski jacket. When I looked at its price tag, I almost fell over. That said, I tried on the coat anyway. It was so lightweight, it felt like nothing. Because I valued this feature greatly, I bought the coat. My point: Cost is always our primary concern, but is it really where the sole focus should be?

Here’s a list of the five items we should consider when investigating the purchase of dry eye devices, in order of importance. (Note that cost is last).

Dr. Hauser in her Patagonia jacket.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Whitney Hauser

1 FOOTPRINT

Consider how much square footage the practice has to dedicate to the new equipment and, equally, patient flow. Also, if there is space in a particular room, but it’s too out of the way or inaccessible, we’ve just hit a barrier to its use.

2 PATIENT BASE

Dry eye centers often have the “If I build it, they will come” mentality, only to be sorely disappointed when patients don’t.

Buying a new instrument means taking a deep dive into patient demographics. Look not only at whether our practices are coding DED, but who those patients are and where they live within our communities, specifically for marketing purposes. A retrospective review gives us an idea of where we’ve been, so we can plot where we want to go.

3 EASE OF USE

Many successful (read “busy”) primary care practices are the most interested in adding new offerings, such as DED care. These are the practices already going all guns blazing all day, every day and, therefore, don’t have a lot of spare time to learn something new, much less take the time to create a road map of implementation.

To avoid having new equipment eventually sit and collect dust, we should do our due diligence to find equipment that is efficient to learn and operate.

4 THE “RIGHT” STAFF

When I say the “right” staff, I’m referring to the question, “Are they on the right seat of the bus?” posed by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. This means, are staff in positions in which they can be great for the practice? For example, if we have a staff member who has a heart of gold, is patient — DED patients require a lot of patience, hand holding and education — and eager to learn, is she in a position to do so? Or, is she in the back office overseeing billing and coding? The right team member in the right seat on the bus poises our practices for success.

5 COST

We all know cost matters. That said, so does the device’s value to the practice, in terms of the other items discussed.

Something else to consider: It’s not strictly about the capital investment. We must also assess the cost of the related disposables, patient charge per procedure and, ultimately, what the margin will be. Once the margin per procedure is established, the time it takes to execute the treatment and the engagement level (or time taken) of the doctor or staff member must also be factored in. Only then can we truly begin to calculate the actual “cost.”

Oh and about that coat: My investment proved wise. That jacket has kept me warm all over the world, and bonus: It looks as good as new! OM