Article

BUSINESS: New O.D.

Diagnostic Device Technology Use

What you need to know for practice

Like many of you, I too had the privilege in optometry school of using some of the most advanced diagnostic equipment available. Learning how these readily available devices could aid me in both diagnosing and managing various ocular diseases was fascinating and made me even more excited about making a difference in the ocular health and vision of my future patients!

When I opened my own private practice, I learned pretty quickly, however, that I couldn’t afford to have every “cool” diagnostic device at my disposal or add the ones I wanted any time. With this in mind, here’s a look at what new graduates should consider when it comes to diagnostic devices.

AVAILABLE PRACTICE SPACE

Finding the space to add new diagnostic equipment is always a challenge, regardless of the practice size! Deciding which room is best suited to have new equipment located is the first step, taking note not to disrupt patient flow. The second consideration is making sure a table top is available, if needed. Finally, available outlets or networking availability is often overlooked. The bottom line: New O.D.s should keep all these items top of mind before making a purchase.

MY FIRST PURCHASE

The first piece of technology I bought for my practice outside of the basic chair, stand, slit lamp, etc., was an ultra-widefield retinal imaging device. I bought it because:

→ It was a huge “wow” factor for patients.

→ It was compact.

→ It had significant abilities to generate return on investment.

→ I liked having a technology that could aid in my evaluation and management of the retina, as well as provide patient education.

PATIENT NEED

Evaluate the diagnostic device from a patient care perspective: Is the technology necessary to provide patients with the best care? What’s best for the patient is generally best for the practice.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Calculate the new equipment’s return on investment (ROI)to make sure the investment is going to positively impact the practice’s bottom line. To do this, optometrists can break down the cost of the equipment on a monthly basis. A simple calculation: ROI = revenue generated – equipment cost.

To determine anticipated revenue, start by calculating how many patients per day (or per week, if your practice is more specialized) could benefit from the device, and extrapolate that into a monthly number. Then, multiply this by the average cost (total reimbursed revenue from patient or insurance) to get the anticipated monthly revenue generated. From this, subtract what the equipment costs (this is often the loan payment + any disposable materials used in the testing). A wise diagnostic equipment purchase results in a positive number, or profit.

OPERATION TRAINING

Most equipment additions require team training. Sometimes, just one or two key members need to be on board. Other times, it’s all hands-on deck! Turn to the manufacturer’s local representative, who should be ready and willing to assist. Additional opportunities to train are at state or regional conferences that have paraoptometric education tracks.

PRACTICE INTEGRATION

No matter how valuable the diagnostic device is for patient care and the practice’s bottom line, its use will fail if O.D.s and their staffs don’t discuss how, specifically, to integrate it into patient flow. Also, by getting staff involved at the get-go — asking for their input— optometrists can achieve their buy-in for the new device, which will be needed to make its integration successful: If staff is made part of the decision-making process, they’ll want to ensure the diagnostic device launch is successful. OM