In today’s world, we are all looking for a way to increase our revenue per patient without necessarily seeing more patients. We add in eye insurance companies and we are all scratching our heads to find ways to help our bottom line. Thanks to Dr. Pete Kehoe, I’ve learned a simple approach which I want to share with you. It is called Doctor-Driven Dispensing (DDD) and it is so simplistic, it is scary. Talk to your staff and see what they think. They will love it and so will you.
When I came to my staff with the idea they just looked at me and said they had been asking me for years to do just that…prescribe from the exam chair. To follow is a very simple cookbook approach that I take. Try it and you will be amazed what happens. My per patient revenue is one of the highest in the nation, patients are happy, and my Yelp scores are also one of the highest. I want each of you to have the same success. I am sharing this because DDD is not just something you can do at the office, but everywhere. The true secret to DDD is listening to your patients and prescribing to them what exactly what they need and want. Let’s go through this step by step.
1. From the moment the patient emails me or calls the office for an appointment we start the process. We ask them to visit our website and download the patient forms they will need upon check in. This gives them a chance before they even come in the office to know you and your staff better. More importantly, it allows them to look at your website to answer questions.
2. As soon as they walk in the door make them feel like family. We all have busy practices but having a receptionist that is friendly is essential, as well as each and every staff member. I am blessed to have one of the best staff ever. When your staff is in a good mood, the patient will be in a good mood. Believe it or not, we have a business and the business would like to make money. Happy patients spend more money. This is a true statement; remember this, for we will readdress this shortly. Back to checking them in…we have a coffee bar with coffee, tea, hot cider, hot chocolate or water. My receptionist always offers them a cup while they are waiting. We also have up-to-date magazines—not just what I like, but what everyone likes.
3. When the staff brings the patient back they have a conversation while they are pretesting. They are explaining what every test is but more importantly, talking with them about their life, lifestyle, hobbies—what they do besides work. They also ask about work and if they are on the computer, how many monitors they use. We also ask about electronic use at night. All of these questions are so very important for DDD.
4. When I finally meet with the patient I have a wealth of information at my fingertips besides what the staff wrote on the exam. An interesting side note is when I walk in the room, I introduce myself as Eric White; they know I am a doctor, it says so on the front door. I want them to feel like family and comfortable. I make sure I am in a fantastic mood and get them in one too because like I stated earlier, happy patients like to spend money. I then take a moment and ask them about life, kids, grandkids and/or vacations. This helps them to realize that I am listening to them and am interested in them. At this point we start the exam and go over their chief complaint.
5. The secret to DDD, and to life, is listen to your patient, your spouse, your staff, or your family. Too many times we are not truly listening. After I finish the refraction I pull the phoropter back and we have a two-minute conversation of what I will prescribe to them to make their life better. Let me explain. You and your patient are in the all hollows of the exam room. You are the doctor, they are your patient. This is where I am prescribing what they need and why. Taking the time to explain what they need and more importantly, why, is everything. One of the things I have learned is while you’re in the exam chair prescribing what they need if there is kickback or resistance you can have a discussion as a doctor/patient. If they have your undivided attention and you have theirs, you will be amazed at what can be accomplished in just a few minutes. This is why I have extremely high glare-free, digital, high index, light darkening, blue light filters, multiple pairs, glasses and contacts prescribed. Interesting note, did you know just by asking your full-time glasses wearers if they ever considered wearing contacts part time that I have increased significantly this segment of my practice. I explain that I am going to prescribe a 90 pack of daily disposable contacts for them to use on a date, going to the gym, or whenever. They love it. I get income from the contact lens exam and fitting along with contacts…and they still get their glasses. It is a known fact if patients see a need they will find a way to come up with the funds. We help them find a way.
6. The last piece of the puzzle is the hand off. I feel this is extremely important. When I walk with the patient into the optical dispensing area an optician comes up and greets the patient and me. At this time, I prescribe again exactly what they are getting and why. The opticians then repeat a third time to me and the patient what they are getting and why. I love my staff but in today’s world if I do not prescribe what they need, and the opticians say the same exact thing the patient has the impression the opticians are just up-selling them. Since we started DDD we never get this push back and the patients are happier than ever…and my bottom line is the best it has ever been, even in the world of eye insurances.
The bottom line? Doctor-Driven Dispensing does work, it is easy to implement, does not cost a dime except for a few minutes listening to your patients and prescribing from the exam chair what they need and why. You want to increase your per patient revenue. Try it; you will love it!
Eric White, OD is the owner of Complete Family Vision Care Optometry in San Diego, CA. He is a clinical investigator for several contact lens companies having participated on over 420 clinical studies. Dr. White has published several articles on contact lenses and given numerous talks on contact lenses, eye safety, computer vision syndrome and practice management. Dr. White was awarded the 2012 Transitions National Eyecare Practice of the Year, the 2014 Vision Monday Innovator of the Year, the 2015 Transitions Ambassador of the Year and the 2017 San Diego County Optometrist of the Year. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.