As optometrists, one of the better aspects of our profession is options. Options for how we practice, what we promote and sell, and also what we fit for contact lenses. The plethora of choices available to us for fitting and prescribing is vast and truly fortunate. Parameter expansion, along with increased daily disposable and specialty lens supply, has made our jobs easier and our patients’ quality of vision that much better. But what are some of the best things you can do to promote contact lenses in your office?
1. Low-hanging fruit. I find that most doctors I talk to can increase contact lens fittings by simply asking more patients if they want to be fit into contact lenses. This increase in revenue and services provided costs a practice literally nothing more than time. Oftentimes, if you have staff appropriately trained, you can delegate the fit on the same day as the exam, making this convenient and profitable for the patient and your practice.
2. Raise your fees, not your patient frustrations. “But,” you say, “how can I raise fees without upsetting my patient?” I hear of practices that charge a variety of different levels of contact lens fitting fees. The change in fee largely depends on if the patient is going to be re-fit into a new brand or modality. From the patient perspective, what’s her motivation to pay more to try a lens she may or may not like, especially when the lens she’s in seems “just fine?” This is a recipe for stagnation in your contact lens revenues, instead of an opportunity to upgrade your patient into newer technology and higher levels of satisfaction. I know most of my patients appreciate hearing about new technology every time they come in to see me. They don’t always choose to try or move to something new, but they know that it won’t cost them extra to do so. Raise your fees, have only a couple of fee levels, and this will allow you to give your patients new options in contact lens technology.
3. Make sure your patient is in the proper parameter. As an advisor to several contact lens manufacturers, a frustration on their part is why doctors fit patients into spherical lenses when they should be in toric lenses in either one or both eyes. I know it may be slightly easier to grab the spherical equivalent for a patient, but doesn’t a patient deserve to see if a toric delivers higher quality vision, and make a choice based on that? For many of my patients, it makes a huge difference. Again, low-hanging fruit for the practice: you already have the lenses, you will potentially make the patient much happier, and if you are worried about the few minutes longer this may take (which it probably won’t given the new technology and stability of toric lenses), see #2.
4. Give multifocals an opportunity. Seguing off of #3, multifocals are a true opportunity for your patients, and fitting has never been easier. I find that the best success in fitting comes with setting appropriate expectations with the patient. Achieving binocularity with multifocals is often preferable for many patients versus monovision, and again, let them experience the multifocal and if they do truly prefer monovision, at the very least you’ve allowed them the chance to experience new technology. I often have more than one contact lens Rx for my multifocal patients, so just like multiple pairs of glasses, they can choose the best contact lens for the activity to optimize vision.
5. Prepare pricing information for the patient. I prefer to be transparent with patients, and although I don’t know pricing off the top of my head, I do inform the patient that they will have all pricing information regarding the contact lenses they are being fit with prior to leaving the office. This gives your staff the opportunity to highlight the rebates and insurance benefits, as well as compare to online pricing. The patient leaves with all the information in hand and education from the doctor as to the technology of the contact lens and why she is benefiting from them. I find this drastically reduces patients calling and emailing with questions, increases annual supply capture rates, and improves their impression of your practice.
Every tip listed here literally costs you nothing more than changing your habits and fitting process and can make a dramatic impact to your bottom line. In the process, you will improve patient satisfaction, which is the ultimate practice-builder.
Gina M. Wesley OD, MS, FAAO owns and practices at Complete Eye Care in Medina, MN. Accolades include Minnesota's Young Optometrist of the Year in 2011 and the Early Professional Achievement Award from The Ohio State University College of Optometry in 2013. She is a member of the American Optometric Association, a fellow in the American Academy of Optometry and enjoys practicing, writing and lecturing in the industry