In the day-to-day of growing and running our practices, the crux of baseline elevation is to acquire more patients. Patients being the primary driver of our revenues are no surprise, of course, but I’d like to point out that there are many ways to increase revenues in small increments that cost little or next to nothing. The low-hanging fruit, available to most all of us, can really add up over the course of a year. Here are my top three recommendations for increasing revenues with this “fruit”:
Upgrade your patients into what they need, or even better, what they want. In regard to contact lenses, the data available to us via Gallup shows that adults and teens in the U.S. diagnosed with 0.75D of astigmatism or greater comprise 42% of vision corrected population (2016 MSI Gallup Report). This comprises approximately 73 million people. However, of that 73 million, only approximately 24 million are in contact lenses (the opportunity there is another Tip of the Week topic). But, what’s most surprising to me is that of those in contact lenses, only 8.8 million are in toric contact lenses. That means over half of those astigmatism patients in contact lenses are in spherical lenses, when they would benefit from toric, or at least given the opportunity to try toric lenses. And don’t forget the patients who are spherical in one eye and toric in the other. Simply fit your patients in the lenses they need to be in.
Calculated increase in revenue: If you fit your patient into optimized lenses, that elevates your fitting fees as well as lens sales. Estimate a conservative 100 contact lens wearers per month in the average practice. Using the Gallup data, if 42 of them are astigmatic, but over half of them are in spherical lenses, let’s estimate 24 patients could be now fit every month into toric lenses. If your fitting for toric lenses is $10 more than spherical ($10 x 24 = $240), and your average daily disposable annual toric sale generates a conservative $50 ($50 x 24 = $1,200) more in profit than spherical daily disposable, that’s an estimated $1,440 more in monthly revenue, or $17,280 per year. Your cost to implement? Zero.
Part 2 of the above: The same applies for multifocal contact lenses. The options of today far surpass what we had even five years ago. It’s easier than ever to offer this technology to our patients. Talk to your rep, learn about the lens, please don’t assume you fit every single multifocal the same way, and learn how to properly educate your patients on expectations with the lenses.
Calculated increase in revenue: Let's assume of those 100 patients, 20 are presbyopic. You’ve dabbled in multifocals, but not really been persistent, so two of these 20 are already in a multifocal. Assuming your multifocal fitting is at least $50 more than the spherical lenses these patients are in, that's 18 x $50 = $900 per month, and if your average daily disposable multifocal annual sale generates a conservative $100 more in profit than spherical ($100 x 18 = $1,800), that's an estimated $2,700 more in monthly revenue, or $32,400 per year. If you are more inclined to monthly multifocals, that's still an estimated $60 more than an annual supply of spherical multifocals, or $60 x 18 = $1,080, add in the $900 and you have $1,980 more in monthly revenue, or $23,760 per year. Again, your cost to implement? Zero.
Private pay screenings. This could apply to a multitude of technologies, some of which you already have, some of which you could potentially purchase. Screening retinal photos, screening OCT’s, macular pigment density testing, even nutritional counseling could all apply here, and that's just a starting list. At an estimated $20 per test, even if you only have 75 patients per month opt for this enhanced level of examination, that's $20 x 75 = $1,500 increase in monthly revenue. Annualized, this is $18,000. Your cost could be little to nothing if you already have the technology and just need to utilize it in a screening function. Or, it is potentially a great investment if wanting to elevate your level of care and have instrumentation that can serve both private pay and billable functions.
Low hanging fruit is at most of our offices. We just need to implement. Here were some simple and extremely conservative examples (estimates were intentionally left on the low side) of how to build revenues annually approximately $60k, and that’s in a small practice, with almost no capital investment. The sky’s the limit, so don’t just do what your neighbor does. Excel.
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. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.