Every practice has a system of some kind for storing eyeglasses and contact lenses that are ready to be picked up by patients. I’ll admit that the method used in my practice was way past due for an overhaul. We had been using a file cabinet with smaller drawers to store glasses in alphabetical order by patient last name. The problem was that we had many more glasses to store than we did when this system was devised and the cases, boxes and bags that go with the glasses can be fairly large. This led us to use plastic storage bins for the overflow. We faced the same challenge with contact lenses: many more orders waiting to be dispensed and a full year supply of daily disposables can be quite large.
One of our office managers suggested we consider a system she had seen at major pharmacies which uses clear plastic bags that have a hook at the top for hanging on a rod. It’s kind of like a clothes rod and hanger, but with a plastic bag attached. I’m sure most of us have seen these in drug stores and some ODs may already use this method for optical products, but I thought the idea was worth sharing here.
To see photos and examples of this storage method, just Google “hanging prescription bags”.
Benefits of bags
The main benefit of the hanging Rx bag system is its flexibility. By using long horizontal rods to hang the bags from, you can move them as needed and make more room for new bags where needed. If you use drawers that are labeled with letters for alphabetic filing, you can easily find that a drawer is filled and will not accept another product. With floating bags, there is no concern that you have too many patients with a last name beginning with a certain letter.
Because the bags are clear, your staff can insert the glasses or contacts in a manner that allows the patient’s name on the job ticket to show through, eliminating the need to have to rewrite it.
The bags are flexible enough to handle any size case, box, cleaning cloth, paperwork or whatever and they come in different sizes so you can choose the one that serves your needs best. The bags are reusable but are inexpensive enough that they can be replaced when worn.
All you need to install this Rx storage system is a blank wall. A wall mounted rack is available from most bag suppliers or you can do your own custom installation with rods made of metal, plastic or wood in 3/8 inch diameter. You can easily have four or more rods running parallel across the wall. Count how many eyeglass and contact lens orders you typically have on hand to be dispensed and calculate how many total linear feet of rods you will need. The rods will need to extend out about eight inches off the wall to allow clearance for the hanging bag.
Most vendors of Rx storage bags also sell plastic hanging tabs that can be labeled with the letters of the alphabet for easy access.
Choose a location for the storage system that minimizes steps for the staff who are tasked with retrieving the products. I think the appearance of the hanging bag system is impressive to patients. The look is one of a working office and it can create the image that your practice dispenses a lot of eyewear!
The presentation of the product
I’ve recommended in the past that it is smart to use nice trays, such as those suitable for showing jewelry, to bring the new glasses to the dispensing station. We should be mindful of the presentation of the optical product from the patient’s point of view. Some practices add a piece of fine chocolate, a nice bag, lens cleaner or other giveaway items.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.