Solutions to Patients' Needs
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
You really should read Mark Ritson, PhD's article in this issue. While working for the London Business School, the Melbourne Business School in Australia associate professor guided his 15 graduate students through a strategic analysis (in Europe) of the relative value and profitability of contact lens-only patients compared to contact lens patients who also acquire spectacles and spectacle-only patients. The study was sponsored by Euromcontact, which is composed of Bausch & Lomb, CIBA Vision, Johnson & Johnson, Allergan and Essilor.
First of all, and Dr. Ritson agrees, proper patient care comes first. But once we make sure that patients are good candidates for contact lenses and once we fit, instruct and monitor them properly, then we can and should consider how we profit from various types of patients. We've had reports in the past in Contact Lens Spectrum about the relative profitability of contact lens (and spectacle) patients vs. spectacle-only patients (Pier, Hanks, Christensen). But these authors reported on just one practice, and brilliant practitioners operating in carefully controlled settings aren't necessarily proof, as is Dr. Ritson's study, that a concept is generalizable to most practices.
The results of the London Business School study show that in more than 200 practices among five countries and there's no reason to believe that the same doesn't hold true in the United States the evidence is clear. In short: Contact lens patients are 60 percent more profitable than are spectacle-only patients. And we also know that contact lens patients are more loyal and they return more frequently for care. We also know that proactively recommending contact lenses to good patient candidates is far more likely to result in new contact lens wearers. And in this day and age, few patients are poor candidates. So, fitting contact lenses seems to be a win-win situation: Your patients get what they want proper contact lens and spectacle care and your practice profits.