contact lens economics
Is Part of Your Success
BY WALTER WEST, OD, FAAO
Contemporary marketing and business principles tell us that regardless of the product involved, a sound delivery system is essential. Terms like "just in time" production, delivery and inventory management abound
To efficiently run your practice like the business it is, you must adhere to sound business principles. First of all, you must decide exactly what you will be offering your patient base. Will you offer high quality products with exceptional service? Or will you offer value-oriented/high volume services with volume-oriented (discount) pricing? Each has its positive and negative aspects, but both can offer the means to a successful business.
Your contact lens program should follow suit. If patients are paying you premium fees for premium products and care, they expect and deserve top-notch service. This includes immediate or expedited delivery of the products you prescribe. If you prescribe a lens because of a specific patient need that it uniquely addresses, the patient will be inclined to wait a few extra days for it. However, if delays and back-orders are typical of a manufacturer that you frequently use, then you should rethink your supply-chain partner.
Select A Supplier
With RGP suppliers, you should look for the following:
- Variety of materials offered. While button manufacturers may offer materials of similar properties, it is wise to use a lab that is used to dealing with a variety of plastics.
- Variety of designs offered. Your RGP lab should be able to make the standard tri-curve designs for your typical patients: bitorics, aspheric and translating bifocals in addition to the more unique keratoconic designs. Many labs offer their own proprietary designs as well.
- High quality work, tight adherence to specifications, and accurate duplication.
- Prompt and consistent service.
- Availability of consignment inventory. While some practitioners do not like to fit RGPs from inventory, a consignment is still useful for emergency replacements and patient demonstration purposes.
- Exchange and return policies.
There are a handful of major soft lens suppliers from which to choose your primary and secondary lenses. I suggest having a "workhorse" spherical lens in which you can fit a large percentage of patients. This provides efficiencies of inventory/delivery systems as well as staff familiarity. Your secondary lens should be one that can help troubleshoot those cases in which your primary lens is unsuccessful. Specialty designs such as torics and bifocals should follow suit. Again, this increases staff efficiency as they assist in the fitting process.
Select Primary and
When selecting your primary lens in each category, your first consideration is obviously the quality of the product. However, your next consideration is nearly as important: the quality of the manufacturer's delivery systems.
You may find ordering and delivery more efficient when the primary lens in each category comes from the same manufacturer. As large manufacturers acquire smaller manufacturers, broadening product lines are being offered from each supplier.
Yet another consideration in selecting your primary lenses/ suppliers is quality and consistency of patient marketing programs.
Providing efficient delivery systems to complement the outstanding service and high quality products you prescribe is the most effective way to maintain and grow your contact lens patient base.
Dr. West practices in Brentwood, TN, and lectures nationally and internationally on contact lens and practice management topics.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: February 2002