Article Date: 9/1/2005

contact lens practice pearls
Setting Goals to Increase Your Contact Lens Practice
BY THOMAS G. QUINN, OD, MS, FAAO

Do you have a healthy general practice but wish you were doing more with contact lenses? Here are a few ideas to help you grow the size and profitability of your contact lens practice.

Commit and Communicate

First commit to providing contact lens services. Establish financial goals and you'll be more likely to achieve them. Follow through by educating your staff and establishing systems and policies for managing contact lens patients. Areas to define include:

Contact Lens Fee System This should include whether you'll present contact lens costs as global or with services and materials itemized separately. We present our service and material fees separately. We bias our service fees high and material fees low. This approach lets us feature the expertise and service that sets us apart from our competition.

Wondering how high to set your fees? Look at skill level required, anticipated number of visits, whether others in your area offer the service, what your competition charges and your material costs. Do a gut check. Can you and your staff present the fee unapologetically? Will your compensation be adequate so you'll happily invest an extra visit to achieve success?

Refund policy How long will you work to achieve success before feeling you should assess additional fees? You should spell this out at the beginning. If you establish a healthy, but reasonable fee up front, you won't be stingy about investing more time to meet a patient's contact lens needs. What if you're unable to fit the patient successfully? Have a refund policy and present it in writing at the outset.

Scheduling Provide your office staff with guidelines about how much time to allow for lens fitting and follow-up visits and where to place these visits in your schedule. We often schedule our contact lens visits between comprehensive exams. Another patient's contact lens visit takes place as the comprehensive exam patient's pupils dilate or while he selects eyewear.

Exude Contact Lenses

Once your systems are in place, have everything about you and your practice speak contact lenses. Specifics might include:

Telephone When patients call for an appointment, ask about their interest in contact lenses. Install an on-hold message system that informs patients about contact lens-related issues.

Reception Area Display posters and/or brochures featuring contact lenses. Consider a video system that educates patients about contact lenses. When patients check in, give them a questionnaire inquiring about their interest in contact lenses.

Outreach Produce an office newsletter with a contact lens section. Communicate with local media on contact lens issues. For example, send a press release about a new contact lens or offer a column on the importance of hygiene with contact lens wear.

Fit Lenses

If you want to build a contact lens practice, you must fit them, even if you're running behind and it's lunchtime and you skipped breakfast. If a patient is a good candidate, slow down and discuss contact lenses and their benefits. The patient may need to return for a fitting, but you'll have started the process.

Stay Informed

Stay on top of contact lens developments. Attend contact lens continuing education courses. Learn about new designs, fitting pearls and troubleshooting strategies. Knowledge must be constant. And when combined with commitment and planning, you have a firm foundation upon which to build a successful contact lens practice.

Dr. Quinn is in group practice in Athens, Ohio, and has served as a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.

 


Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: September 2005