Options for Patients, More Revenue for Your Practice
GARY GERBER, OD
Most things in life aren't black or white. Remembering
that gray is a color can help you boost your contact lens practice by increasing
your referral base as well as your revenues.
Instead of Or
Most appointment calls to our practices include, "Will you
be coming to our office for glasses or contact lenses?" If the patient answers "contact
lenses," then a few days later we'll invariably discuss "back-up" eyeglasses at
the close of the appointment.
However, if we set the stage differently from the first call by
asking, "Will you be coming to our office for glasses or for contact lenses and
glasses?" then the patient immediately considers that contact lenses and glasses
aren't an 'either or' proposition, but rather a combination approach to vision correction.
A la carte practices transition into complete dinner offices in which practitioners
no longer relegate eyeglasses as something to have "just in case of an emergency,"
but put them on equal footing with contact lenses. Of course, the opposite is true
for patients requesting eyeglasses. Discussing contact lenses together with eyeglasses
not in addition to them will ultimately increase the number of lenses
Similarly, most of us consider contact lenses to be a full-time
method of correction for most of our patients. The exception may be daily disposable
lenses which, by the way, do work for full time wear. However, just as we
routinely discuss "lifestyle dispensing" with eyeglasses, we can do the same with
contact lenses. Even though patients can use lenses other than daily disposables
as a part-time correction, we rarely discuss this option.
Many Instead of One
After trying 81 brands of soft lenses and 17 GP designs, the patient
you're fitting likes the vision with Brand X lenses but prefers the comfort of Brand
Y, which of course, has less vision than Brand X. Because you can't find another
lens that offers the best vision and comfort, instead of pulling the plug, fit both!
Provided both len-ses are physiologically safe for the patient, let him know that
when he requires a bit more acuity, he should use X. If he wants to wear the lenses
for longer time periods and can safely compromise acuity, he should use Y. Of course,
you should put him on a list with other marginally successful patients and call
him when you have a more comprehensive solution.
Lifestyle dispensing of contact lenses makes sense for athletes,
and patients with certain occupations. As in our example, if your patient really
has his heart set on blue eyes, but his blue lenses aren't as sharp as his green
ones, dispense both. Beyond the obvious bottom line advantages for your practice,
you'll succeed in providing an answer that rivals the compromising alternative.
Our clients using these creative dispensing alternatives are seeing
referrals from other practices and hearing, "Why didn't my other doctor tell me
Backing ourselves into corners with presbyopes who are trying
to decide between monovision, multifocal lenses or distance contact lenses with
reading glasses is a common example of this. After many patients report successes
with one modality and failure in another, we may be tempted not to fit the patient.
Instead, explain the limitations of each modality (before fitting them instead of
after) and dispense more than one modality.
Changing Your Mindset
Don't be that "other doctor." Think gray. Think "and" instead
of "or" and think many instead of one. Collectively, these mindset changes will
help you grow your contact lens practice.
Dr. Gerber is the president
of the Power Practice® – a company offering consulting, seminars and
software solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: September 2005