Article Date: 2/1/2006

editor's perspective
The Value of a Contact Lens Patient
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR

In a future issue and in multiple other forms this year, including in print and at a panel discussion at SECO later this month, Contact Lens Spectrum and a major contact lens manufacturer will release the results of an extensive study on the lifetime value of contact lens patients to eyecare practice. Too often eyecare practitioners think that the short-term profit of providing spectacle-only care is more rewarding than providing contact lenses and contact lens care. I believe they subconsciously think about the fact that some patients just won't adapt to contact lenses short term.

We've published work from Pier, Christensen and Hanks in the past indicating that the long-term profitability of a contact lens patient is higher than a spectacle-only patient and that proactively prescribing contact lenses is more profitable to the practice long term because of higher retention rates, higher total fees and higher margins. Contact lens patients return to the practice more frequently, too. Now a major study by Professor Mark Ritson from the London Business School, funded by Vistakon, reveals in very scientific terms, with excellent methodology and expert analysis, that contact lens patients are indeed more valuable to the practice. We will publish this work later this year. It will show that a ridiculously low number of practitioners think contact lens patients are more profitable than spectacle only. Other issues that our discussions with Dr. Ritson will include are keeping patients happy, reducing dropouts and methods of patient communication. We now know and will share with you that conclusively, contact lens patients who are safe in contact lens wear have a valuable experience for themselves and bring value to your practice.

Of course, staff training along with excellent patient-centered professional care and service are essential.

Keep in mind that if you don't properly analyze and apply your fees for professional services, if you don't value your own service enough, if you don't keep your material charges reasonable, and if you don't recall your patients carefully and completely, then the facts that this study will reveal will not benefit you or your patients.



Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: February 2006