The Long-Term Value of a Contact Lens Patient
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
Contact lens patients are valuable to your practice from a revenue point of view even in these days of nonprofessional contact lens providers. First and foremost, we must provide the best care to our patients. But we deserve compensation for our services because they're valuable.
If you charge for your knowledge, your thinking, your overhead, your lenses and your prescribing or fitting, then contact lens patients represent a long-term income for your practice. We've delivered this message many times over the last nearly 30 years, first in Contact Lens Forum and over the past two decades in Contact Lens Spectrum. Studies by Drs. Tony Hanks and Michael Pier especially have demonstrated the importance of proactive contact lens prescribing and the far greater value of contact lens patients compared to spectacle-only patients.
One recent survey indicates that a female contact lens patient who wears lenses from age 15 to age 24 represents a potential $240 of income to a practice each year. Yes, each year! Twenty to 30 percent of income comes from contact lens patients in a typical optometry practice. Contact lens patients have more frequent examinations and are more loyal to a practice. Young, healthy, successful contact lens patients become older and develop age-related eye problems, and keeping them in your practice keeps the value and profitability in your practice. These patients may have allergies, dry eye and eventually presbyopia and teenage children who need contact lenses. It's the circle of contact lens life, you might say. And of course, they all need a good pair of spectacles and sunglasses.
Eventually, we all discuss options if patients ask about our recommendations. But it's best to not only make the best recommendation, but also to prescribe the best recommendation. A written recommendation or prescription is powerful and helps ensure that patients not only use the medications, contact lenses and solutions that you prescribe in the manner in which you'd like them to, but also that they remain in your practice to further maximize their value to you.
To maximize your practice income while providing great patient care, you need to proactively prescribe contact lenses, keep your contact lens patients in your practice and realize that, over the long term, both you and your patients are benefitting maximally.