Recognize Your Value as a Contact Lens Expert
BY CARLA J. MACK, OD, FAAO, EDITOR
I feel compelled to revisit a topic that I wrote about in the March 2005 issue of our sister publication Optometric Management. It was titled "The Value of Our Services." Frankly, I'm disappointed with eyecare practitioners not appropriately charging for their services, making assumptions about their patients' ability to pay and not seeing the value in the services they provide. I've heard numerous complaints, mainly from optometrists, that contact lenses and contact lens fittings aren't profitable. Listen up, folks — as the practitioner, you determine your fees and your fee structure. You determine the managed care plans that you will accept. You must maintain consistent and ethical coding and billing practices.
Are you guilty of making assumptions regarding your patients' ability to pay? I've heard too many of you say, "my patients can't afford daily disposables," or, "my practice is comprised mainly of lower income patients." Do you think the sales person at the local cell phone store looks people up and down as they walk up to the counter and then says, "I'd love to sell you a cell phone and service plan that satisfies your needs, but I've already determined you can't afford it"? I'm not trying to compare cell phones to contact lenses. On the contrary, there is no comparison, which is why you shouldn't undervalue your expertise.
Have you turned your practice into one that caters to patients who now expect free care or free products? I can't imagine seeking out services from a healthcare professional, receiving care and then expecting not to be charged.
Every patient wants you to offer the best treatment plan for his or her individual needs. If I made a choice to visit my dentist, primary care doctor, dermatologist or other physician and felt any of them weren't offering me the latest, most technologically advanced product, device, service or surgical option, then I wouldn't return to that physician for future care.
We have access to more contact lens materials, designs, parameters and instrumentation to provide innovative treatments and enhanced vision to more patients than ever before. Just as your patients have a choice, you have a choice. You can be an advocate and a champion for the value you provide as a contact lens expert.
On a different note, with 2007 coming to a close I'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for your continued support of Contact Lens Spectrum and to wish you all a joyous holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2008.