A Practice Brochure: Small Expense, Large Impact
BY CLARKE D. NEWMAN, OD, FAAO
In the Wizard of Oz, the Wizard hands the Scarecrow a piece of paper and tells him that it is the only thing that prevents him from having a brain. If only life were that simple. In just this one case, it really is.
The only thing that keeps you from being an expert in medically necessary contact lens prescribing is that you don't have a brochure. I have a brochure. Do you have one? No? Well, I guess that makes me the expert now, doesn't it?
Seriously, a brochure is a great way to communicate with your patients. We've all been told to create brochures for our practice. However, I've found it particularly useful to have a brochure about special topics — like medically necessary contact lens prescribing.
There's a good bit of information that you'll find yourself saying over and over about insurance coverage, payment responsibilities, etc. Much of it will go right over a patient's head. A brochure details this information and is a handy take-home reference for patients.
What to Include
I created a brochure for my medically necessary patients that covers several key areas. First, I touch on what qualifications I have as a prescriber of these types of lenses. Talk about your experience and any certifications that you might have. I talk about being a Diplomate in the Section on Cornea and Contact Lenses of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). Stuff like that.
However, take care that you do not run afoul of your state laws regarding how to present yourself to the public. Each state has a "Healing Arts Identification Act" of some sort that describes how each licensed profession can describe itself to the public.
For example, in Texas, I can say that I am a Diplomate in the AAO in the text of the brochure, but I cannot identify myself as such in my title. See how confusing things can be? It's best to have your brochure reviewed by counsel before publication.
Second, you should discuss frankly how difficult these lenses are to prescribe, and that success is often elusive. It's important that the patients understand this difficulty and that their expectations should be realistic. Your brochure is a great way to convey that sentiment.
Third, it's important to discuss the process of billing and payment. My brochure touches on medically necessary contact lens benefits and exclusions.
Further, it speaks to the patient's responsibility for payment should the insurance company either "pay" the claim by charging it to the patient's deductible or deny the claim altogether.
A Brochure of Your Own
Creating a brochure is now easier than ever. There are many programs that allow you, even with practically no computer experience, to create professional looking brochures with relatively little effort. I used Microsoft Publisher and it took me less than an hour and a half.
Granted, I can write like crazy, and most people have trouble in that regard. But so what if it takes you three hours to put this brochure together? It will be well worth it. And, if you just can't seem to pull a brochure together, hire a professional. How much could it cost?
I have posted a PDF file of my brochure with the online version of this column on the Contact Lens Spectrum Web site. You should look at it, take from it what you will and improve on it. If your brochure is better than mine, and it probably will be, you should share it with your colleagues.
Next month, we'll talk about fees for cosmetic lenses. CLS
Dr. Newman has been in private practice in Dallas, Texas since 1986 specializing in vision rehabilitation through contact lenses as well as corneal disease management, optometric medicine and refractive surgery.