The Business of Contact Lenses
Eight Ways to Not Grow Your Dry Eye Practice
By Gary Gerber, OD
I have written in the past about the practice building benefits of incorporating dry eye management into your practice. I'm not talking about simply dabbling, but actively focusing on building that segment of your practice. Seeing how many practitioners have yet to embrace this idea, I want to take a different approach and discuss several strategies you can use to ensure that you do not grow your dry eye practice.
Strategies for Nongrowth
1. Most importantly, make sure you don't recognize dry eye syndrome (DES) as a significant problem for your patients. After all, everyone's eyes are dry every now and then, right? So, “Mrs. Jones—stop complaining and get over it. Things could be so much worse.”
2. Since you don't recognize DES as a legitimate concern for your patients, there's no need to treat it as such. Therefore, it's perfectly clinically acceptable to ignore your patients' symptoms and do nothing. Alternatively, it's equally fine to hand patients a few different types of artificial tears and, like handing them a deck of cards, say, “Pick one.” Follow that up with, “If you don't like one drop, just keep trying different ones until you find one that you do like.”
3. For patients who continue to return to the office with ongoing problems, even though you tell them not to come back, make sure you don't charge them for your time. After all, this benign, non-disease state is self-limiting and not serious, and patients can treat it themselves with over-the-counter (OTC) drops. Therefore, you don't deserve to get paid for your time.
4. There is no need to stay up-to-date with DES therapies. After all, all “treatments” are the same, because none of them work anyway—and you're not going to be paid regardless of what you do (because you won't charge your patients).
5. Your colleagues who tell you that they are successful in treating DES, both clinically and financially, are lying. Because with nothing to really treat, and with no way to treat it, they must be lying.
6. Marketing your practice as one that has an emphasis on treating dry eye is pointless. Remember, you can't treat something that doesn't really exist, isn't that important to your patients, and can't be treated anyway. So, don't waste electrons on your Web site talking about dry eye treatment, don't have patient literature available in your practice, and, of course, don't even think of asking patients about typical dry eye symptoms during your history. If a patient responds that he is having problems, he's lying just like your so-called successful colleagues.
7. A multi-tiered approach to DES treatment is the biggest scam in eye care. Not only do OTC drops not work, neither do prescription drops, punctal plugs, meibomian gland dysfunction approaches, or nutraceuticals. They are all bogus treatments for a non-existent disease.
8. There's no need to train your staff to get them on board with your emphasis on treating DES because not only can it not be treated, your staff will think less of you.
Yes, the above is written as a joke—but if that's what it takes to convince you to act and to finally work on this part of your practice, then my efforts at joking will be a success. Patients really do suffer with dry eyes and you really can help them. That help can be life changing for your patients and serve as a major economic boost for your practice. And on those points, I am definitely not kidding. CLS
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 DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.