How Solid is Your Contact Lens Policy?
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
Sticky situations in clinical practice—I am sure that you (and your staff) deal with them every day. There are so many scenarios, and I am sure you’ve heard them all—but none-the-less, some examples can serve this discussion well. The long-time patient whose child was fitted in contact lenses and already purchased a year’s supply who later “decides” that the child doesn’t want to wear contact lenses—sound familiar? How about the irregular cornea patient whom you’ve spent hours fitting in a specialty contact lens who then wants to purchase the contact lens over the internet—and the ensuing discussion and frustration when you try to explain that most of these lenses are not available that way? There are patients who complain about a contact lens fitting fee when their contact lens prescription “did not change.” And who can forget the patients who’ve had an eye exam “elsewhere” and who simply want you to give them a contact lens prescription? We all know how frustrating these scenarios are, but how you and your staff deal with them is key to maintaining your professional reputation.
My experience is that a clearly written, transparent contact lens policy is the key to overcoming these sticky situations. At a minimum, your policy should cover your fitting fees, costs, discounts, rebates and returns, and expiration dates. Beyond this, you might even consider other issues such as expectations for lens wear and care, follow-up visits, and other medico-legal documentation (e.g., risks associated with contact lens wear).
With all of this in mind, even the most well-written, comprehensive policy does no one any good if it is not known by your staff and not publicly available to all patients of the practice. Post it on your website, frame it for your check-in area, and make it available as a paper copy—do yourself, your staff, your practice, and your patients a favor with up-front communication to make these situations a little less sticky.