Contact Lens Practice Pearls
Long-Term Benefits of an Annual Supply of Lenses
By Gregory J. Nixon, OD, FAAO
When patients buy an annual supply of contact lenses up front, not only does your practice benefit financially, but your patients do as well. The major manufacturers typically waive shipping costs when patients buy an annual supply, and they often also offer cash-back rebates.
Beyond the immediate fiscal gains of patients purchasing an annual supply of contact lenses, however, lie additional long-term benefits to your patients and to your practice.
Improved Lens Care and Wearing Habits
The most significant benefit of patients purchasing an annual supply of lenses is to the patients themselves. When they have a full complement of contact lenses available, they are more likely to replace them according to the recommended replacement schedule. Better lens replacement compliance results in fewer complications and helps maintain ocular health. In addition, when patients have fewer complications, you have fewer emergency office visits and less disruption to your busy patient care schedules.
Annual Exam Recall Reminder
The improved lens replacement compliance that often results from having a year’s supply of contact lenses on hand can in turn lead to compliance with the annual examination. When patients are down to their last pair of lenses, they’re prompted to make an appointment to have their eye health and their prescription checked before buying another year’s worth of lenses.
A Time-Saver in the Practice
The biggest practice benefit of annual supply purchases is the time saved by you and your staff. For example, a patient who wears two-week replacement contact lenses and buys his lenses one box per eye at a time must call your office three times during the year to order more contact lenses. Each time the patient calls, your staff must field the call, review the chart, verify the prescription, complete the transaction, place the order, and track the order. These activities take a significant amount of time and divert your staff from caring for patients who are in the office.
Staff time is more valuable now than ever before. With the increased demands on our practices as we convert to electronic health records, meet meaningful use criteria, and deal with never-ending insurance issues to maintain great patient care—there is tremendous value in minimizing further disruptions to your staff.
Promoting Annual Supplies
As with most activities that require patients to adhere to specific instructions, compliance with lens replacement begins with the practitioners’ recommendation. Although staff members may order contact lenses, I believe practitioners should discuss purchasing an annual supply of lenses with patients while they are in the examination room. Letting patients know that you are “approving” them for an annual supply because of the quality of the lens fit and the stability of their eye health and prescription puts them at ease. They feel confident that it is safe to make such a purchase. When a patient transitions to the staff member who completes the transaction, the staff member is simply following through on your recommendation rather than making a sales pitch.
Benefits for All
As we begin the new year, consider setting a goal of increasing your annual supply sales in 2014. You will be helping your patients and your practice. CLS
Dr. Nixon is a professor of clinical optometry and director of extern programs at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He is also in a group private practice in Westerville, Ohio. He is on the Allergan Academic Advisory Board, the B+L Advisory Board, the Alcon Glaucoma Advisory Board, and the Alcon Speakers Bureau. You can reach him at email@example.com.