Contact Lens Practice Pearls
Provide No-Risk Refit Options for Your Patients
BY GREGORY J. NIXON, OD, FAAO
In my January 2015 column, I detailed refitting a happy patient into a newer lens design that provided him with better quality vision than he thought he could ever achieve with a multifocal lens. Experiences like this resulted in our practice restructuring our refitting fees to provide more opportunities for patients to take advantage of new contact lenses.
We all have contact lens exams in which patients don’t elicit any complaints about the fit, comfort, or vision of their lenses. While this may be the result of well-performing lenses, it’s likely that their wearing experience could still be improved. There is an opportunity for patients to benefit from new advancements in technology that might provide more comfortable wear time, less dryness, clearer vision, or a less complicated care regimen or replacement cycle.
Our Contact Lens Technology Upgrade Program
While we have educated our patients on the benefits of newer products in previous years, they often have balked at the idea of even trying a new lens due to the refitting fees associated with the chair time costs of follow-up visits. To target this audience of “presumed happy” patients, we established a special contact lens technology upgrade program. To be eligible for this program, a patient has to currently be a healthy, successful lens wearer.
While both the practitioner and patient would approve of reordering a new supply of the same lens brand, patients would be given trials of a newer lens product at the time of their exam (e.g., a different two-week or monthly replacement lens with an upgraded material, a lens with aspheric optics to reduce nighttime glare, or a daily disposable).
The key is that they have trial lenses in their prescription evaluated on their eyes at the time of their exam with no additional fees applied. If the patients like the initial fit and feel of the lenses, they are dispensed trials for at-home use and scheduled for a follow-up appointment. A fee is applied only if they return for the follow-up visit with the new lens.
The only reason to return for this follow-up visit is because they like the new lenses—enough to have them evaluated to ensure an adequate ocular health response and fit and to order them—so patients arrive with the full intention of having to pay for the visit as well as for the lenses.
On the other hand, if after the at-home trial a patient prefers to stay in his original lenses, he would simply call the office to cancel the follow-up appointment and order a year’s supply of the original lenses.
Removing Risk and Barriers
Our contact lens policy still includes prepaid refitting fees for patients requiring a refit due to a poor existing fit, ocular health complications with their current lenses, or changes in their prescription (such as switching from a sphere to a toric or multifocal).
But for the “presumed happy” well-fit patients, removing the cost barrier of a prepaid refit fee to try a new contact lens product has allowed many more of our patients to enjoy the enhanced fit and comfort from recent advancements in contact lens technology. CLS
Dr. Nixon is the assistant dean for Clinical Services and professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He is also in a group private practice in Westerville, Ohio. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.