The Business of Contact Lenses
Evolution or Revolution: Which Is Better for Your Practice?
BY GARY GERBER, OD
You attend a Saturday seminar on “How to fit scleral lenses.” (The topic could be anything—for our example, let’s use scleral lenses.) You attentively listen, take copious notes, and draw detailed diagrams. Your Monday morning drive to your office has you enthused and energized to fit your first patient.
And Then Reality Happens
Upon entering your private back office, you see your computer monitor covered with sticky notes. Your technician writes, “I can’t work this Thursday night, I have an organic chemistry exam.” Your optician says, “Mr. Engineer called three times. He still thinks the axis on his left lens should be 26º instead of 27º.” Your office manager adds to the pile with, “The part we’re waiting for to fix the exam chair in room 2 is still on back order.”
Your first patient is a glaucoma follow-up pressure check. Your next one is a new presbyope who thinks that her vision care plan should cover anything she wants, including the keys to your car.
Scleral lenses? What scleral lenses? With each sticky note crisis and clinically non-applicable patient, your plans for instituting the new lenses fade further away.
At the end of the month, if you’re very fortunate, you’ll have stumbled through one fit and felt frustrated that it wasn’t like what you were taught a few weeks ago.
In this common scenario, you’re evolving this new segment of your practice. At this rate, if you’re like most practitioners, a year from now you’ll have a handful of patients in scleral lenses, and your confidence and enthusiasm will be tepid at best. You’re evolving from a practice doing no scleral lenses to a practice that is dipping its toe in the water and just trying them; then maybe, just maybe, you’ll go in waist deep.
Is there anything you could have done differently to keep the seminar fire lit longer?
Plan for a Revolution
Before you go to the meeting, assume that you will come back educated and energized. Then, plan for a scleral lens revolution!
1. Have patients ready the day you come back. Let’s assume that you signed up for the meeting two months before it happens. During the wait time, every time you see patients whom you think may be candidates, schedule them for an evaluation the Monday after the meeting, and you’ll come back to a practice full of prospective patients. Of course, this might mean that you need to do a bit of pre-meeting education to determine exactly who would qualify. Short of that, let possible prospective patients know that you’ll be calling them. Then, set aside time that Monday morning to call those patients—not to put out fires.
2. Spread the word. As part of your planning with the patients above, plan to have something delivered (email or snail mail) for those you don’t reach by phone that discusses why you believe they’d benefit from the lenses. Have that ready to go Monday morning so that by Monday afternoon, it’s in the mail.
3. Let your staff know that you’re attending the seminar. You might be surprised how helpful your staff can be once they know you’re bringing a new service into the practice. In addition to something new for them, they can usually help identify some patients who might benefit from the lenses.
4. Have some external marketing materials for new patients ready to go. Plan to modify and edit them with what you learn from your first few current patient fits.
5. Set goals of how many patients you’d like to fit by a certain date. Then, keep a scoreboard of your progress. CLS
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice, a company offering proven and comprehensive practice and profit building systems. You can reach him at www.PowerPractice.com and follow him on Twitter @PowerYourDream.