It’s no secret that insurance reimbursement for GP and specialty lenses and fittings has decreased dramatically in the last few years. Combine that with confusing and ever-changing rules that vary from one insurance company to another, and with rising costs in new GP designs and materials, and it becomes very difficult for practices to maintain profitability while fitting GP lenses. We must be well versed in billing and coding, and we also must have appropriate and adequate fee schedules for fitting, visits, and materials that are reviewed regularly.
But even once all of this is in place, profits can still plummet if the everyday details and procedures of ordering, shipping, remakes, and supplies are left unattended.
Review pricing from vendors that supply fluorescein, topical anesthetic, lens application/removal devices, in-office GP lens cleaners, solution starter kits, and also the solutions and saline used during the fitting process. Keep shipping costs in mind when comparing vendor prices. Some items, especially saline and some solutions, can be obtained locally and even on sale, without any shipping costs.
GP Laboratory Policies
When choosing among GP laboratories, consider their policies when it comes to lens returns, exchanges, and warranties. While some practitioners choose a GP laboratory based on lens design familiarity or excellent consultative advice, priority should also be given to the financial aspects of lens ordering and exchange. Most new GP lens designs are fairly intuitive, come with excellent fitting guides, and are easy to learn to fit. It may be beneficial to use a lab that doesn’t have an additional charge for each lens remake during the warranty period, for example.
Monitor GP laboratory invoices for missed returns or unnecessary shipping costs due to staff oversight. While most practitioners do not have time to check every invoice, the occasional “audit” will keep staff from becoming complacent about tracking lenses and organizing orders. Have staff keep a calendar or spreadsheet of important dates for patients being actively fit that includes dispense dates and warranty deadlines. Make staff aware of costs incurred for lenses not returned or for remakes ordered too late.
Patients are notoriously bad at remembering when their warranty periods are expired, and they are also reluctant to accept financial responsibility for missed lens return/remake deadlines. In their minds, it is the practice’s responsibility to send them reminders when important deadlines approach. Texting or emailing is a great way to remind patients without taking up too much staff time. If possible, set aside a specific time and delegate this task to a specific staff member each week.
Try to combine multiple returns and orders when possible to reduce shipping costs. Consider charging patients separate shipping fees for reorders and/or lost or broken lens replacements. Watch for changes in shipping costs among supply vendors. And, if item costs are similar, order all supplies from the same vendor to bulk ship.
Every Little Bit Counts
Protecting your GP lens profits from shipping, vendor, and laboratory charges is just as important as charging and billing GP lens materials and fittings appropriately. It is also just as important to regularly review office policies and practices regarding contact lens supplies, lab policies, and shipments as it is to evaluate fitting fee structures and billing/coding success. CLS