Fitting cls can boost your practice profitability if you justify the increased fees to patients.
We optometrists often give away our services without realizing it. A good example is the fees we charge for contact lenses. We feel comfortable with fitting contact lenses, and most of us believe it’s relatively easy, so we don’t always charge for our assistance. The challenge is how do we convince patients to pay more for our contact lens services?
The key to charging appropriate fees is making patients feel it’s worth paying for the services. This could be a visceral rather than logical conclusion on the part of patients. In either case, patients must value what we have to offer. Generally, when patients see an optometrist, patients “believe” they: trust the doctor will not allow them to lose their vision; will perform better at work and sports; and will have a better self-image. Peace of mind, better performance, and improved self image are worth a lot to patients. These valuable “beliefs” that patients buy come from you orchestrating the visit. Here’s how:
1. Demonstrate expertise and credibility by providing a biographical sketch of you and your staff’s qualifications and practice beliefs. Post patient testimonials on your Web site and in your office along with photos of patients well-known in the community. Hang up plaques, awards, and certifications.
2. Have a technician talk up your expertise and success as a contact lens practitioner.
3. Explain the complexity of an evaluation (see “The CL Evaluation,” below). Patients will appreciate that expertise and expensive instrumentation is necessary to provide proper services.
4. Educate patients on the possible lenses available and why you have chosen a particular brand for them. Patients are often unaware that many choices exist.
5. Convey a caring attitude by giving patients your cell phone number or your technician’s. Encourage them to call if they have any questions.
6. Call patients the next morning to see how they’re doing. Few doctors or technicians do this.
Set yourself apart by doing what other optometrists won’t do or don’t do. This increases the value of your offerings to patients, allowing you to charge more for contact lens services.
|THE CL EVALUATION Below is a list of some additional services doctors may include during the contact lens examination. The actual procedures vary depending on the type of lens, complexity of problem solving required, and patient characteristics.
• Review contact lens history and concerns
• Distance visual acuity with contact lenses
• Retinoscopy/autorefraction over contact lenses
• Subjective refraction over contact lenses
• Visual acuity with over-refraction at distance and near
• Biomicroscopic examination with contact lenses
• Lid evaluation/lid eversion
• Corneal topography
• Tear film evaluation
• Keratometry readings
• Biomicoscopy without contact lenses
• Fluorescein examination with/without contact lenses
• Diagnostic contact lens fitting
• Ordering contact lenses
• Review proper handling of lenses
• Provide sample lens solutions
Vanessa Shaw-McMinn is in practice at the Woodcrest Vision Center in Riverside, CA, and lectures on practice management. Peter G. Shaw-McMinn is senior partner of Sun City Vision Center located in California and writes and lectures on practice management topics.