5 tips to enhance the patient contact lens experience

February 21, 2018

Keeping patients compliant and happy in their contact lenses can be challenging. Crystal M. Brimer, OD, FAAO, gives five practice pearls to drive contact lens success.

Running a practice can be a daunting task. For that reason, some tips are worth repeating. In the age of online retailers and drugstores selling contact lenses (CLs), the boxes are certainly not as profitable as they once were.

Due to noncompliance, CL wearers can be a source of frustration for a practice. Consider implementing these five practice pearls to ease the hassle and enhance the patient experience.

1. Create CL order form

Certain things may come natural to the OD but not the staff. This inspired me to create a half-page CL order form that addressed the known pitfalls in checklist form.

Previously from Dr. Brimer: How tear osmolarity affects lens wear

First on the checklist is to determine the CL’s modality: daily, biweekly, or monthly disposable. Next to each selection is the number of boxes required to place an order and a space for staff to enter the annual supply price for the specific brand (annual supply price is located on the back of the form along with current rebate amount and rebate expiration).

If a patient wants to buy fewer boxes, there is a space for non-annual supply sales. This requires an actual per box price and a space for shipping costs. The staff member documents that the order has been placed and paid in full. Included is a space to verify when the prescription expires and a reminder to the staff member that the number of CL boxes purchased should not extended beyond prescription expiration.

The staff member also must indicate where the order will be shipped, estimated time of arrival, and initial that the order has been scanned into the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR).

Creating a CL order form takes time, but it limits mistakes and helps your staff present CL pricing with more consistency, confidence, and accuracy. The CL order form also serves as a reminder for staff to quote prices as if the patient is buying an annual supply. We expect patients to buy an annual supply, but if they decline the price per box increases, rebates are lost, and shipping costs are added.

Related: Work with patients to combat contact lens obsolescence

2. Show patients savings

Most CL distributors have calculators to determine the annual supply savings specific to your practice’s pricing. If your representative cannot help you automate this price list, create your own. Prepopulate the savings form and save each document according to the brand. Print the savings out with the receipt or have a preprinted handout for your most popular brands. 

I have found that patients perceive more value from a discount that is in the form of dollars vs. percentages. We use a “$75 off your next pair of glasses” coupon card at our practice. Every patient receives it at check-in, and the discount is activated by purchasing an annual supply of CLs, LipiFlow (Johnson & Johnson Vision), or any frame and lens purchase. The patient then has 30 days to redeem her savings.

 

3. Connect and engage patients

Enroll your patients on your personal purchasing site created by your distributor. Place the link on your website. When patients click on it, they are directed to a page that mimics your homepage design.

The patient’s order is made directly with the distributor. The order is shipped to the patient, and the profit from the sale is credited to your practice. The staff must enroll the patient, enter her prescription, and add discounts to set prices, if applicable.

We love patients coming into the office to buy things. It is one more opportunity for us to connect, engage, and continue building the relationship. When a patient orders from our office and asks us to ship, we ask if she would like her order shipped to her workplace. It is a chance for a patient’s colleague to ask about her order and help grow our practice’s word-of-mouth referrals.

4. Ask your representative for help

Use your resources, and do not hesitate to enlist your reps for help maintaining your CL room when needed.

Ask your distributor for a handheld scanner that allows your staff to reorder trials immediately when pulled from stock. When ready to order, connect the scanner to your computer and transfer the data. For small practices frustrated by trial lens charges or $10 shipping charges, these are often negotiable.

When it comes to organizing your trial room, do not feel like you have to make your room fit manufacturers’ kits. Instead, make their kits fit your room. I transfer single blister packs into a plastic drawer set. You can find these drawer sets at any hardware store and dress them up with a label maker to separate the CL powers. 

Related: Sizing up daily disposable contact lenses

5. Use internal and external marketing

Competition for CL sales can be harsh and challenging. Sometimes you have to pool your resources to win the fight. Use your practice’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to create a buzz around new lens technology or plant the seed on how a patient’s wearing experience could be more comfortable. You may also want to offer $10 off a patient’s annual supply if he likes your Facebook page.

When coming into the office, every one of our CL patients receives at check-in a brochure explaining the different CL fit types and what is included in an exam. The brochure talks about the importance of the yearly CL visit to ensure no complications or compromise to the ocular surface. Doing topography and showing her anterior segment photos furthers this mindset and differentiates your exam.

Finally, the brochure lists all the reasons to buy CLs from us. We know what we provide goes well beyond what is in the CL box. Why not brag about it?

Bottom line

As complicated as they can be, CL patients do affect your bottom line. A successful CL practice is grown by a combination of efficiency, compliance, loyalty, and longevity of CL wear. The longer we can keep patients in their CLs and compliant, the more loyal patients will be.

Read more from Dr. Brimer here