Blog: How to bring autologous serum to your patients

November 28, 2018

Editor’s note

Editor’s note: The views expressed here belong to the authors and are not paid or sponsored. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

We are a single-doctor practice (with an additional part-time doctor) in the small town of Salisbury, NC. On average, we see about 40 percent medical patients and many dry eye patients.

Read more about dry eye

Obtaining autologous serum can be time-consuming for the patient because it requires frequent trips to a compounding pharmacy, which are usually not on every street corner. 

Furthermore, the process is not cheap. Ordering autologous serum can be tedious for a provider to integrate into a practice, particularly if the OD has not used autologous serum in her current town and does not know anyone who has.

Related: How to address the three aspects of dry eye disease

To do so, you have to spend a lot of time calling around to locate a phlebotomist and compounding pharmacy with a sterile hood. Once you have located the pharmacy and obtained the details, you must call the patient. Multiple calls will likely take place between you and the patient.

For us, the nearest compounding pharmacy is about an hour away and required our patient to trek out there every 45 days for a fresh blood draw, wait a bit around town, and then take the tears home on ice.

The compounding pharmacy it was unable to make more than a 45-day supply at a time. Obviously obtaining the tears is inconvenient.

Regarding cost, a 45-day supply through the compounding pharmacy was $178 plus $35 for the blood draw, totaling $213 every 45 days. The cost and process of acquiring the tears regularly can lead to compliance challenges.

However, a new way to purchase autologous serum tears is available.

Contact Vital Tears
This company offers streamlined ordering for autologous serum by omitting the process of locating the phlebotomist and compounding pharmacy, as well as reduces the number of blood draws a patient has to undergo to obtain the tears.

Time is saved for both the patient and the practitioner, which should increase compliance.

Also by Dr. Denton: 4 technologies that improve patient interactions

Contact Vital Tears by the company’s website or by phone, and the company will send a representative to your office. 

The rep will sit down with an office staff member and set up the account within an hour or two. To order autologous serum, simply access your online account and place the order for the patient.

Provide details of the process to patients
The patient has blood drawn at a partnered lab. You are able to choose from a variety of labs. For us, there were three partnered labs within one hour of our practice. 

The lab will complete the blood draw and overnight the blood to Kansas City, MO, for compounding. Then the tears are sent overnight to the patient’s home. 

Pricing
The price to the patient of the autologous serum was less when using Vital Tears when compared to our previous option. A patient who needs autologous serum only needs to have two blood draws a year, all while having access to the tears.

Pricing is:

•$360 for a two- to three-month supply
•$660 for a six-month supply

The patient has the option to make monthly $120 payments for the six-month supply as a more affordable and convenient plan.

Read more by Dr. Denton

A six-month supply comes out to about $180 every 45 days and does not require regular trips to a lab. Recall that the compounding pharmacy cost $213 every 45 days.

Place your patient’s order
Log into your account and fill out the order form for each patient. When ordering, you are able to specify 20, 30 or 40 percent serum.

Next, print the order form and hand it (or mail it) to the patient. You could also complete the form in-office while the patient is present.

Wrapping up
Autologous serum is an appropriate therapy for dry eye patients who do not experience sufficient relief with more common treatments.

However, in the past, adding autologous serum to your clinic has proved to be challenging. Also, continuing treatment with autologous serum can be time consuming for the patient and causes challenges with compliance. 

In our experience, we have found that Vital Tears makes autologous serum affordable and easily accessible for the patient, and simple to integrate into our clinic. 

We have not been paid by or sponsored by Vital Tears.