These 8 pearls will help improve your patient care, practice management, and more.
Although optometrists do many things well, contact lenses are an area in which we especially thrive. Contact lenses are tools to enhance a patient’s vision, an opportunity for us to differentiate our profession, and a way to financially grow our practices. There are ample benefits to elevating a contact lens practice and taking it to the next level. Doing so often brings enhanced patient care, financial growth, and an ability to optically problem solve.
Here are 8 ways of elevating your contact lens practice.
1. Use key performance indicators
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a quantifiable way of measuring performance over a specific period. Tracking KPIs is a terrific way to get a health check on a business, establish goals, or analyze growth. There are hundreds of KPI options, and they can focus on either the patient care or the financial aspects of a practice.
Examples of contact lens KPIs include revenue per contact lens fitting, conversion to a daily disposal contact lens, number of annual supplies sold, number of new contact lens trainings or fits, percentage of write-offs, or number of multifocal vs toric vs spherical fits.
Practices will have different KPI needs, but the first step is to identify which ones are important and then create a tracking system. Tracking can be as simple as pulling reports from electronic health record software and plugging them into an Excel spreadsheet. KPIs can be analyzed monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Analyzation will identify areas of deficiency or excellence and then create a foundation for establishing growth or improvement goals.
2. Never stop learning
Contact lenses are constantly undergoing research and development in hopes of creating new products, materials, modalities, and technology. This means optometrists need to remain educated on the latest advancements. This learning can happen through continuing education classes, reading industry publications, listening to podcasts, watching webinars, attending hands-on workshops, or participating in peer-to-peer discussions.
Although doctor education is vital, ensuring that staffers are educated and trained on the latest contact lens advancements is equally important. Investing in staff training improves patient care, overall patient experience, and practice success. Staff training can be one-on-one or can take place at office meetings, company boot camps, or industry/vendor meetings.
Many industry representatives are available to help train staff on new products, or are selling annual supplies of contact lenses. With staff training, repetition is key so do not be afraid to embrace certain product or contact lens service training multiple times a year. Let “never stop learning” be your contact lens motto.
A fantastic way of differentiating your contact lens practice—or creating a niche—is to specialize. Contact lenses are considered a specialty but this could also be taken a step further. This could be a general specialization in toric or multifocal contact lenses, but it could also mean specializing in scleral, hybrid, or rigid gas permeable lenses. Other specialization opportunities include sports vision, hobby, or cosmetic/aesthetic contact lenses, in addition to using contact lenses for myopia control management.
Specializing allows a practice to carve out a niche in a community and truly share expertise with patients in need. From a business standpoint, specialization often leads economies of scale. Economies of scale is a business concept best described as becoming efficient through a cost advantage achieved with production. Specialization creates advantages for patient care and business aspects of a contact lens practice.
4. Embrace innovation
Similar to continuous learning, embracing innovation can help elevate a contact lens practice. New products and contact lens technologies are always hitting the market; it is imperative to incorporate these into your repertoire. Although it is easy to stay in the clinical comfort zone, new contact lenses often bring solutions for patients. Strive for “great” feedback rather than settling for “my contact lenses are fine.”
Embracing innovation could include utilizing new technological tools such as contact lens online ordering platforms, corneal topography and mapping software, and new modalities that use contact lenses.
Change is the only constant; embracing it fosters growth. This best positions your practice to meet challenges of change and adaptability to an evolving marketplace. Being a practice that embraces innovation will enhance your reputation, give a competitive advantage, and save time and money.
Contact lenses are so common in optometry that we often forget to advertise. The public might not realize that optometry offices offer contact lens services; the best way to ensure they do is through advertising or marketing. This can happen through traditional means such as paid newspaper, radio, or television ads. However, a modern approach to advertising also includes social media, a digital presence, and utilizing search engine optimization.
The beauty of social media is that it is a platform with little to no cost that allows a practice to connect with community and patients, showcases expertise, and spreads awareness about contact lens services. It also creates avenues for gathering information on follower demographics and ways of connecting with individuals outside the current patient population base.
Advertising also takes place in the examination room by informing patients that they are contact lens candidates and offering this vision correction option. Advertising contact lens services is an effective way of elevating a contact lens practice.
6. Bill and code properly
Knowing how to properly bill and code contact lens services is advantageous to patient and practice. The first step is to understand what each insurance plan allows for contact lenses. These allowances often vary per type of contact lens. Some contact lens prescriptions may qualify as medically necessary.
There is no universal definition of “medically necessary,” and coverage ranges from soft to hard contact lenses. Often the stipulations are related to the numerical value of a prescription or an ocular medical condition. Medically necessary contact lenses often have contact lens service allowance through a medical (not just vision) insurance plan.
Learning how to best utilize billing and coding procedures will ensure the patient has maximized the contact lens allowance and bring financial success to your practice.
7. Communicate value to patients
Another way of elevating a contact lens practice is to focus on communicating value to the patient. Value is not always associated with a dollar amount. Communicating value could be as simple as educating a patient on how to potentially use contact lenses in everyday life or to solve a certain visual demand related to a hobby or favorite pastime.
Highlighting the benefits and advantages of certain lens materials or modalities (ie, UV blocking, water content, ease of use, environmental impact) could also explain how valuable certain contact lenses can be. Communicating value could also involve staff taking the time to thoroughly explain rebates, bundled discounts, or free shipping costs.
8. Evaluate current processes and systems
A final way of elevating your contact lens practice is to assess your current office contact lens flow. Identifying areas of deficiency or excellence allows you to see growth or opportunities for it. This could be the overall flow of how a contact lens training or fitting is booked, the ease with which a patient purchases contact lenses, or the way in which patients can inquire about contact lenses.
Every patient touchpoint in the office has the potential to influence current contact lens protocol and analysis of it is a terrific way of elevating a contact lens practice.