Are you “Independent Strong” when it comes to managing eyewear lenses?

 

Managing eyewear lenses is a topic many optometrists stay out of. They’ve provided a prescription to the patient, and their optical staff is more familiar with the various lens options and is handling dispensing and making recommendations on lenses. Besides, patients just want “whatever their insurance covers,” or to take the prescription and head to an online retailer where they believe they can get the same thing cheaper, right?

But why wouldn’t optometrists take advantage of their time in the exam room to educate and prescribe the patient the best in lens technology? There’s so much to gain by doing so, since we know prescription eyewear sales account for a large percentage of a practice’s revenue – 44 percent in a typical practice, based on VisionWatch, industry audits, and MBA surveys.

Further, doctors aren’t recommending contact lenses to patients and sending them off to the optical to select which type. Doctors are prescribing the right contact lens for their patient. Why not do the same with eyewear lenses?

Let’s dive into how to ensure you are Independent Strong in managing your eyewear lenses to have the biggest positive impact on your bottom line . . . and your patients’ lives.

When a patient needs correction, do you recommend lenses or prescribe them?

Patients often think, “My glasses have my doctor’s prescription in them. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter where I buy the glasses because they will still have my doctor’s prescription in them.” This demonstrates that patients think the only thing that matters is the doctor’s prescription, not the type of lens.

Patients often think, “My glasses have my doctor’s prescription in them. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter where I buy the glasses because they will still have my doctor’s prescription in them.” This demonstrates that patients think the only thing that matters is the doctor’s prescription, not the type of lens.

However, what if that prescription included the type of lens? And, what if the doctor spent time ensuring the patient understands the doctor is prescribing a specific lens with features and benefits that will improve everyday life based on your medical knowledge of their lifestyle and vision needs? The patient values your prescription and will seek a specific lens if it is prescribed.

Not only will this lead to increased capture rates and stronger revenue, but it’s more likely to result in a satisfied patient because you can ensure they leave your practice in the right lenses.

A typical doctor-patient consultation following the exam might start something like this:

Doctor: “My examination today showed that you have a condition called presbyopia. That means you are losing the ability to focus up close, and it is going to get worse each year. I’m writing a prescription for you that will address the change in your near vision, and I’m also prescribing that your next eye examination should be in one year. Bob, my optician, will take you out into the optical dispensary to help you pick out your new glasses and then schedule your appointment for next year.”

Doctor: “My examination today showed that you have a condition called presbyopia. That means you are losing the ability to focus up close. This is a natural condition that will continue to progress year after year, so it is more important than ever for you to schedule yearly exams so we can monitor the progression of your presbyopia and ensure you always have the best vision possible. For today, I’m writing a prescription for you that will address the changes occurring in your vision. Since I know that you are moving between near and far tasks very frequently at work, I am going to prescribe a lens designed to allow you to do this very easily without needing to take your glasses on and off as you have been.

To make sure your glasses have everything you need, I’m going to have Bob, my optician, take you into our optical dispensary and oversee every step in the making of your new glasses as well as help you set up your appointment for next year.”

Are all doctors and the entire optical team trained to discuss your preferred lenses including their features and benefits?

As with all products, when it comes to eyewear lenses, it’s important to understand the difference between features and benefits. The easiest explanation is that benefits are the improvements your patients will experience, while features are what make the benefits happen. Previously, standard advice would have been to focus purely on benefits with a patient – after all, it’s likely patients have very limited knowledge of lenses or the technology in them. They simply trust the doctor to give them the right prescription. However, more and more, lens manufacturers are finding that patients are interested in the technology behind lenses – so being able to describe the technology and features of a lens and how that translates into benefits for the patient is key.

We recommend talking with your lens vendor representative to see what brochures, dispensing mats, or other materials they have that clearly articulate the features and benefits of lenses you know you will be prescribing to patients. Having these materials on hand not only helps your staff develop their “elevator pitch” for each lens, but it also helps reinforce purchase intent with patients when they see the benefits clearly outlined in the material.

Does your practice have a hand-off procedure to ensure the optical staff knows and follows the doctor’s specific lens recommendation?

As stated earlier, when doctors prescribe in the exam room, patients get what the doctor prescribes. That’s because when the patient gets to the optical dispensary, they then tend to say something like this: “The doctor told me to get this specific lens, so that’s what I need.”
Now that the doctor is prescribing specific lenses to patients, a new bit of coordination between the doctor and the optical staff may help ensure the patient has the smoothest journey and receives positive, reinforcing messages about the specific lens that is right for them.

This can be achieved with a little teamwork between the doctor and the optician. The doctor and optician can come to an agreement such as, “When we see this, let’s prescribe that. I’ll write the lens type on the prescription, and when I walk the patient out to you to purchase their glasses, you can help reinforce what I’ve told them in the exam room by going over the features and benefits of the lens with them again.”

With coordination between the doctor and the optician, patient outcomes improve. This all starts when the doctor prescribes specific spectacle lenses in the exam room and ends with the hand-off to the optical staff who will ultimately place the patient in the correct lenses.

Are lenses prescribed for every patient’s need?

Eyewear lenses can be prescribed for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to correct refractive error, but that is not all. They can also be used to improve comfort, exude fashion, and provide safety and protection. And every year lens technology gets better, so new lenses for a variety of purposes are always available. The problem is that most people who need eyewear lenses for multiple reasons have settled on just one set of lenses to compensate for their refractive condition alone.

An analogy to shoes is one that is used often because it clearly illustrates the point that everyone needs multiple pairs of eyeglasses, which primarily means different types of lenses for different situations. You don’t wear the same shoes to the beach that you wear to a formal dinner. You don’t wear the same shoes to play golf as you do to go on a hike. Obviously, just like people need more than one pair of shoes, they also need more than one pair of glasses, each with different lenses for different tasks.

What, then, stops people from getting multiple pairs of lenses? Most often, this is due to the way lenses are presented to patients.

In today’s world, the doctor must have a written treatment plan for the patient. (It’s a third party requirement.) Use this treatment plan process to identify the activities and issues your patients face and lead to a discussion about the different pairs of glasses needed to address them all. Here is a suggestion for how that treatment plan could look:

Patient Needs Rx’ed Comments / Solution
Everyday Rx    
Sun Rx    
Workplace Rx    
Sports Rx    
Hobby Rx    
Safety Rx    
Fashion Rx    
Driving Rx    
Blue light Rx    
Contact lenses    
Other    

Here’s an example of how you might begin completing this form as part of your treatment plan, identifying the various lenses needed by the patient:

Patient needs Rx’ed Comments / Solution
Everyday Rx   yes needs new dress Rx, wants light-adaptive lenses
Sun Rx   yes spends a lot of time outdoors, needs Sun Rx 
Workplace Rx   yes screen straight ahead, needs computer Rx 
Sports Rx   yes plays pickleball two times per week, needs sports Rx
Hobby Rx   yes does woodworking in spare time, needs hobby Rx
Safety Rx    
Fashion Rx    
Driving Rx    
Blue light Rx    
Contact lenses    
Other    

Do you utilize lens package pricing?

We make choosing lenses much too difficult for patients. There are simply too many choices. Packaging lens options together for a single price greatly simplifies lens selection. This results in less time spent in the optical and gives the ability to see more patients per day while maintaining high quality patient care. It also results in lower prices for the patient and more sales for the practitioner. The addition of a modest one more patient in the morning and one more patient in the afternoon when you are bringing in an average of $400 per patient equals 50 weeks x 5 days x 2 more patients x $400/patient = $200,000.

To create an effective lens package, combine every add-on you want on the lens then offer it for one price, a price that is less expensive than if the patient ordered each option individually. Create separate lens packages to fit different patient needs and budget ranges. Ask your vendor reps for help creating this system in your office. They may even be able to help you develop a visual aid to easily facilitate conversation with patients around lenses.

We often hear, “We can’t offer lens packages because 80 percent of our patients are on some type of third party vision plan, and the vision plan forces us to fee each part on the claim submission.” Don’t conflate the billing of lenses with the selling of lenses. These are two different functions and can be handled separately.

The part patients see and experience should be seamless and efficient. Handle the billing of lenses behind the scenes away from the patient.

For more information on how to stay Independent Strong download the Special Report here.

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