By David Bloch, OD
Sept. 14, 2016
Reading disabilities are increasingly recognized, especially among children. A new practice-building program lets you help those whose reading disabilities once held them back to succeed in learning and life.
GET TRAINED & STARTED. Doctors pay to get trained on Reading Without Limits program and pay licensing fees. The training for this program is 10-12 hours of education and costs $3,500 (or about the income they will generate from one patient).
GAUGE NEEDED CHAIR TIME. Each patient’s treatment plan is customized, but treatment time for the average patient is 18 sessions. This is usually scheduled 2x/week for six weeks and then 1x/week for the following six weeks.
PROJECT PROFITABILITY. Evaluate 1-2 reading patients a week. Each reading evaluation (the four phases) generates $500 per patient. About half of them sign up for the program, which brings in an additional $3,600 for equipment and the sessions.
Reading disabilities are increasingly recognized as factors in early development and long-term success in life. ECPs can position themselves as providers of solutions and members of a success team for many patients, especially young patients.
A new program I have founded helps young people with a reading disability succeed, while creating a practice-building opportunity for ODs.
This is a great opportunity for an eyecare provider to co-manage the vision-related side of reading disabilities, as an adjunct to the reading instruction and exercises offered by the child’s school. As with any new service, it is best to check with your state optometric board before beginning to offer it to patients.
Click HERE, or the image above, to watch Dr. Bloch explain how his Reading Without Limits program works. Dr. Bloch says optometrists have a great opportunity to co-manage the reading progress of young people with educators, offering help to the vision-related dimension of learning reading.
Recognize the Need & Opportunity
Parents are looking for resources to help their children overcome reading disabilities, and traditional reading methods often don’t work.
My Reading Without Limits program merges knowledge from the fields of education and optometry to allow for effective treatment of many reading disorders, including dyslexia.
The revenue potential will vary depending on the demographic of each city where the doctor is located. But keep in mind there are more people with reading problems than have eye disease. This market is wide open and ready for optometry to be the leader. Adding one patient a week to a doctor’s practice would lead to a $175,000, or more, increase in a year. Even if they did testing only and no treatment it adds $26,000/year (all doctors don’t have to treat).
In my own practice, there have been 31 patients with reading difficulties who have been tested for this program since Jan. 1, 2016 to Sept. 1, 2016. Not all of them have signed up. Sign-ups tend to increase after school starts in the fall.
I formally started advertising under the Reading Without Limits name in 2008. I have tested in excess of 500 students with reading problems and have acquired their family members as patients, as well. If I include their parents only, that adds another 1,000 new patients.
How It Works
The Reading Without Limits program is a testing and treatment protocol for anyone behind in their reading skills. The majority of my patients in this program are 5-10 years of age (first through fifth graders).
However, the program can be considered for anyone who has not significantly improved in their reading skills using a traditional reading program within a six-month period. These individuals are the ones who are most likely to have a vision or vision processing problem.
The testing portion of the program has a four-phase evaluation to isolate which visual, auditory and cognitive deficits are impeding reading improvement. Phase 1 is a modified eye exam that screens for reading-related problems. Phase 2 evaluates eye tracking ability with the aid of a computer. Phase 3 evaluates word recognition skills and the strategies the reader uses to identify words. Phase 4 evaluates how the visual system performs under a load of stimuli to determine what kind of strength, flexibility and stamina it has to maintain the task of reading over a prolonged period.
The treatment phase uses a process called Visual Cross Training, which is a combination of streamlined vision therapy and newly developed reading drills. Through a series of different drills, poor readers are trained to track and identify words quickly and accurately. Many readers completing this program achieve a 100-200 point increase in their reading scores in as little as three months–a feat which rarely occurs in a year using traditional reading programs.
The Reading Without Limits program teaches a strategy that allows the reader to identify both simple and complex words by visual pattern recognition. In fact, nearly all the drills related to word recognition are conducted without the aid of verbal cues. By re-programing (training) the patients on how to look at key patterns in the words, they can immediately begin to read words they couldn’t read seconds before. ?
Dr. David Bloch | Adult & Pediatric Optometry
Practice History: Started an independent practice cold in Carlsbad, CA in 2001
Support Staff: 3 full-time, 1 part-time
Comprehensive Exams: 2,700
Gross Sales: $600,000
Reading Without Limits accounts for $150,000, or 25 percent of revenues
Gauge Needed Patient Visits & Chair Time
Each patient’s treatment plan is customized, but treatment time for the average patient is 18 sessions. This is usually scheduled 2x/week for six weeks and then 1x/week for the following six weeks.
Patients are shown how to do drills in the office along with a discussion of goals and expectations. Then patients are asked to practice the drills for 10-15 minutes per day. Therapy sessions last 45 minutes with something new introduced or changed based on the patient’s progress.
All patients receive equipment to take home including a Reading Without Limits DVD that has time-driven drills on it. Exercises are designed to quickly improve saccadic ability, accommodative amplitude/facility, vergence range/facility and instant word recognition.
Project Potential Profitability of Program
I evaluate 1-2 reading patients a week.? Each reading evaluation (the four phases) generates $500 per patient. About half of them sign up for the program, which brings in an additional $3,600 for equipment and the sessions. These charges are in addition to any eyewear or contact lenses that may be needed. Averaging in discounts for upfront payments and insurance adjustments, the Reading Without Limits program generates around $150,000 annually.
Most optometrists will already have the majority of needed examination equipment in their offices. The special equipment required to run the program will cost the doctor under $7,500. Each DVD that is dispensed to every patient currently wholesales for $150 and is sold to the patient for $250. The other equipment includes lens and prism flippers which are rented out to the patients for a flat fee. The patient gets to keep two flippers for maintenance therapy at the end of the program. Those two flippers wholesale for about $100, but the rental generates another $300-$400 profit.
Most doctors will break even after they have seen only two reading patients. One of my previously certified doctors made $15,000 her first week by pre-advertising the program in her office before she was trained.
Become Certified in Program
Doctors can become certified Reading Without Limits providers by paying both training and licensing fees, as this program is trademarked. The training for this program has 10-12 hours of education and costs $3,500 (or about the income earned from one reading patient).
The support staff will need to be trained on how reading problems are related to vision problems. They should become familiar with the symptom checklist and the four phases of the evaluation. They do not need to know the treatment regimen unless they are going to be a therapist. Therapists can attend the training seminars, but they cannot sign up for a licensing agreement to use the program. This program is exclusive to private practice optometrists.
Market Services for Patients with Reading Disabilities
I strongly recommend that doctors pre-advertise the program in their office so they can experience the demand before they make a commitment to learn the whole program. For any doctors interested, I will send them a free counter card which offers the program and says “Coming Soon.” Then the doctors can start taking names down and call prospective patients back after they are certified Reading Without Limits doctors.
I market this program on my web site and with signage in my office. I ask the parents of all my pediatric patients if their child is behind in their reading skills. We have a special symptoms sheet for reading problems which the parent fills out. When patients call for an appointment, my staff will ask if they are booking for an eye exam or reading evaluation. My windows have the Reading Without Limits logo as do my business cards. In addition, my “on hold” phone message has information about the reading program as well. I have YouTube videos about the program, I have done public speaking, and have been on the local news promoting Reading Without Limits.
Here is simple verbiage I use with parents to get the process started: Is your child behind in their reading skills? (If they reply YES): “We have special testing for tracking and reading performance–Did you know that up to 95 percent of students with learning disabilities have tracking difficulty? Would you like to look as the questionnaire?” Three or more check marks on the symptom list often sparks actions from the parent.
The marketing for this program to my patients has been fairly easy. The signage, business cards and web site changes were under $500. Asking the parents the right questions only takes minutes. Using a few key phrases gets them in for the additional tests. Once the parents see the testing, and understand the process, they become believers in the methodology. Parents are more interested in this program than they are in standard vision therapy. Parents are not necessarily motivated to sign up for vision therapy, especially when they know their child can see clearly and has straight eye alignment. But they are extremely motivated to enroll their child in the Reading Without Limits program because they know good reading skills are the foundation for academic excellence.
Doctors committed to this program have the unique opportunity to do the same for their practice. For more information about becoming a provider, visit the Doctor’s Connection Page on the ReadingWithoutLiimits.com.