Contact Lenses

Increase Daily Disposables and Benefit Patients & Practice

By Tina McCarty, OD, FAAO

Oct. 21, 2015

SYNOPSIS

Daily disposable lenses benefit your patients and your practice. Here are eight ways to get more patients into this modality.

ACTION POINTS

SET GOALS. Use your EHR to analyze how many CL patients are in daily disposables, then set goals for transitioning others.

EDUCATE PATIENTS ON BENEFITS. Stresseye health and comfort benefits.

USE VENDOR REPS TO EDUCATE STAFF. Utilize reps at staffmeetings on how to present daily disposables.

Daily disposable contact lenses offer patients a clean, fresh pair of contacts every day, and are good for your practice by keeping patients comfortable enough to stay in their lenses long-term. The benefits to your patient’s eyes and vision are clear: a lens that stays clean allows more greater oxygen permeability, and avoids the buildup on the lens that leads to discomfort and possible complications.

With contact lens patients more profitable to a practice over the long-term than glasses-only patients, moving more patients into daily disposables is a win-win, for both patient and practice. The process starts in the exam room with the doctor, who should prescribe daily disposable contact lenses as a first option for most patients, verbalizing to patients the prescription, including why this is the lens of choice for the patient, and also writing it down on an Rx pad to emphasize the point.

For the last quarter century, daily disposable contact lenses–and all of their accompanying benefits of a daily clean lens and excellent comfort–have grown steadily as a percentage of Cls prescribed. For many practices, that percentage has plateaued, as we saw at our practice. In fact, we found that we can continue to grow that trend by applying eight steps that increase awareness, acceptance and patient satisfaction.

There are many reasons that a daily disposable lens can be more profitable:

• Larger profit margins on annual supply purchases.

• Increased ease of use for part-time patients, lessening drop-out rates.

• The part-time patient is more apt to also purchase eyewear that they love, but don’t necessarily have to wear every day, thereby increasing optical revenues.

• Daily disposable patients are usually happier and more loyal because you have put them in the latest technology.

• Happy patients refer, growing your patient base.

An educational graphic from Dr. McCarty’s practice web site. Visitors can click on any of the nine contact lens topic areas to watch an informational video. Dr. McCarty says educating patients about the benefits of daily disposables, and letting them see and feel for themselves with a trial pair, is the key to success.

Assess CL Population & Set Goals for Moving More Into Daily Disposables

Last year our practice saw approximately 4,000 contact lens exams where contact lens professional fees were billed. It gets tricky when you ask how many of those patients are in daily disposable contact lenses due to the way our software collects data.

I can calculate how many units of daily disposable contact lenses were sold in a given time, but I can’t extrapolate from my software how many of those patients were part-time wearers, and, therefore, the number in daily disposable gets skewed. We have seven ODs in our practice, and each of us have a slightly different utilization rate on daily disposables. My best estimate of my personal patient base in single-use contacts is 65 percent of my contact lens wearing population.

Estimate How Successful Daily Disposable Wearers Are in Your Practice

Although I wish there was an easy way to estimate drop-out rate, it seems impossible as a patient could drop-out silently or leave your practice unannounced.

On the other hand, you could look at the positive and track how many contact lens exams or evaluations your practice does in a given period of time, and hopefully, watch the annual number increase. If you are fitting the right mix of contact lenses to meet individual patients’ specific needs, the drop-out rate would remain low, and new fits should increase through positive patient experiences generating referrals. We are fortunate to have seen our number of contact lens patients increase over the years, which I am sure is due to a number of factors, but fitting the latest technology is one of them.

Educate Patients: Price Gap Closing Between Daily Disposables and Other Modalities

The gap on the price difference between a reusable contact lens and a daily disposable contact lens is continuing to decrease. When cost is an issue, I first illustrate what the reusable lens cost is plus solution cost (most patients forget about the care cost). When comparing annual expenses, this gap is narrow. Add in the potential health savings by lessening chance of infection, dry eye, allergy and other complications, and minimizing the chance of needing an office visit or prescription drug or additional artificial tears, the gap continues to narrow. Finally, it is difficult to put a price tag on the beauty of the convenience, health and comfort of having a fresh lens every single day.

Use CL Vendor Reps to Suggest Inventory & Educate Staff

We purchase soft contact lenses from five different vendors. We have a strong daily disposable presence from three of the five, and are looking at a fourth option. Staff education is key. Although we use the vendors to help prepare our staff to be knowledgeable in all contact lenses, we like to educate our staff internally, as well, to provide a well-rounded message.

Give Skeptical Patient Trial Lenses to Take Home

I am not a huge fan of point-of-sale information around the office. Before you know it, there is POS information everywhere from every different kind of vendor imaginable. This becomes information overload and the office gets messy and cluttered. Daily disposable lenses speak for themselves. For me, it happens in the pre-test and in the exam lanes. If a patient decides to trial a single-use lens in office, and take a few home to try, the experience of wearing a daily disposable lens converts the patient. The typical response is a happier patient who wished they had tried them sooner.

Offer Annual Supply Promotional Packages

The simplicity of the annual supply is best for patient and practice. We promote the supply with the usual rebates and incentives from the vendor, and additionally, we offer free direct ship and a plano sunglasses promotion with every annual supply purchase. Again, our software can track units sold, but can’t be directly tied to the patient number, and therefore, it is impossible to track the percentage purchased as annual supplies unless done manually by staff.

Let Patients Know You Take Back Unopened Boxes of CLs

After the fit period is over, and patient has purchased their supply, we expect and anticipate that they will be completely satisfied. If they decide a couple of months in that they do not like the lenses, we will take unopened/unmarked boxes back for store credit toward a future eyewear purchase.

Let Patients Know About How Many Other Patients Love Daily Disposables

I use the social proof of the hundreds of contact lens patients who I have successfully re-fit into a single-use modality in the months and years prior. Once a patient converts to a daily disposable contact lens, they are not likely to return to reusable. The improved success with fewer contact lens-related office visits mid-year, and the level of satisfaction in patients returning happy, is usually enough to make my case that daily disposables are usually the best option.

Tina McCarty, OD, FAAO, is a partner of Eye Care Center in Fridley, Maplewood and Maple Grove, Minn. To contact her: tina.mccarty@eyecarecenters.net

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