By Maria Sampalis, OD
March 8, 2017
My independent practice, which rents space inside a Sears in Warwick, R.I., takes pride in providing a high level of medical eyecare. It’s what our patients need for the best comprehensive care, and it’s what our practice needs to grow and financially prosper.
An important part of delivering advanced medical eyecare is having the right technology in your office. For us, that means a retinal camera, which allows us to offer expanded medical eyecare, and to grow the practice and revenues by being able to diagnose, screen and monitor more patients in-house.
Acquire a Retinal Camera
When I first took over the lease for my office space four years ago, I also signed a lease for a retinal camera. It was $20,000, with a payment of $450 per month, which I paid off in three-and-a-half years.
The reimbursement for use of the camera is $90, so all I needed was five patients per month to pay the $450 monthly payment. I could have paid off the lease earlier than the three-and-a-half years I took to do so, but I wanted to keep money free for other practice investments.
The potential for generating revenues from use of the retinal camera is substantial. If you have at least 10 patients per week screened using the retinal camera, and you are open 50 weeks per year, you will generate $45,000-$50,000 annually. In my own practice, I estimate that we generate $50,000-$60,000 annually from use of the retinal camera.
Use for Baseline Screening
I use my retinal camera as a baseline screening tool for all patients, who agree to pay a $25 out-of-pocket fee. If we find an abnormality on the retina, such as diabetic retinopathy, or glaucoma, use of the camera is also billable to insurance.
About 40 percent of our patients decide to have the retinal camera photos taken. We require them to sign a waiver acknowledging an agreement to pay the out-of-pocket fee for use of the instrument, which we explain to them is important to help the doctor provide the most thorough exam.
Editor’s Note: This waiver must follow the ABN protocol. You must use the approved ABN language. Make sure you are using the most current ABN.
I am careful to let patients know that the retinal camera is not a substitution for dilation, but a complement that enables me to provide an even more effective exam.
I show patients pictures in the exam room of evidence that that their eyes are healthy, explaining what I look for in the screening, and for patients with eye disease, I am able to show what their condition is doing to their eyes, or the impact of the treatment program I prescribed.
Make Exam Process More Accurate & Efficient
Use of a retinal camera, along with dilation, gives you the ability to determine a diagnosis faster and more precisely. For example, if you already have photography from a retinal camera, and you’re doing refraction, you already know the reason the person may not be seeing 20/20 is because of macular swelling and edema. This insight in advance of the refraction allows me to get the patient faster to the best refraction, and to offer them the best course of action for their eye health.
Let Patients Know of Your Medical Eyecare
In addition to the enhanced medical eyecare a retinal camera enables you to provide, and the profitability it offers, having one also sends the message that your practice is on the cutting edge. I have information and photos on my practice web site about the advanced care we offer. Patients know that, along with glasses and contact lenses, we offer the highest level of medical eyecare.
Maria Sampalis OD, practices at Sampalis Eye Care in Warwick RI. She is also the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook. Dr. Sampalis is also founder of the new job site corporateoptometrycareers.com and www.corporateoptometry.com. She is available for practice management consulting. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org