Patient Experience

5 Actions to Attract a Population of Patients with $1.9 Trillion of Buying Power

By Diana Canto-Sims, OD

Nov. 17, 2021

If you’re like me, you came to this industry to give the world sight. Some cultures are not getting the quality eyecare they deserve, sometimes due to lack of access to healthcare, and sometimes due to language barriers.1

Hispanics are one of those groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hispanics and Latinos have a higher risk of vision loss2:

● Hispanics and Latinos are almost 2.5 times more likely to have diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites.
● 68 percent of Hispanics and Latinos have poorly controlled high blood pressure, compared to 54 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

The Hispanic or Latino population grew from 50.5 million (16.3 percent of the U.S. population) in 2010 to 62.1 million (18.7 percent) in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.3 Between 2010 and 2020, the Hispanic or Latino population grew by 23 percent. Slightly more than half (51.1 percent) of the total U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2020 came from growth in the Hispanic or Latino population.

Hispanic buying power has grown substantially over the last 30 years, from $213 billion in 1990 to $1.9 trillion in 2020. Hispanic buying power accounted for 11.1 percent of U.S. buying power in 2020.4

Here are five actions to take to bring more Hispanic patients into your practice.

Participate in Health Fairs & Vision Screenings in Heavily Hispanic Neighborhoods
Contact your nearest Hispanic Community Center or a YMCA located in a heavily Hispanic area. You can offer to collaborate with these organizations on a health fair or vision screening. This will provide a valuable service for people, while introducing your practice to the Hispanic community.

If you are not sure which local organizations would be best to reach out to for collaboration on health fairs and vision screenings, contact your  city’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It can provide you with resources, tools and data to help you find the Hispanic areas of your city that are most in need of help. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce doesn’t just support local Hispanic businesses. Its goals are to connect and collaborate with local businesses to help the local Hispanic community. You will be provided with the contact information of key people to reach out to in nearby Hispanic neighborhoods.

Participating in health fairs and public vision screenings shouldn’t be too time consuming. Health fairs are usually on weekends from around 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Add one hour for setting up and taking down your booth, and the event should require no more than five hours.

Cost: If you reach out to a community center and offer free vision screening for a health fair, the cost of a table or booth is usually waived. Otherwise, this cost ranges from $50-$300.

Other costs to consider would be the staff needed to be at the health fair, and if you will be using any equipment or supplies from the office that will limit you from seeing patients in the practice that day. Some practices distribute branded giveaways like pens, pencils, key chains or other knickknacks. We have found that providing free vision screenings creates a line at our booth, and giveaways are unnecessary.

 ROI: After my practice participates in a health fair, over half a dozen people typically call us, make an appointment for an eye exam, and become new patients. Our average revenue per patient is $300. If we add seven new patients from participation in a health fair, we have generated $2,100, or more, in revenues.

Launch or Grow Your Digital Marketing
Hispanics generally love word-of-mouth recommendations, and trust doctors referred to them by friends and family. They also usually love doing everything as a family.

If you’re looking for a phenomenal ROI for your marketing dollars, look into digital marketing to Hispanics, who frequently call and make an appointment for the entire family.

Cost: In our practice, we reverse-engineered our Google Ads data, looked up the phone numbers on our practice management software and saw that one call that was over eight minutes was from a Hispanic family that scheduled five family members and generated over $3,000 in sales. Our pay-per-click averages $4, so this ROI was fantastic.

ROI: Our digital Google Ads marketing budget for “phone calls” targeted to Hispanics is $2/day or around $60 a month. This budget results in an average of  1,000 impressions, 81 clicks and approximately 50 phone calls to the practice. We reverse-engineered every phone call and ran a report to see how much revenue was generated from these calls. The ROI of our digital marketing with Google Ads equals an average of $10,000 per month.

Effective Google AdWords to use to target the Hispanic population include: “Examen Visual,” “Optometra,” “doctor de ojos,” “lentes,” “espejuelos,” “pupilentes,” “lentes de contacto,” “examen visual,” and “examen de los ojos.”

Educate the Hispanic Community About UV Protection & Preventing Sports-Related Eye Injuries
Many Hispanics are unaware of the damage harmful UV light causes to their eyes, including contributing to cataracts, skin cancer around their eyes, pinguecula, pterygium and macular degeneration.

Cataracts and AMD are the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in Hispanics. This is a problem in the Hispanic community because they usually do not think it is important to protect their eyes from harmful UV. As their eyecare professionals, it is crucial that we educate them about the importance of UV protection.

Reach out to your local sports teams. Hispanics love playing sports. Introduce yourself as their local, friendly optometrist by speaking at their “season inauguration meeting,” or preseason parent meeting. You can set up a table showcasing the protective sports eyewear you offer and distribute information about the importance of eyewear protection when playing sports.

If you are able to, speak to the athletes for five minutes about the importance of preventing eye injuries by wearing protective sports eyewear and protecting their eyes from harmful UV when outdoors.

Cost: The cost doing these things is no more than 30 minutes to one hour spent at the preseason parent meeting. To increase the chances you’ll be remembered, raffle a pair of sports glasses for one of the team players. We found this to be an effective strategy because then the team player shows up to their first game wearing protective, prescription eyewear, reinforcing your five-minute talk about the importance of sports eyewear.

The rest of the team then often makes an appointment or purchases plano, protective sports sunglasses. If you have a great relationship with your sports eyewear representative, you can ask to have the frame comped and call your local lab to donate the lenses for this great cause.

ROI: Sports eyewear added 13 percent more revenue this year compared to years when we did not promote it. Our sports eyewear patients have referred multiple patients to us–starting with their own team members.

Educate on Protecting Eyes from Job-Related Injuries
Many Hispanics work in jobs like carpentry, roofing or manufacturing. It is extremely important that you educate them on the importance of wearing safety eyewear at work.

Reach out to your local construction and manufacturing companies to offer your services to the person responsible for enforcing OSHA regulations. This person in charge of enforcing OSHA will appreciate you helping them keep their workers compliant by offering safety eyewear.

Cost: It will take you no more than 30 minutes to one hour to call, or as long as it takes to put together an e-mail, to contact the person at each company who is tasked with enforcing OSHA regulations.

ROI: Last year we implemented this strategy, and our safety eyewear revenue doubled in 2020. As of  October 2021, our safety eyewear revenue has quadrupled. We also gained many new patients through word-of-mouth referrals from people who saw their co-workers wearing safety eyewear purchased from our practice.

We have a gentleman who comes in every few months to get our business cards to refer new patients. He says every time he walks into Home Depot “to get a few things he needs” wearing his safety eyewear, other customers approach him to inquire about the safety eyewear he is wearing and where he purchased it. This patient is a walking billboard for our practice.

Learn Spanish, Or at Least How to do an Eye Exam in Spanish
At a minimum, all optometrists show know how to conduct an eye exam in Spanish. To go the extra mile, and build bonds with Hispanic patients, learn conversational Spanish using a resource like Rosetta Stone, which costs $7.99 per month for one year of access to the language-learning tools.

Your Hispanic patients will be impressed that you’re trying to communicate with them in their language. Don’t be too concerned about having a thick accent or mispronunciations. Just that you’re trying means a lot to them. Hispanics are proud of their heritage and language. Making an effort to communicate with them in Spanish will create loyalty and trust for you and your practice.

1. Brookings

2. CDC: Hispanics and Latinos Have Higher Risk for Vision Loss

3. U.S. Census

4. Consumer buying power is more diverse than ever

Diana Canto-Sims, OD, is co-owner of Buena Vista Optical in Chicago. To contact her:

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