Ophthalmic Products

How We Grew Our CL Practice 37% & Dry Eye Practice 30% in Revenue By Reducing Our Patients’ “Homework”

The team at West Broward Eyecare Associates, Dr. Rhue’s practice. She says, Dr. Rhue’s practice. She says that making it easy for patient’s to follow her treatment plan, and get prescribed products, is good for both patient care and profitability.

By Brianna Rhue, OD, FAAO, FSLS

June 28, 2023

When you prescribe an at-home dry eye treatment, are you giving your patients “homework” by expecting them to go on a scavenger hunt at the drugstore for what you prescribed? When you prescribe contact lenses, how easy is it for patients to get exactly what you prescribed? Is everything they need for their prescription in one, easy-to-access place?

What’s “Homework”?
Homework for patients is when the patient has an additional hurdle to make it over before being able to get the eye drop, eye vitamin, contact lens or other product you prescribed. When you print the patient a copy of their contact lens prescription, as you must legally do, the patient then has to go through a verification process if they want to shop around and buy from another retailer, or if they want to buy from you, they still have to call your office back to place an order and make a purchase. How do you close the patient experience loop so they have everything they need to fulfill your prescription before they even leave your office?

When the patient returns for evaluation visits, and you have given them homework, such as finding a specific eye drop you prescribed, it’s no wonder many will tell you they have not been using it or explain they never even got it in the first place. Often, even when you offer samples a patient likes, the care regimen is not followed. As much as the patient liked the eye drop sample, they need to go out and find it themselves after the sample runs out.

Online Store
For our dry eye patients, we have an online store connected to our practice, which was set up by DryEye Rescue. Our patients are able to visit the site to purchase exactly what each of the doctors in our practice prescribed. They don’t have to go to a drugstore and search through a large and disorganized eyecare aisle.

Editor’s Note: There are other online dry eye at-home treatment supply companies to choose from, including My Dry Eye Box, Eyecare Live and Eye Drop Shop, among other options.

When patients make a purchase through the site, our practice is credited, so that we get a percentage of each sale. In addition to making life easier for patients, using an online store for dry eye at-home treatments enables the practice to profit from sales of these items.

Digital Prescription & Access to Order Via Text
When patients are given a contact-lens prescription in your office, the goal is for them to purchase an annual supply before they leave the office. However, that often doesn’t happen. Frequently, the patient makes a purchase of contact lenses before leaving, but not for the full year, leaving in question where they will purchase the next round of their supply, or worse, they take the copy knowing they are going to go buy their supply outside of your office.

Using a digital contact-lens ordering system can be a solution to this problem/opportunity, for both your patients and your practice. I use Dr. Contact Lens, a company I co-founded, in my own practice. Patients are given a verified prescription in digital form before they leave the office. They receive a link by text and e-mail which they can tap to be taken to a place where within a few additional clicks, their next supply of contact lenses are on the way to them. If they choose NOT to purchase from us, at least our staff time has been saved since they already have a verified prescription, with no need to call and have our staff do that for them, which is typically done through e-mail.

Editor’s note: There are other contact lens ordering technologies available, including Abby from ABB OPTICAL GROUP, MARLO from Alcon and CLX, among other options. 

Like the limited use of samples in dry eye treatment, I have found that diagnostic contact lenses are best to offer in concert with an order that has already been placed. “I know you’re going to love this improved lens, so we will go ahead and order it for you. I will also give you these diagnostic lenses. Use these first, and if you don’t like the lens, you can return the unopened boxes to us,” I often tell patients when upgrading their contact lenses.

Sell Nutraceuticals in Your Office
I keep the Omega-3 dry eye and AMD prevention nutraceuticals I prescribe in a glass display case at our check-out counter. I always grab a bottle as the patient is walking to the optical. I then let the opticians know that, in addition to the patient’s eyewear and contact-lens prescriptions, I have “prescribed” this or that (or both) nutraceuticals. I am careful to use the word “prescribe” when directing a patient to any product.

Our approach to prescribing specific products, which we make easy for patients to purchase from us, has worked. Our contact-lens revenues have risen 37 percent since we first started using Dr. Contact Lens, our dry eye revenues have risen 30 percent since first using DryEye Rescue and our nutraceutical capture rate for patients diagnosed with macular degeneration is around 90 percent.

If you want to see the extent of your opportunity to provide patients with what they need in your own office, or through a designated website or digital contact-lens ordering platform, observe the eyecare aisle of your local drugstore. You’ll see people stumped and frustrated as they try to locate what their doctor gave them instructions to find. Those are opportunities we’re not seizing that are already in our practice.

Practice- and profitability-building is not always about seeing more patients. It’s sometimes about taking better care of the patients we’re currently seeing.

Brianna Rhue, OD, FAAO, is the co-owner of West Broward Eyecare Associates in Tamarac, Fla. To contact her:  brhue@drcontactlens.com 




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