By Jeffrey W. Robertson, OD
and Jennifer C. Lane, OD
Offering patient financing to purchase eyewear can provide you with a practice differentiator that helps your practice stand out from competitors. Publicizing the availability of a patient financing option can be a key marketing advantage.
Offering patients the option to finance their eyewear purchases is a powerful tool to ensure that patients will cover all of the visual correction needs and not make compromises on seeing as well as they can see.
Traditionally, when patients go over their choices in your optical shop, many will stop at one pair leaving you and your opticians wondering what you could have said or offered to stimulate a second-pair purchase. Bundled packages and special deals are helpful, but offering a patient financing option like the CareCredit credit card also is a strong motivator. A patient who may hesitate to spend above a certain price point at one time may think differently about spreading the cost out over six months.
A counter card with accompanying brochures informs patients of the benefits of CareCredit.
The practicethat offers the payment flexibility afforded by patient financing isset apart from competitors who do not offer such an option. This works best if you educatepatients and prospective patients about the availability of patient financing in your office. This becomes an effective marketing differentiator.
Patient Financing Pays
Accepting the CareCredit credit card has added an additional 5 percent+ to our gross revenues since January 2013, and we can see the future only improving. We view CareCredit as a partner more than a financing operation. In other words, we think CareCredit will help us grow in the future. We take optical dispensary goals seriously as we are a Transitions Five Star Partner with greater than 43 percent of our patients getting Transitions in their lenses. We have greater than 82 percent of our patients getting AR lenses.
Provide a Way for Patients to Get the Products They Need
About two years ago, we began to look into CareCredit as another way to help patients pay for quality eyecare and products. We attended Vision Expo West in 2012 and signed up for CareCredit at that meeting. We have accepted CareCredit in our office for about one year. Let me begin with the philosophy of our practice and that is “We do things right, we do the right things and we follow the rules, even the unwritten ones.” That translates into how we can best serve our patients. This means we want our patients to have the best vision possible. We want our patients to maintain their best eye health. We want our patients to see and have good eye health for a lifetime.
Eyewear options become more affordable when paid on a monthly basis without the additional burden of finance charges if paid within the stipulated period of time. For that reason, we let all patients who come to our office know about the special financing option*. In fact, before a patient ever reaches our office, they know about the special financing option* as our receptionist mentions it over the phone. We are in the process of adding a CareCredit link to our practice web site and our practice Facebook page. In addition, we have CareCredit brochures in our office. It is discussed at check in, by the doctor when recommendations are made, by our optical people and by our check-out receptionist.
CareCredit, a part of GE Capital, offers healthcare financing for consumers through a network of over 150,000 providers. Founded in 1987, CareCredit was initially offered to doctors to help their patients pay for new dental implant technology.
Continued advancements in technology, and procedures that are often not covered or fully covered by insurance, have created new choices for care, increasing the demand for special financing options. CareCredit is a health, beauty and wellness credit card that can be used as a payment option for certain expenses not covered by insurance or to bridge situations when desired care exceeds insurance coverage. You can even use it for co-payments and deductibles.
Avoid Competing On Price with Patient Financing
With corporate optometric chains and online retailers, it is hard for an independent OD to compete on price, which is why my practice doesn’t try to. We are committed to providing excellence in eyecare. We have the most up-to-date and modern instruments. We offer premium lens products, options and treatments. How do we do that? Information about the CareCredit credit card is offered when a patient checks in at the front desk and educational folders are available for review. The doctors prescribe vision solutions for the patient in the exam lane, write them down and explain them to the patients. CareCredit is offered to the patient as a payment option by the doctors. The patient is escorted by a staff person to the opticians where they go over the doctor’s recommendations. CareCredit is offered as a payment option at that time, as well.
Patient financing allows us also to compete with chains that offer their own credit. However, we have the advantage in that CareCredit is also accepted in many other doctors’ offices including but not limited to dentists, podiatrists, physicians and veterinarians. The optometric chains’ cards are not good at any of these locations.
Train Staff to Educate Patients on Financing Option
When we hire people, we hire attitude and train skill. One of my many sayings is:“Your attitude will determine your altitude in life.” Before we hire an employee they have agreed to follow our philosophy and practice rules, procedures and policies. Therefore, when we train we know the employee will embrace our policies and procedures. This was especially true in setting up CareCredit in our office. If the employees were not on board then it would fail. We found out that for every five patients who were offered the opportunity to apply for CareCredit, four would say no. I like to teach success and not failure.
We teach our employees that you have to get four no’s before you get one yes. That means that you want to get your four no’s because each no puts you closer to that one yes. The no’s became part of the success strategy. Our practice philosophy is to reward those employees who succeed and develop those who do not. We have training on CareCredit about every quarter during one of our weekly meetings.
*Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See carecredit.com for details.
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Jeffrey W. Robertson, OD, and Jennifer C. Lane, OD, are co-owners of Jeffrey W. Robertson, OD, LLC., in Suffolk, VA To contact them: email@example.com