Practice Management

Practice Investments Generating $100K+ & Boosting Capture Rate 10%

Dr. Werner in his office. He says that there a few investments have helped him improve the lives of patients while also increasing his practice's profitability.

Dr. Werner in his office. He says that there a few investments have helped him improve the lives of patients while also increasing his practice’s profitability.

3 key investments that did a great service for patients & practice.

By Aaron Werner, OD

March 27, 2024

Practice investments can change patient care and experience and greatly boost profitability. Here are a few investments that did wonders for both our patients and us.

Carotenoid Measurement Technology

MacuHealth has always played an important role in AMD treatment in our practice. Twice a year we close for an office planning meeting. At one of those meetings, we brought in the MacuHealth rep to demo the LifeMeter unit for our team. The technology measures carotenoid concentration levels and quantifies the need for nutraceutical help. My staff loved it and how it empowered them to engage more in patient care.

Editor’s Note: There are other nutraceutical supplements to choose from including EyePromise, PreserVision and PRN, among others.

We purchased the system outright for $19,999.

If we look at just additional MacuHealth sales, we paid off our investment within the year. What is harder to measure is the improved engagement with our patients allowing my team (doctors and staff) to provide elevated care and conversations.

Facts are hard to argue while “feelings” are much more gray. Having a repeatable number that corresponds to an aspect of the patient’s nutritional health is much more impactful because it allows us to have personalized conversations with patients.

Previously we’d repeat the same standard nutrition conversation with patients. Now the conversations are personalized. Our team is also able to have conversations with patients – we believe our whole team provides healthcare, not just the doctors in the exam lane.

We are providing unique and more customized care, which translates into better care in the perception of our patients. I believe this has a halo effect. While I have not done a good job tracking, our medical visits were higher in 2023 as a percentage of comprehensive exams. I believe that the additional education and information provided by the LifeMeter was helpful in driving home the importance to patients of continued management.

Profit: This investment generates $50,000 annually for our practice, and we expect this number to increase every year as we see patients return to re-purchase and new patients purchase MacuHealth.

We are successful in use of this technology because our team members are excited about it. We invested time in educating our team. I think too many practice owners bring in new systems or technology without taking the proper time to train…a lunch and learn isn’t enough. A dedicated half day is the minimum time needed to properly train, learn, role play, etc, when introducing new technology like this into your practice.

Chart Audit

We decided to invest in a chart audit with Chris Wolfe, OD, through EyeCode Education.

Editor’s Note: There are other chart auditing services to choose from such as those from Practice Compliance Solutions, EyeCode Chart Auditing Service, Corcoran Consulting Group and Practice Resource Management Inc., among other options.

Professional athletes at the top of their game have coaches and trainers. Why don’t private practice owners? Every few years we hire Dr. Wolfe to do a chart audit for all of our ODs. He randomly audits a specified number of charts from each doctor and provides feedback not only on our documentation, but on coding and billing.

This chart-auditing service costs us $1,995 annually, which includes the auditing service, review and on-demand courses.

We broke even immediately from this investment. We felt heightened confidence right away that we are now charting properly and now know where we can further improve.

The better we document, the better we take care of the patient over time. Also, proper billing and coding allows us to get paid fairly for the care we provide. The healthier the practice is financially, the more we can invest in technology, our team, our doctors and the office overall.

Profit: When we first did a charting audit in 2019, we had an opportunity of reclaiming approximately $60,000 lost to under-billing. During our most recent audit there was less loss to reclaim because our charting and coding and billing skills had improved, but we took a deep dive into what ocular diseases to expect based on prevalence data and the impact of that on our patients’ outcomes (earlier detection is better) and practice revenue (we can now assign values by managing those conditions more thoroughly).

Often we are embarrassed, or worried that we’ll be embarrassed, by someone looking over our shoulder. Get over that. Everyone can improve. As professionals we owe it to our patients to actively pursue opportunities to do so.

Office Remodel

We remodeled our office, especially our optical. We didn’t move any walls, but brought in new displays, new flooring, new paint/color scheme and new cabinets in the exam rooms. We relied heavily on RetailOne and advice from the Vision Source Frame Dream experts, as well as Alex Martin, OD, all of whom have seen hundreds of opticals and know what works and what doesn’t.

We re-painted a few years ago, but the displays and cabinetry were almost 20 years old. While they were still in great condition, they were  dated. We also wanted to bring a different “feel” to the office, one that was more open, and since we were unable to find a building to buy in our home city of San Diego, making adjustments to how we utilized our space became a priority.

Altogether the remodel cost us $150,000.

We paid cash, but only because we have been practicing “Profit First” accounting and had a dedicated savings account built up for this expense. It did not take long, only a few years, to save enough to pay cash.

We immediately profited from this investment! Even during the construction (we did construction over the weekends so patients saw the process happening. They all commented about how excited they were along the process and celebrated along with us).

Georges St-Pierre famously said: “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good.” Having a better-looking clinic, a more open and welcoming space, improved the look and feel of the office.

We didn’t add any more square footage. We merely found a more efficient way to utilize the space we had. (i.e. 20 years ago paper charts required lots of cabinets to hold them; today we are nearly paperless).

Because the clinic looked good, employees and patients felt good and visits improved as well as sales. It may sound odd, but the perception of patients was that we provided better care because the office looked better.

Profit: Our KPI’s increased following the remodel:

    • Revenue per comprehensive exam increased over $100
    • Optical KPIs:
      • Frame capture rate increased 7 percent
      • Frame average sale price (ASP) increased over $50
      • Lens capture rate increased 10 percent
    • 18 percent increase in “medical” visits, which I correlate to more patients accepting our recommendations to return for continued care.

In hindsight, I wish I had made remodeling a priority earlier. I’m sure I’m not alone in falling into the trap of wanting to buy newer diagnostic equipment or treatment equipment, and forgetting the important role the office environment, in which we are providing that treatment, plays in the overall patient experience.

Aaron Werner, ODAaron Werner, OD, is a partner with Werner Optometry, a Vision Source practice, in El Cajon, Calif. Dr. Werner also hosts the Aaron Werner Podcast. To contact him:

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