Dry Eye

The Dry Eye Services Contributing to Our $564 Revenue Per Exam

Dr. Foster with a patient receiving intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. Dr. Foster says IPL, and her other dry eye treatments, have offered a significant boost to both patient care and profitability.

Dr. Foster with a patient receiving intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. Dr. Foster says IPL, and her other dry eye treatments, have offered a significant boost to both patient care and profitability.

Key actions to grow dry eye services and profitability.

By Kara Foster, OD

May 22, 2024

The prevalence of dry eye shows no signs of slowing down.

The DEWS II Epidemiology Report estimated the global prevalence of dry eye disease (DED) at 5-50 percent, and the National Eye Institute reports that almost 16 million Americans have DED.

ODs who do not offer a thorough range of dry eye services in their practice are missing a significant opportunity to help patients and grow profitability.

As a smaller, family eyecare office, I want to be able to help our patients with their real needs, and not have to send them elsewhere.

We strive to treat the whole family, from babies to their great-grandparents. Offering comprehensive dry eye services in-house via intense pulsed light (IPL) and other treatments is a key way I do this.

Getting Started

In 2023, we started a dry eye clinic at our practice, EyeCare for You, using ZEST treatments, lid debridement, meibomian gland expression and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments.

In a town of engineers, software developers, and many people who work from home, dry eye is one of our biggest complaints. These are professionals who put in extensive screen time, and screen time is a known contributing factor to dry eye.

Offering Non-Pharmacological Treatment Options

We wanted to be able to offer non-pharmacological treatments because our highly educated and health-conscious patients may not be interested in long-term medical interventions, and also appreciate a reduced dependency on artificial tears and warm compresses.

Although we continue to emphasize dry eye maintenance at home, some patients choose repeat IPL sessions in our office, so they need to do less maintenance themselves.

Investing in Needed Equipment

We purchased our IPL equipment through a loan, for just under $100,000. Our payments are $2,000 per month. We started seeing 2-3 IPL patients per month within the first six months, so this equipment quickly covered its own expense.

Optimizing Advantages of Out-of-Pocket Services

We are a direct care, or fee-for-service practice, with all of our medical services paid by the patient at the time of the exam.

This is not that much different than most offices as these treatments aren’t always covered by insurance, however I believe our patients may be more accepting of paying us directly.

We are open and direct about our pricing, and have it listed on our website. In order to encourage patients to start with the recommended four treatments, we offer a discount for their first four sessions when paid upfront.

Getting Trained to Serve Dry Eye Patients

We had an in-person training session with our IPL vendor, and several webinar training sessions, and spend a good deal of time practicing IPL treatments on each other. We’ve been very impressed with the IPL and its range of functionality.

We were pleased to be able to expand our IPL treatment to ocular and facial rosacea, as well as focal chalazia treatment.

Schedule Patients to Improve Their Experience & Your Efficiency

We reserve time slots for IPL sessions each afternoon to accommodate our patients’ availability, but also to be able to serve several patients at the same time more efficiently. If those slots don’t get filled with IPL patients, we pull from our wait list to fill the slots.

Return on Investment

We made a profit of $22,000 in our first year with the IPL with patients we’ve already seen, just coming in for additional services. We generate an extra $8,000 in products and dry eye services.

All of this contributes significantly to our $564 per patient revenue.

Long-Term Vision

As our dry-eye services expand, we plan to add a spa-like treatment room to our office to create an even more comfortable environment.

We want our patients to leave with both their eyes and spirit feeling better.

Kara Foster, OD, is the owner of EyeCare for You in Apex, N.C. To contact her: drkara@directcaredifference.com


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