By Maria Sampalis, OD
Sept. 23, 2020
Operating a high-performing optometric practice comes with many costs. Fortunately, some of those costs can be cut or defrayed, and there are ways to capture additional revenues that you may be overlooking. Here is how I do this in my practice.
Join a Buying Group
There are many buying groups and optometric alliances to choose from today. My practice is a member of Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA), an organization whose advisory board I serve on. We benefit from discounts on inventory including contact lenses and frames, while making our bookkeeping more efficient. Instead of paying all of these vendors individually, I pay just one bill per month to HEA.
Average savings: 20 percent overall on inventory costs
Sell Discontinued Frames as Part of Value Eyewear Packages
Buying discontinued frames from your frame vendors is a huge way to save money. I let patients know there is no warranty on glasses made with discontinued frames. Many patients make the purchase anyway, feeling that the savings they enjoy are worth taking a chance and going without a warranty. These are patients who often would not otherwise make a purchase, so in addition to the savings on frame inventory, you are capturing an optical sale that you were about to lose altogether.
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Your frame reps will almost certainly have discontinued frames they are trying to offload and will be grateful for your willingness to purchase. In my practice, we sell discontinued frames from Nike, Guess and Vera Wang, among other frame lines. At any given time, of the approximately 400 frames in my optical, about 30 are discontinued frames.
Average savings: At least 50 percent saved on the wholesale price when purchasing discontinued frames.
Charge Appropriately for Contact Lens Fittings
The service you provide in fitting patients in contact lenses should be reimbursed fairly, as it can require significant time, especially in the case of specialty contacts like toric lenses and multifocals.
Recently, my contact lens fees (along with other services in my practice) increased by 10 percent.
Additional revenue generated: If you fit 1,000 patients annually in contact lenses, a 10 percent increase in fees could mean an additional $10,000 generated annually.
Co-Manage LASIK & Cataract Patients
You may think it’s not worth it to do pre- and post-operative exams for LASIK and cataract patients, but the fees for these services add up. You are providing an important service for these patients by offering these services, and by doing the pre- and post-operative exams in-house you are educating patients that you have a practice capable of providing a high level of medical eyecare.
Additional revenue generated: A 15-minute pre- or post-operative visit for a cataract patient can generate at least $300 for your practice. I only see around five LASIK patients per year for pre- and post-operative visits, but that small number of visits results in around $5,000 annually. I co-manage many more cataract patients, resulting in the generation of around $15,000 annually.
Diagnosing & Treating More Dry Eye
Dry eye is still an often-overlooked opportunity for patient care and practice growth. If 600 of your patients have dry eye, but have not been diagnosed and treated for it, not only are these patients not getting the care they need, but you could be leaving a minimum of $36,000 on the table each year (600 x $60, which is the rate at which we are reimbursed for the 99212 code).
Additional revenue generated: That additional $36,000 doesn’t count the revenues you could generate selling products like Bruder pads and collagen plugs drops in your office, which could bring in another $10,000, or more, adding up to nearly $50,000 in additional revenues altogether in even a small practice like mine.
Maria Sampalis, OD, practices at Sampalis Eye Care in Warwick RI. She is also the founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook. Dr. Sampalis is also founder of the new job site corporateoptometrycareers.com and www.corporateoptometry.com. She is available for practice management consulting. To contact: email@example.com