By Vince Zingaro, OD
Dec. 9, 2020
There are many reasons why daily disposable contact lenses are the fastest growing modality in soft lenses right now. For patients, they’re more convenient, often more comfortable, and now more available due to an increase in parameters, particularly toric lenses.
For doctors, they provide a higher profit margin than other modalities, promote patient compliance and result in fewer contact lens adverse reactions. Success with daily disposable contacts is a win for patients, the practice and your personal brand. Satisfied patients will happily recommend more patients to your practice.
Daily disposable contact lenses are relatively expensive, but that shouldn’t stop doctors from recommending them. Our job is to offer patients what we believe is the best solution to their problem, and when you put this into practice, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to break down the barrier of cost.
Over the last year, I’ve practiced in three different offices with three different patient demographics and I’ve had success fitting patients in daily disposables at each of these locations. I’ve found that when you personalize a contact lens prescription for a patient, they are more likely to take your recommendation. Patients of all demographics are willing to go with daily disposables, but they don’t want to spend more money on something without a reason. It’s our job to explain why we choose a specific lens for a specific patient. We can’t always accomplish this alone.
It’s important to have your entire staff in sync, so the patient gets a clear and consistent message. Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your office to drive more revenue into your contact lens practice:
Explain to your staff why it’s important for your patients to be in daily disposable contact lenses
The staff are the first and last people your patients will interact with, so they need to understand the value of daily disposables just as much as the doctor. Informing them of why you prefer one brand over another, ensuring they are familiar with current manufacturer rebates, and educating them on the health benefits of daily disposables to the patient, are critical. We want our staff to be as enthusiastic as we are about solving our patient’s vision problems with contact lenses.
The knowledge and enthusiasm of your staff will increase your patient’s confidence that daily disposables are the best fit for their needs.
Execute the perfect handoff
After an exam, I find it critical to review what I have talked about with the patient in the exam room with my optician. I do this in front of my patient. Hearing a summary of what the patient and I agreed to in the exam room reassures the patient, enabling everyone to be on the same page.
My verbiage goes something to the effect of: “I’ve fit Mrs. Smith into this brand of contact lenses and she’s doing great. I approved an annual supply and I told her about the manufacturer rebate. She prefers her contacts shipped directly to her house and she has plenty of trials to hold her over until her supply arrives.” The patient knows what to expect since this is the second time she’s heard this and the optician is on board with everything we discussed.
You can’t always beat price, but you can always beat the service
Daily disposables aren’t cheap, and while patients can sometimes save a few bucks shopping around, it’s worth the cost for most patients if you can provide superior service. I typically explain to the patient in the exam room that the cheapest way to purchase contacts is to get an annual supply. I always mention manufacturer rebates and reassure the patient that, should the prescription change or the contacts become uncomfortable, we will gladly take back any unopened boxes and exchange them for a new prescription or brand of contacts. Patients take comfort in knowing they won’t get stuck with contacts that they can’t use.
Other Pieces to Explore
I typically offer to ship the annual supply direct to the patient’s home, free of charge. I also remind patients that they’ll save at least $100 off of their grocery bill as they won’t have to purchase contact lens solution. Lastly, little things, such as, smiling and being enthusiastic about solving our patient’s vision problems, go a long way in building patient loyalty. When the doctor and staff seem happy it gets passed along to the patients.
Consider part-time contact lens wearers
Not all patients are willing to completely ditch their glasses for contact lenses. Patients who work from home, have a mild prescription, or love how they look in glasses, often like to wear contact lenses only on occasion. It’s important not to label patients a “glasses wearer” or “contact wearer” as many patients like to wear both. I mention to each patient during the exam that they’d be a great candidate for contact lenses.
Patients don’t always realize that this is an option for them. A lot of patients like to wear them for social events or sports. The daily disposable modality is perfect for part-time wearers since they won’t have to take care of them and they’ll only need a small supply. Find out what sports or hobbies your patients are interested in and then offer the benefits of a daily disposable lens to enhance their experience for those activities.
Don’t be discouraged: There’s always next year
There are some patients who, for various reasons, aren’t ready to make a switch to daily disposable contact lenses. Patients rely on us to keep them up to date with the latest contact lens technology available. Bringing up these new contact lens advances with patients each year may spark renewed interest. Financial barriers that exist one year may be gone the next. We can’t assume that because a patient didn’t want a daily disposable once, that they will never be interested in them again.
Educating patients on how a daily disposable lens can specifically benefit them gives them something to consider when they come in for their next eye exam.
Getting patients to follow your recommendations isn’t easy in any aspect of medicine, but it’s always worth the effort. When patients get the best solutions to their problems, it’s a win for the patient and the practice. When I left my previous practice in early 2020, we were fitting 83 percent of our patients in daily disposable contacts. The revenue generated from this modality was great and the referrals from happy patients were even better. The same process is happening now with the offices where I currently practice.
Taking time to get your message across to everyone in the office makes it easier to pass that message along to the patient. If you’re successful, your patients and practice will be much better off.