By Patty Casebolt
Chief Quality Officer
Medical Eye Center
Independent optometry has significant challenges, and tremendous opportunities. The right practice resources can help you provide a high level of care and spur business success, so you can capture those big opportunities for growth.
Fortunately, patient financing through the CareCredit credit card does just that. It has given my practice another resource to make it more likely patients leave from our office with the eyewear that will improve their vision and quality of life.
Here is how we are using patient financing, along with other approaches, to improve our eyewear capture rate, so we remain profitable while knowing our patients are getting only the best.
Educate the Whole Practice on Optical Products
The overall eyewear capture rate in our OD-MD practice, for both ODs and MDs is 62-65 percent. For the ODs alone, the capture rate is 75 percent. To work toward improving capture rate for both our MDs and ODs, we have the doctors, along with our opticians, listen to educational presentations from optical lab representatives.
For example, we had a lab rep visit, who talked to our doctors about the significant improvement to a macular degeneration patient’s vision the right lens can make. The rep showed us a lens that decreases glare while increasing light capture. The whole office was impressed with the difference such a lens could make in the life of a patient with macular degeneration. The presentation especially made an impression on our MDs, who had not considered enough before the positive impact on quality of life a pair of glasses with effective lenses could have when coupled with the treatments they are administering. We noticed an increase in capture rate among our MDs shortly after they were presented this information.
5 Insights to Impact
Educate Doctors & Opticians. It isn’t enough for opticians to know about your optical products. Doctors must understand, too, the impact the right lens can make on a patient with an eye disease they are treating.
Get to Know Your Patients. Lifestyle questionnaires coupled with in-depth conversations between practice teams and patients can give you the power to ensure patients have all products the doctor has prescribed.
Lessen Challenges to Payment. Patients may want to make a purchase of multiple pairs of eyewear, but their insurance will only cover one pair. Offering patient financing through the CareCredit credit card can open the opportunity to do what both the doctor and the patient would like to do.
Show Opticians What Makes the Difference to Sales. Opticians often don’t realize what they are doing differently from the opticians who are out-performing them. Talking about the process behind the leading optician’s success, including the discussion of lifestyle and payment options, can help the other opticians improve greatly.
See What Your Practice Looks Like to an Outsider. The hustle and bustle of daily practice life, especially during an ongoing crisis, can obscure what the real patient experience is like. Have a friend, whom your staff has never met, or a vendor partner, visit as a patient. The feedback of this “mystery shopper” can highlight opportunities for improvements in patient care and service.
Validate the Patient’s Lifestyle
Both in the exam room and in the optical, the patient should feel that your team understands why they are in your office. That means taking the time to converse with each patient about their daily routines and hobbies. In our office, we use a lifestyle questionnaire to help get this conversation started.
Doctors and opticians who work as a team to understand a patient’s full needs would know, for example, that a patient may need computer glasses to offset digital eye fatigue and potential damage from blue light for the 8-12 hours per day they sit in front of the computer weekdays and polarized sunwear for the long drives and boating the patient does on the weekends.
Move Beyond: “I Only Want What My Insurance Covers”
The patient who immediately tells the doctor and optician they only want what their insurance covers is a daily occurrence in many practices. The remedy to this patient mindset is for the doctor and the optician to concentrate on educating the patient about how their lives will improve with the products the doctor has prescribed. When the patient balks at the cost, which will go beyond what their insurance will cover, the practice team can let the patient know they have flexibility in how they pay: “The good news is with a CareCredit credit card you can get both the computer glasses and sunwear you need for your time outdoors. If approved, you can take advantage of 6 or 12 months promotional financing on purchases of $200 or more. Would you like to learn more and see what your suggested monthly payment could be?”
Note: We use the online payment calculator or the patient financing brochure to show estimated monthly payments and disclosures to the patient.
When the patient sees they can have deferred interest, or no interest, if the promotional purchase is paid off in the promotional period of 6 or 12 months, they usually are convinced to purchase all the products the doctor has prescribed.
Show Opticians What Makes the Difference Between the Strongest & Weakest Selling Optician
Our top-performing optician makes $6 more per hour than her base pay with 17 percent of her sales multiple-pairs. The weakest-performing optician only makes around a dollar more per hour than her base pay. We made these performance metrics public among our opticians, and talked about what the best-performing optician is doing differently from the poorest-performing optician. The difference is the top optician talks about the option for using the CareCredit credit card immediately after reviewing the patient’s lifestyle needs: “We can bill insurance and you can get a second pair, and If approved, you can use the CareCredit credit card and your monthly payment could be $30 per month with no interest if paid in full within 12 months.Would you like to learn more?”
When the other opticians tried this approach of educating patients about the patient financing option right after discussing lifestyle needs they, too, experienced success in selling that second or third pair of eyewear.
“Mystery Shop” Your Practice
Have a friend or an industry partner, like your CareCredit rep, come in as a patient and then give you feedback. We have had four CareCredit reps do this educational exercise with our practice, sharing with our team what they observed. As a result, we practice the whole process the patient goes through once they leave the exam room with their prescription, from having the lifestyle conversation to educating the patient about the patient financing options to using one of our iPads to help the patient apply for a CareCredit credit card. The application and credit-decision process typically takes two minutes or less.
We conducted this type of training with help from CareCredit in the first quarter of 2021 and noted that our optical sales rose 50 percent compared to the previous quarter. We believe the training on how to educate and serve patients, and how patient financing can enable the purchase of essential products patients need, was one major reason sales soared.
|Patty Casebolt is Chief Quality Officer at Medical Eye Center in Medford, Ore. To contact her: PATTY@medicaleyecenter.com|
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