By Matthew Ward, OD
Presbyopic patients are eager to hear solutions that will help them recapture a sense of youthful vision. Many are also motivated to stay in their contact lenses. Others have never worn glasses and have no desire to start wearing them now. For most of these patients, multifocal contact lenses could be a way to happily manage presbyopia.
Before your patients can benefit from all that multifocals have to offer, however, you must successfully encourage them to fulfill the prescription you wrote.
Offer Multifocal CLs & Let Patients Experience It
The simple act of offering multifocal contact lenses has been my best marketing venture. I continue to encourage patients, even those who never thought of wearing contacts, into successful multifocal fits and lens purchases.
Let’s say we have a toric presbyopic patient, and I know that I can get their parameters in a contact lens. I’ll ask that patient if they ever considered contact lens wear. If they indicate they have zero interest (and you can judge this pretty quickly in the conversation), I move on without talking much more about it. However, if there is any indication of interest, I offer to have my staff put a contact lens on the patient’s eye so they can experience what their vision could be like.
Patients don’t know what they don’t know. We can’t expect them to know if they want contact lenses if they have nothing to base that decision on. I explain that there will be no charge to have my staff put the lenses on, just so they can see what the vision would be like.
My staff member places the lens I am recommending on the patient’s eyes, and takes the patient back to the welcome area to walk around, look outside, read something. In 10 minutes, that same staff member comes back. They ask the patient what they think. If the patient isn’t impressed, doesn’t like it, or is not interested, the staff member takes the lens off, and no fee is charged to the patient. In my experience, this happens maybe one-in-10 times. The other nine-in-10 patients say something like, “Hey, I think we’re on to something here.”
After the patient expresses satisfaction and interest in the lens they have experienced, my staff member sits down with the patient and shares what the costs will be to move forward. We go over what the contact lens exam fee is, what follow-up fees are, and any other costs to the patient. If the patient at this point says, “thanks, but no thanks,” the contact lens is taken off by the staff member, and no evaluation is done by the doctor. Most patients who like the lens they experienced agree to the fees, sign the form indicating that we proceed, and then I see them again for a follow-up evaluation.
Make Multifocals Doable for More of Your Patients
The downside of multifocal contact lenses for many patients is the added cost. They are always going to be more expensive than the patient’s old single-vision contacts.
In our practice, we offer patient financing via the CareCredit credit card, which makes services and product purchases, like an annual supply of multifocal contacts, within reach for many patients.
For the hesitant new multifocal patient: “Peter, I completely understand. Multifocal contact lenses are definitely more expensive than your old lenses–but what you get in return is substantial. I wear multifocal contact lenses myself, and I can tell you that based on my experience, and that of many of my other patients, they are 100 percent worth the added cost. The great part is that in addition to all you get in enhanced vision–without having to carry reading glasses–you have an option in our office of possibly purchasing your new contacts with the CareCredit credit card and of receiving a rebate with an annual purchase. There is an approval process, which our front office staff will help you with. We want to make it as easy as possible in our office to get all the products and services the doctor feels are best for you. The CareCredit credit card is one of the ways we try to make that happen.”
Multifocals Are a Win for Both Patients & Practice
Multifocal contact lenses are as good for practices as they are for patients.
Let’s say you offer a new multifocal contact lens to two patients per week and charge $150 for a contact lens evaluation. Profitability on each multifocal lens can be anywhere from $30-$50 a box, depending on how each practice prices.
So, if a practice is able to get a multifocal lens on two new patients per week, and that patient ends up ordering even a six-month supply of monthly lenses, that would be the $150 fitting fee per person, plus $80 profit on the six-month supply per person = $460 /week gross that the practice owner might have missed out on if they just didn’t offer the lens.
The $80 profit for six months comes from the fact that an annual supply (12 months, thus 4 boxes) is about $140 profit (depending on COG and what you set price). So, at only six months (2 boxes), it’s about half of that, and could be about $80 profit.
$460 is simply two new patients in contacts ($150 each for the fitting fee, $150 x 2 = 300). Plus, assume each of those patients orders a six-month supply. We just said that a six-month supply is $80 profit to the practice each. So, that means: $80 x 2 = 160. 300 + 160 = $460.
Now assume you could do that with one patient a day, and you are working 263 business days per year = $230/person x 263 days = $60,490. That number would be even bigger for a daily multifocal lens. A big deal.
Patient financing through the CareCredit credit card enables me to offer patients a way to walk out the door with the contact lens I feel is best for their vision and lifestyle needs, and greatly boost profitability at the same time. You could say it’s one of the best-kept secrets behind successful multifocal sales.