By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
May 10, 2017
Many of your patients will visit your practice yearly regardless of the economy, but a significant number of other patients may not, findings from The Vision Council’s March 2017 Economic Situation Report suggest. While 58.3 percent say “the economy will not affect my plans to get an exam,” 15.5 percent say “I will only have my eyes examined if the exam cost is covered by my vision insurance program.”
Some 12.8 percent say “I will search harder for the best value when selecting a location to have an exam,” while 12.4 percent say “I am more likely to take care of other routine healthcare check-ups before having an eye exam,” and 6 percent say “I will only have my eyes examined, and probably won’t purchase any eyewear after the exam.” Some 4.9 percent say “I will postpone having an eye exam until economic conditions improve.”
According to a recent survey, one-third of patients leaving the average practice feel the prices in the practice are too high. Do your patients feel this way? They only way to know is to ask. Just as the Vision Council’s March 2017 Economic Situation Report gives us insight into how the economy is impacting patients’ decision processes on getting an exam, we need to survey our patients to know what they are thinking.
But before we start asking our patients, we first need to make sure we are moving patients’ thinking in an intentionally positive direction. We need to understand how to move our patients’ thoughts in a positive direction. That means we need to be able to understand and implement the concepts of price and value.
Price is just a dollar amount assigned to a service or a product. Price usually reflects the going rate locally. The first question most people ask is “How much will it cost?”
So, how do we manage the perception of price in a practice? Stand at the doorway to your practice and ask the price question in your own mind. Coming into this practice, what is my expectation of price? Is there any signage that helps? Is there a sign that says we have solutions to meet all budgets?
Think creatively. What signage could you put (and where would you put it) that welcomes patients by managing the price question? Think of this question negatively as well. What signage would you not want to see?
Value is the significance we apply to a service or a product. With value, the decision to buy goes beyond price to the additional benefits we will receive with the purchase.
The value question becomes: are your doctors and staff trained to present value with the services and products you deliver in your practice? Here’s how to know. Stand in the optical. When a patient reaches for a frame and asks the “how much” question, is the answer delivered with a 30-second value answer before delivering the price?
Now go listen to your pre-testors. Do they explain the value of each test to the patient while doing the test? Likewise, in the exam room, are the doctors explaining the value of each test, rather than just doing the tests?
We know that value, not price, drives most purchasing decisions, yet when we get rushed in a practice, the value discussions are often the first casualty.
Take this week to look at how the messages of price and value are delivered in your practice. See if you can find at least one area to improve.