By Rajeev K. Raghu, OD, FAAO
Switch patients from two-week contact lenses to one-day replacement or monthly replacement contact lenses to improve compliance and lessen the chances of lens discomfort and dropouts.
My practice stopped prescribing two-week contact lenses in 2007. We had too many patients wearing the lenses longer, many with contact lens acute red eyes and corneal ulcerations. Since switching patients to one-day disposable contact lenses or monthly disposable lenses (for those unable to tolerate one-day disposables), we found a decrease in our contact lens dropouts of about 30 percent. From our conversation with patients and examination of their eyes we discovered that those in one-day replacement or monthly replacement contact lenses were less likely to suffer from eye discomfort, dryness and redness.
Improve Eye Comfort=Fewer Dropouts=Greater Revenues
The decrease in contact lens dropouts has resulted in financial gains for our practice. Our contact lens revenue increased dramatically after switching to prescribing one-day or one-month replacement contact lenses, nearly doubling in the first year! We use to make $50 to $80 per patient per year with two-week contact lenses and now we are generating $120 to $160 per patient per year supply. Revenue increased due to better profit margins with one-day contact lenses, better patient compliance, better inventory of contact lenses in our office and year-supply incentives.
Our improved revenues after limiting dropouts by switching patients to one-day or monthly replacement contact lenses is backed up by recent research. According to “New Data on Contact Lens Dropouts: An International Perspective” by John Rumpakis, OD, MBA, a study published by the Review of Optometry in 2010, the loss of a single contact lens patient may cost your practice up to $24,000 over the patient’s lifetime.
Explain to Patients Why to Switch to One-Day or Monthly Replacement CLs
Our practice philosophy when prescribing contact lenses is health, vision, then comfort. One-day contact lenses decrease the risk for allergies, infections and hypoxia. Optically, they are excellent, and being very thin, allow for better comfort. If a patient cannot tolerate a one-day contact lens then we prescribe a silicone hydrogel monthly lens. Most silicone hydrogel two-week contact lenses actually cost more than one-day disposable contact lenses. Here is what a conversation about making the switch might sound like:
Doctor: Sandra, how are you doing with your contact lenses? Are they comfortable from the time you put them in to the time you take them out at the end of the day?
Patient: Yeah, they’re pretty good. Sometimes at the end of a long day at work, staring at the computer screen all day, they get a little dry, but other than that I’m good.
Doctor: I’m glad you’re mostly doing well in the lenses. I have an idea that might make the lenses even more comfortable and reduce some of the protein build-up I noticed on your lenses. What do you think of contact lenses you wear for a day and then throw away when you take them out? We’ve found patients like one-day disposables a lot more than contact lenses they wear for two weeks, and it’s easier because you don’t have to worry about cleaning them or remembering to take them out every two weeks.
Patient: Yeah, I have friends who are in one-days and seem to like them. But I always liked my two-week lenses so I never thought I should ask about switching.
Doctor: Would you be willing to give one-day disposables a try? Unopened boxes are exchanged at no cost. And all patients are given two weeks to try out the new lenses first before purchasing.
Patient: Sure, I could give them a try.
Five Steps to Moving Patients from Two-Week Contact Lenses to One-Day or Monthly Replacement CLs
1. Don’t pre-judge your patients. Give them the best for their eyes regardless of cost.
2. Prescribe contacts. Do not offer options.
3. Educate patients about products in the exam room.
4. Point out to patients who are hesitant to switch from their old contact lenses that one-day replacement contact lenses only cost $1 a day.
5. Give incentives for yearly supplies such as discounts, rebates or sunglasses promotions.
Prescribing daily or monthly disposable contact lenses will improve the eye health and comfort of patients and make contact lenses more profitable for your practice by sharply reducing dropouts.
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Rajeev K. Raghu, OD, FAAO, is the owner of The Eye Center at Jackson in Jackson, NJ. To contact him: email@example.com.