By Janelle Davison, OD
Jan. 26, 2022
Your contact lens patients can be a great source of practice profitability, returning each year for the exam they need in order to renew their prescription. They also often buy glasses and sunwear, and sometimes require medical eyecare treatments. For the patient and practice to realize the benefits of contact lens wear, however, you must do everything you can to keep these patients in their lenses.
We have found three major reasons why people drop out of contacts: comfort, convenience and cost. My practice developed a strategy that addresses all of those factors. This resulted in nearly 100 percent of our contact lens patients staying in their lenses and a 70+ percent contact lens sales capture rate. Here is how we do it.
Set Cost Expectations at Check-In
Contact lens patients sometimes get upset when they learn there will be a contact lens fitting fee, in addition to the cost of the lenses. To make sure there are no surprises, contact lens patients are given additional online paperwork prior to the start of their appointment that details the contact lens fitting fee. We then collect that fee prior to the exam. We ask all patients if they are interested in contact lenses before the start of the exam, so we don’t end up with a patient in the exam chair who tells us they are interested, but has not yet been informed of the contact lens fitting fee. Once we know for sure that the patient is opting for contacts, we collect the fee.
In the past, we experienced surprise and push-back from patients checking out from their appointment, who did not understand that there would be an additional fee that their insurance would not necessarily cover, or wouldn’t cover in full.
If the patient has vision insurance, we also point out ahead of time that they have a materials benefit that can be applied to either the purchase of glasses or contact lenses.
Screen All Patients for Ocular Surface Disease & Ask About Comfort
Ocular surface disease (OSD), including especially dry eye, is a top cause of discomfort while wearing contact lenses, and often leads to dropouts. For that reason, we screen all patients for OSD. In addition to dry eye, we screen for droopy eyelids and blepharitis, and do ocular surface index scoring on every patient. I also review the patient’s history, noting ocular allergies that could impact comfort.
We interview contact lens patients thoroughly to gauge wearing habits and comfort level. Questions we ask include:
How often do you wear your contacts?
Do you ever sleep in your contacts?
How long do you keep the same pair of contacts in?
What solutions do you use to clean your contacts (if in a monthly lens)?
What outdoor activities do you do?
When wearing your contacts, how do your eyes feel at the end of the day? Are you able to get through the whole day wearing your contacts?
Are you interested in learning about new contact lens technology and newer options for contact lenses?
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If the patient expresses satisfaction with their lenses, and my examination does not reveal ocular surface disease, or any other signs that their current lenses are causing damage, I let the patient decide if they would like to try a newer lens. I have had many patients come to me after having another eye doctor insist that they switch from a lens they were happy with to a newer lens, which they do not like. I don’t want my patients, whose eyes are doing well, and who are comfortable in their current lenses, to be compelled as a matter of course to start wearing a newer lens.
When my examination and/or the patient’s low comfort level indicates a need for a change, I take the time to explain why I believe the newer lens is a better choice for them. Since newer lenses are typically more expensive, it’s important that the patient understand the benefit and value of the new lens.
Schedule Virtual Appointment Follow-Ups
Whenever I have a new contact lens wearer, or one who has switched lenses, I schedule a virtual appointment via our doxy.me platform to see what they think of the new lenses.
If the lens is a monthly replacement, I ask about their lens cleaning regimen, and if it’s a daily disposable, I ask if they are taking out the lenses every night before bed and throwing them away, so they can put a fresh lens on in the morning.
These appointments give me a chance to catch dissatisfaction and make a quick change. It prevents a patient from just throwing up their hands in frustration and dropping out of lenses without letting us know there is a problem.
Offer Patient More than One Way to Buy From You
To make it as convenient as possible for patients, we offer three ways to buy contacts from us: A one-year supply with manufacturer rebates, a six-month supply, which sometimes comes with rebates, and purchasing via a propriety subscription service, Healthy Easy Reduced Risk Option (HERO), which we developed especially for our office.
Just as we do for patients purchasing eyewear, we provide price quotes, after insurance and rebates are applied, for each of the three options.
The patient who opts for HERO pays the fee for the first month supply of contacts on the day of their appointment, and then are charged on a per-month basis after that, with contacts custom packaged in our office sent to them so they never run out of new lenses.
Patients who opt for a six-month supply are sent messaging from MARLO, Alcon’s contact lens ordering and delivery service, to reorder. Six-month and one-year supplies are shipped directly from the manufacturer to the patient.
Our patients know that, like everything else we do in our office, we want to make contact lenses as comfortable and easy for them as possible. This results in the vast majority of contact lens patients staying in their lenses, choosing to buy from us, and telling their friends and family about their positive experience.