By Chris Butcher, OD
Jan. 15, 2020
Patients can get eyewear and contact lenses from many sources now, which leaves medical eyecare as a key place where your practice can differentiate itself. The addition of advanced technology can be that differentiator.
Here is how the optomap instrumentation we added to our 15-location practice, in 2005 and 2011, respectively, has improved our patient care and profitability.
Create a Premium Exam Experience
We added the Optos optomap to create a premium exam experience for patients. It allows us to get a good view of the retina, educate patients on what we do and generate additional exam revenue.
Patients are absolutely wowed by seeing images of their retina, and the education they get on what I’m looking for during the exam. We also get auto-fluorescent images, which give us another tool for finding disease such as ARMD.
Fast Break-Even, Immediate Profitability
One of our optomap machines was acquired via loan, and the other is leased. Monthly payments for loans and leases of optomap technology are typically $1,600-$1,800.
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We charge $39 for the optomap image, and by default, include it as part of every exam. Our cash-pay price includes the optomap, and we add $39 to every vision plan co-pay when we quote prices to patients.
Editor’s Note: If you are a provider for the third party that covers the patient, you MUST have an Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN) signed before the patient leaves the office.
Some 90-95 percent of our patients accept the price we quote them, including the built-in optomap fee. That means, even at the $1,800 per-month cost, we breakeven in about one week or less (46 patients). The rest is profit per month.
The key to profitability with optomap technology is not to oversell it–just assume everyone wants to have a premium exam experience and deliver it. An optomap will yield capture rates of 80 percent, or higher, and at $39 per patient, most practices should be able to become profitable from the investment after the first two weeks of every month.
An optomap also speeds exam times even if the dilation rate doesn’t change because the doctor has an excellent roadmap for dilation. This should allow offices to see more patients per day, as well.
We use the optomap at all of our offices, and it really just comes down to patient volume as to how high the revenue can be. We have a couple busy offices that we generate over $200,000 per year in each office from use of optomap. These offices are in average middle-income communities, and not just a result of being in the high-end area. The average practice, based on typical patient volume, should be able to generate about $100,000 per year from adding optomap technology. The math here is simply: (patient volume per year x 95%) x price ($39).
Building Optomap Fee Into Overall Exam Fee Works Best
Everyone needs to believe in giving the best possible exams for patients, and I believe this tool is critical in delivering on the promise. We have found that the more we explain upfront, the MORE resistance we get from patients.
We just assume everyone wants a great eye exam and quote them an overall price that includes optomap imaging. If patients question the pricing for the optomap testing, we explain more about why we do it and why the DOCTOR wants it done. We use a kiosk that has HIPPA and ABN with an up-to amount for retinal images that the patient signs after we have quoted out the fees.
We do most of our education after we image the patient in the exam room. There are simple instructions given by our technicians for taking the image. We tell patients, who want to know more, that we take digital images of the inside of their eye to assist the doctor in his examination of their ocular health, and that this is something we do on all of our patients because it is important in evaluating eye health.
Small Footprint in Office, Easy to Make Routine Part of Pre-Testing
Our optomap machine takes up about a 4 ft. x 3 ft. area including the area for the patient to stand. We keep it in the pre-testing room because we use it as a routine part of our pre-testing for every patient. Use of the optomap takes us 3-4 minutes from data entry to completion.
Part of Ongoing Advancements in Care
In the next couple of years we plan to implement a newer version of the optomap and would like to add OCT/optomap imaging as the technology refines.
Chris Butcher, OD, is the owner of Suncoast Eyecare with multiple locations throughout southwest Florida. To contact him: email@example.com