The decision to sell nutraceuticals helped one practice provide better care and generate higher profitability.
By Megan Booher
August 9, 2023
Nutraceuticals have been proven to be beneficial to patients’ eye health, especially patients at risk for, or already diagnosed with, macular degeneration, and for other patients as well.
We provide EyePromise and MacuHealth supplements to patients. These eye vitamins can treat symptoms from diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinal health, dry eye, vitreous health and floaters, extended electronic screen time, and there are even options to just improve overall eye health!
Here is how we prescribe and sell these supplements to our patients to help them while creating an additional revenue stream.
Selling Products that Elevate Patient Care
We typically spend $10,000-$20,000 annually on nutraceutical inventory, depending on patient compliance. Patient compliance ultimately determines the quantity of products we purchase.
When patients feel they are receiving quality care from their provider, they are more likely to fulfill the treatments which their provider recommends, including nutraceuticals. This creates a basis for the patient to continue purchasing these supplements from our office, enabling us to receive a portion of the profit from them buying directly from our stock.
Our belief is that products such as these can provide patients with the best vision possible for as long as possible. Nutraceuticals give us the ability to invest further in our patients’ eye health while growing our practice.
We are currently on track to sell $140,000 in supplements by the end of 2023!
Make It Easy to Showcase & Patients to Purchase
We store our nutraceuticals in a filing cabinet in one of our pretest rooms that is not used often. We have labeled all the drawers to correlate with the specific types of eye health products we carry. We also keep a small two-drawer filing cabinet at the front desk where we keep a surplus of nutraceuticals for the convenience and efficiency of our patient coordinators. In addition to the filing cabinet at the front desk, we have a display case out front that showcases our most commonly prescribed eye health products.
Allowing patients to view our products firsthand optimizes our patient coordinators’ time with them. Instead of taking time to search the patient’s previous records, or messaging the doctor to see which supplement they had previously purchased or was recommended, the patient can view our display case and inform our staff which option they need to purchase. We tend to only keep a one month’s supply of inventory in our office stock due to space constraints.
The nutraceutical companies we buy inventory from have arranged a program with us called Auto-Refill. Patients can receive a 90-day supply of their specific nutraceutical in the mail without requiring them to leave the comfort of their own homes! To enroll, patients must provide a valid debit or credit card for billing purposes, as well as an e-mail and mailing address. The neutraceutical company bills the card on file and sends the shipment directly to the patient’s mailing address documented. We receive approximately $20 for each 90-day supply that is auto-refilled!
Train Staff to Support Nutraceutical Sales
Our staff is trained by the nutraceutical representatives in how to promote their specific products and what needs to be addressed in conversation with patients. There are key points that we bring to the patient’s attention when we are reinforcing the doctor’s recommendation. We focus on the dosage, why the doctor is recommending this product, how the product can stabilize or improve the condition that is being treated, pricing and quantity for purchase.
We also provide nutritional information to the patient upon request, which we make sure our staff is educated on. Emphasizing how compliance can help the patient retain the most nutrients possible from their supplements is another method to ensure that patients consume the supplements in a way that benefits them the most.
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The staff in our office do not sell supplements without our provider’s prior recommendation or approval, so the minimal efforts that we exhaust to promote these products are through brochures and social media posts by our manager.
Consulting with one of our providers gave me insight into why and when he recommends supplements for patients and how he may decide this. He discussed the different testing and methods used to determine which supplements a patient should take. The providers determine the best treatment for the patient through testing such as MPOD, Diopsys VEP/ERG, TearLab and beyond.
There are also studies that supply us with guidelines for a standard of care for certain patients with specific conditions. Two studies that the provider told me they use as resources are the AREDS study for macular degeneration and the DEWS workshop for dry eye. Genetic studies can also show whether a particular option would offer the best benefit to the patient based on which genes are linked to the different nutrients in the supplement.
Our doctors focus on the medical side of optometry as much as the visual, and we strive to make appointments the best experience possible for our patients. Our providers believe in preventative care, as well as compliance with regular treatments, which is why nutraceuticals benefit our practice so much and why we have so many patients who regularly purchase these supplements from our office!