By Will Smith, OD
April 26, 2023
Contact lenses can greatly enhance the quality of your patients’ lives and your practice profitability. Here is how our practice maximizes the lifetime value of these patients to provide superior care while contributing significantly to our revenue per patient.
Visual Demands & Purchasing Behavior
A patient’s visual demands and purchasing behavior are the two most important factors impacting the lifetime value of a contact lens patient. Our approach to assessing a patient’s visual demands is first getting to know the patient. What keeps them busy throughout the week? What do they enjoy doing outside the office? How often would they like to enjoy good vision without spectacles? These questions help us determine which lens design best suits them.
Our practice largely fits daily disposable and specialty contact lenses. We firmly believe the daily disposable wear modality provides the healthiest and most comfortable way to wear a contact lens. Additionally, daily disposables have a higher profit margin, which helps build overall revenue. Specialty contact lenses serve a population very much in need of an effective solution. These patients have built-in purchase loyalty due to the custom nature of the process.
You have to take the long view when calculating the lifetime value of a contact lens patient. For example, a child starting out as a myope in contact lenses may choose to correct their vision with glasses and contact lenses, thus being a very valuable patient. Alternatively, this same patient may likely have laser corrective surgery in their twenties and not need vision correction again until their forties.
Then you have the patient who never experiences vision challenges until they are forty, but then find themselves in need of a premium multifocal contact lens due to ocular surface disease and visual demand.
Similar to investing young for retirement, it is likely the adolescent patient who will generate more lifetime value than the middle-aged patient with elevated challenges.
The ROI of Contact Lens Wear for Practices
John Rumpakis, OD, estimated the yearly value of a contact lens patient was $326. In further discussion he went on to talk about dropout with contact lens patients and estimated the lost revenue from each patient was $24,000, over a lifetime.1
In 2006, Ritson published results comparing the lifetime value of a contact lens wearer to a patient who only wears spectacles. This study was interesting because it showed the importance of loyalty. The first time you see a patient you may be investing more time and effort, with little payoff. Ritson goes on to show that contact lens wearers are much more profitable over a lifetime verses a spectacle-only patient.2
In our practice, the contact lens capture rate year-to-date is 70 percent, our annual supply rate year-to-date is 47 percent and our revenue per patient is $558. Our contact-lens capture rate is generated by our EHR system. It takes the number of patients with a contact-lens order and divides it by the number of patients with an authorized contact-lens Rx.
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Establish Trust with Your CL Patients
Trust is the most important thing a patient can receive from their doctor. Once this is instilled in the patient, loyalty naturally follows. If a patient perceives a doctor as simply trying to sell them a product, it may be met with distrust.
A good example of this may be a child who is new to our office. This child may be showing signs of myopia and may be an excellent candidate for a myopic control contact lens. However, if we are too pushy with this concept or product, the parent may feel it’s overreach, or worse, we may loose the patient.
Most of our new patients report they came to our practice because of our excellent reviews online. This tells me we must be going above and beyond for our patients, because it is easy to be unimpressive to patients.
Educate CL Patients About Options
We pride ourselves on presenting solutions for patients. This may mean we must order multiple trial contact lenses for patients to experience, and we are happy to do that.
Our staff does an excellent job of ordering trials in a timely manner. Sometimes this requires them to order directly through the manufacturer and not simply through distribution.
Our staff also is educated to help guide patients through their insurance benefits. We use calculators to assist patients with this.
Get Support from Your CL Vendors to Track Metrics & Improve
Our contact lens representatives provide metrics, which keep us up to date on how we’re doing financially. They send reminders and help us achieve revenue goals. Keeping trial product in stock is a must. Our reps understand we may need product in a timely manner, and fulfill this demand. We understand that each of us benefit from a great relationship. We have had some representatives for over 30 years.
An area of growing opportunity for us is annual supply sales. We have implemented a contact lens subscription service to better capture these patients.
We took notes on how big retailers minimize the friction when it comes to closing a sale. We also see the value in annuity and convenience for our patients.
The service we use easily creates an account for patients using our EHR system, step one…the most friction. Then, a breakdown of expected costs are shown to the patient including their discounts from insurance and manufacturer’s rebate. This provides transparency and helps the patient understand exactly what they are getting and what value. The most recent and finalized contact-lens prescription is then sent to our distributor and the contact lenses are directly shipped to the patient. If the patient does not purchase an annual supply at the time of examination, an e-mail or text reminder is sent for them to purchase.
Not only does this help with annual supply sales, it saves steps and time for our staff.
Bottom Line: Prescribing for the best interest of your patients will drive success. If you understand their visual demands and needs, and then create solutions for them, it’s a win-win. This creates loyalty, and will drive revenue.
1. Rumpakis JMB. New data on contact lens dropouts: an international perspective. Rev Optom. 2010;147:37-42
2. Ritson M. Which patients are more profitable? Contact Lens Spectrum. March 2006;38-42.