This is the second in an ongoing series exploring the medical model as a business opportunity.
By Thomas F. Steiner
You have the opportunity to better serve patients, and greatly expand the scope of your practice, by offering medical eyecare. It may be time for your practice to measure the medical modelopportunity and make plans to roll out new services.
The previous article in this series showed that medical eyecare currently contributes a modest share of patient traffic and revenue in typical optometric practices. Most private ODs continue to derive more than 85 percentof revenue from eye exams and sales of corrective devices. Data gathered by the Management & Business Academy, an educational program sponsored by CIBA VISION and Essilor, suggests, however, that the revenue contribution of medical eyecare to optometric practices is slowly rising.
Most of the medical eyecare visits to OD offices are for treatments of four conditions: glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, ocular infection and ocular allergy. These account for 85 percentof medical visits.
The median number of annual medical eyecare visits per 1,000 active patients is just 68 in optometric practices. This number is equivalent to just 7 percentof active patients receiving medical eyecare treatment in a year, if no patients visit more than once for treatment. Because some patients do visit multiple times, the actual ratio of active patients receiving medical eyecare services is even lower than 7 percent.
Statistics on the incidence of ocular conditions in the adult population suggest that typical ODs are treating only a small percentage of patients with ocular allergies and dry eye syndrome. An office with 5,000 active patients might be expected to have 1,350 patients suffering ocular allergy symptoms. But ODs in practices of this size report a median of just 60 annual patient visits to treat ocular allergies. For dry eye syndrome, an office with 5,000 active patients is expected to have 500 candidates for dry eye treatment, but just 75 patients receive it annually in typical practices.
These data suggest that there is a sizeable revenue opportunity for ODs to increase medical eyecare treatments by implementing processes to identify patients suffering from treatable conditions and making them aware of the treatment options. Based on the share of revenue derived from medical eyecare in practices emphasizing this service, typical optometric practices have the potential to increase medical eyecare revenue threefold or more.
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Thomas F. Steiner has spent 26 years helping eyecare practices succeed, including pioneering the introduction of color contact lenses into optometry. He currently is a consultant withPractice Advancement Associates, a division of Jobson’s Professional Publications Group. To contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org