By Jason Schmit, OD
Offer lubricating eye drops as part of a treatment plan for dry eye and LASIK co-management patients. Patients enjoy convenience and avoid brand confusion at retail outlets, while your practice adds a new revenue stream.
Avoid Patient Scavenger Hunt:
Provide Dry Eye Treatment Package In-Office
Optometrists too often make the mistake of sending their patients on a scavenger hunt for the components of their dry eye prescription.
You can offer your patients an invaluable service by providing right in your office the medications, such as lubricating eye drops, that you prescribe.
Your patients will appreciate the complete services you have provided and the elimination of brand confusion at the drug store.
With managed care providers dictating the cost of many of our services and keeping reimbursement lower than we like, finding new streams of revenue is essential. Last year, my company, Lasik Plus, which operates 53 centers across the country to prepare patients for and deliver LASIK corrective surgery, began selling the same Blink Tears lubricating eye drops that ODs have been giving away for years. My partners and I looked at all the brand-name eye drop samples we gave to patients while directing them to the nearest pharmacy, and decided we could offer patients a service.
Instead of giving patients a prescription to hunt on their own for the eye drops, we could offer exactly what they needed right in our office. In the process, we also could build revenues. We made more than $500,000 from selling these drops in just one year. We did that by selling $19,200 more in eye drops at each of our 53 locations last year.
Sell Branded Eye Drops for Slightly More than Pharmacy
On average, the lubricating drops we sell cost $10 to $15 in a pharmacy. In exchange for the patient’s convenience and the added sense of security that comes from getting the drops directly from us, we sell the product for slightly more than that.
Keep Inventory Simple
We only invest in selling one brand of eye drops in three different versions–preserve, non-preserve and gel. As cited, we sell about 100 bottles per month, with our supply drop-ship from the manufacturer kicking in when our one-month supply is at 50 percent.
Doctor Prescribed and Sold
Like eyeglasses, contact lenses or any other product you would prescribe for a patient, it is best when selling eye drops to write down your prescription, and hand it to the patient or to the person who will conduct the transaction. Since most of our patients opt for LASIK procedures, we make the eye drops a standard part of the preoperative and postoperative regimen for every patient. This is an approach that any OD who has a LASIK co-management specialty can emulate. It also works if you are able to make the eye drops you sell a standard part of a treatment plan for patients with dry eye.
Enable Patients to Use Flex-Spending Dollars on Drops
Be sure to write out a prescription for the eye drops so patients can use their flex-spending account dollars to pay for them. When you hand the patient off to the front desk for check out and purchase of the drops, remind them that they can use their FSA dollars.
Display at Front Desk
Make sure all of your patients know they can purchase eye drops from you–and can use their FSA dollars to do so–with a product display at your front desk and a sign that explains the product and the ability to use FSA.
Prescribe Eye Drops and Hand Off to Make Purchase
Just as you should do when selling eyeglasses or contact lenses, it is important to set the stage for the purchase of eye drops. Prescribe the drops in the exam room and hand off to the person the patient will purchase the drops from.
Doctor: “Stephanie, I think in addition to the rest of the regimen I have prescribed, eye drops would make you more comfortable.”
Patient: “Oh, OK, well, I guess I’ll just pick some up on the way home from work tomorrow.”
Doctor: “Actually, for your convenience and eye health, we sell them right here in the office. I’m going to give this Rx to Sandy, in our dispensary, who can help you with this.”
Patient: “No offense, but I can probably get them cheaper at the drug store.”
Doctor: “I am prescribing the specific brand we sell in this office. If you buy from us today you’ll know you have the exact kind of eye drops I have prescribed for you–without having to make any extra stops on your way home from work. Plus, you can use your flex-spending account dollars to buy it.”
Patients: “Well, maybe you have a point. If I need a specific type, I guess it would just be easier to get them from you before I leave today.”
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Jason Schmit, OD, is vice-president of Optometric Affairs and Strategic Initiatives for LCA-Vision/Lasik Plus and Visium Eye Institute. Dr. Schmit previously practiced optometry for 14 years. To contact him: email@example.com