Medical Model

Nutritional Supplements: Good for Your Patients–and Practice Revenues

Sam R. Silverblatt, OD

SYNOPSIS

Nutritional supplements provide your patients with nutrients that can help prevent eye disease, and can provide your practice with an additional revenue stream.

ACTION POINTS

SMALL TIME INVESTMENT, PROFITABILITY. Five to 10 minutes to register patients online and at least $500-$1,000 per month in profit.

HAVE CONVERSATION WITH PATIENTS. Explain the role nutrition plays in reducing macular degeneration risk, and how nutraceuticals can give you some of those nutrients.

INVEST IN COMPLEMENTARY TESTING. Genetic testing is now available at no cost to your practice. The results can encourage better diet and use of nutraceuticals.

A diet high in leafy green vegetables like kale, along with fruits like blueberries and whole grains, has been shown to help prevent eye diseases like macular degeneration. The challenge is that many patients are not disciplined about getting adequate servings of such foods. For that reason, I started prescribing Juice Plus+, a supplement that includes juice powder concentrates from 25 different fruits, vegetables and grains.

Small Time Investment, Profit

I enroll patients online for Juice Plus+, inputting their name, address and billing information, and every time they make a purchase, I get a percentage of the profit. The profit per month has been enough to pay my monthly mortgage, and enough to finance a recent renovation to my house. It is easy to make at least $500-$1,000 per month, net, just by enrolling patients to take this supplement. Other than inputting the patient’s information into the Juice Plus+ site, which takes no more than five minutes per patient, no resources or inventory investment is required from the doctor. Juice Plus+ does the rest including billing and shipping. They are one of the easiest, most accommodating companies I deal with. Currently 130 of my patients are enrolled to receive Juice Plus+. They get shipped the the nutraceutical three times a year. Every time it is shipped, I get paid. I’m making money everyday, even when I’m not working.

A poster from the Juice Plus+ nutraceutical company, which Dr. Silverblatt has up in his office to educate patients about the need for proper nutrition.

OD Only Doctor Many Patients See

Many patients, especially those wearing contact lenses, see their eye doctor annually, while not seeing their primary care doctor for years at a time. That means it’s up to us to educate patients about the benefits of a healthy diet–especially since a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to be beneficial to eye health. A healthy body gives you the best chance to have healthy eyes. The retina creates one of the highest demands for oxygen in the body, setting it up for oxidative stress. Reducing oxidative stress in your body will help prevent degeneration in your retina. That oxidative stress can be reduced with proper nutrition.

Juice Plus+ is the only nutrition product in the world with over 30 peer-reviewed published medical studies supporting positive health benefits.

Have Conversation with Patients

We use Optos retinal imaging with all patients. When I review the patient’s retina photos with them, I ask if they are familiar with macular degeneration. This leads me to nutrition prevention education. I list the healthy habits–including nutritious diet–that give them the best chance of minimizing the damage from oxidative stress in the retina and their chances of developing macular degeneration. When an overweight smoker is in my chair, it is no secret that their primary care doctor has already discussed this with them. I relate what the unhealthy lifestyle could do to their vision. I might ask: “Do you want to live long enough and have good vision to see your grandchildren?” From there, I explain the role diet (along with quitting smoking and losing weight) plays in keeping their eyes healthy, and educate them about the Juice Plus+ program.

When I started discussing nutrition with patients many years ago, I “hand picked” them based on age and known health risks such as diabetes or family history. I now discuss healthy lifestyle with all my patients. Everybody needs and wants good health.

An educational poster from the American Cancer Society that Dr. Silverblatt has put up in his office for patients to understand the role nutrition plays in their overall–and eye–health.

Educate Staff to Back Up Your Recommendation

I continually educate our staff about embracing a healthy lifestyle. One of our staff members is a certified personal trainer. She gives us nutrition and exercise tips every week. She and our other staff members are able to reiterate to patients the importance of good diet and exercise to their overall health, including their eyes.

Implement Complementary Testing

We recently implemented The Macula Risk PGx, AMD Genetic Testing. Macula Risk PGx is a combined prognostic and pharmacogenetic DNA test designed to determine a patient’s risk of progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and aid in the selection of appropriate eye vitamin formulations for AMD based on his or her individual genetic risk profile.

The Macula Risk PGx, AMD Genetic Testing company provides you with all the supplies including pre-paid mailing labels and envelopes. You swab the inside of your patient’s cheek in your office and then send the sample to the company to analyze and send back results. Youand your staff’s time–just five to 10 minutes per patient–is the only expense. There is no direct profit from offering this test, but it backs up your prescription for nutraceuticals when you can show scientific results estimating a patient’s risk of developing AMD, and the nutraceuticals that can help minimize that risk.

There is no charge to the doctor for the test, and from what I’ve seen, as long as the patient has insurance, 100 percent of the test’s cost is covered. It’s a $700-$800 test, but patient only pays $25 with most insurance plans. The patient learns their risk of developing macular degeneration and which kinds of nutritional supplements can help them.

Related ROB Articles

Nutritional Supplements: Practice Preventative Eyecare

Meet the Growing Challenge: Treating Macular Degeneration

Educate Patients on Preventative Eyecare

Sam R. Silverblatt, OD, is the owner of a self-named practice in Shreveport, La. To contact him: eyedocjoc@aol.com

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