By Ally Stoeger, OD
In the world of patient satisfaction, things aren’t always what they seem. For example, most practice owners assume patients are more likely to appreciate having to pay half (or less) of their eyewear bill at the time of order, and the remainder at dispensing. But here’s why it’s a better experience for patients if eyewear fees are paid in full at the time of the order.
More fun. You’ll be enhancing the patient’s pleasure at the eyeglass dispense visit. It’s fun to pick up a new pair of glasses. Many patients express awe and joy with their new vision and their new glasses. Don’t allow that happiness to dissipate because they have to go to the front desk and hand over their credit card!
Commitment. Occasionally patients are unsure if they will be able to adjust to their new glasses. It is much easier to tell a patient, who has already paid in full, that it may be best to try the glasses for a few days, but that you will do whatever it takes to make them comfortable (Rx check, change in lens design, etc.); than it is to convince a patient that he or she should pay the rest of the balance on a pair of glasses they have doubts about. If you let a patient leave with a pair of half-paid glasses, you may never see the patient, or your balance. On the other hand, if you expect a patient to pay the balance on a pair of glasses they are uncertain about, you may end up with a tug-of-war at the front desk. If the patient refuses to take the glasses home to try them out, they will lose out on the opportunity to either adjust to their new glasses or to work with their doctor on finding the right fix for their problem.
Saves time. Patients may not mind taking time off work to come in for an eye exam, but they sure don’t want to take off work to pick up their eyewear. As a result, many patients pick up their new glasses during your busiest hours. If the patient picking up glasses does not have to check out at the front desk, you will improve the experience of that patient, as well as all of the other patients who will not have to sit through watching someone else have to be checked out before them. The less time patients spend at the front desk, the happier they are.
Multiple sales. Many practices provide specials for additional pairs of glasses. The right sunglasses or computer glasses have the capability of making your patient much more comfortable for driving or working. It’s easier to recommend that great pair of sunglasses or computer glasses if the patient does not have a balance left on the pair being dispensed.
Better cash flow. Not incurring losses involved in writing off bad debt will allow your office to give your staff raises and purchase better equipment. That will surely make patient care better!
Patients value their time and they value an efficient practice. Payment in full at the time of order is a win for your patients–a win for your staff–and a win for your practice.
Do you require patients to pay for eyewear in full at the time the order is placed? How do you find your payment process for eyeglasses affects the patient experience?
Ally Stoeger, OD, was a founding and managing partner of a multi-doctor practice and has recently opened a new practice in Gainesville, Va. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow Dr. Stoeger on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gheyedr.