By Michael Cymbor, OD, FAAO
Sept. 11, 2019
Today’s patients are more informed about the need for comprehensive eyecare that includes advanced diagnostic and monitoring services. It is now a common patient expectation for doctors to go beyond disease management to providing preemptive wellness care.
My five-location practice has invested in technology that allows us to do just that–to provide wellness services that emphasize our role as medical eyecare specialists while generating more than $12,000 per month in additional revenues.
The game changer for us in providing a wellness experience came at the beginning of this year when we invested in multiple Optovue iVue OCT systems.
Providing Next-Generation Care
We were already familiar with the boost to a medical eyecare practice that the right technology could make as we had added the Optovue Avanti® Widefield OCT a few years ago. Although that model had a Wellness exam, our practice was using the system exclusively for medical testing. The revenue from the medical scans allowed us to quickly pay off the loan and begin generating more than $5,000 in profit per month.
We had other advanced technology, such as an Optomap®, but the Avanti took our patient care to the next level. We became increasingly known as the leading provider of ocular disease diagnosis and management. This instrument was being used all day, every day.
With such success, we were excited to add another Optovue instrument to our practice. Since we already had Optovue’s premier OCT platform, we decided to go with the more economical iVue system for our additional units. This system features the Wellness scan in which both the macula and ganglion cell complex of the eye are imaged. This high-level imaging allows us to assess patients for macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema, epiretinal membranes and glaucoma.
Wellness Testing for All Patients
The power and accessibility of the iVue has enabled us to create a strong Wellness program in which we recommend that all patients get tested for a $25 out-of-pocket fee. We also offer a bundled Wellness package in which patients can have imaging from the iVue and the Optomap for $50. Most of our patients do not balk at the out-of-pocket fee. In fact, they usually request the Wellness test after the technician explains the many conditions that can be detected at stages early enough to avoid vision impairment or loss.
We can bill patient insurance for iVue medical scans in cases where potential pathology has been detected on the Wellness test and the doctor feels more in-depth imaging is required.
Our ability to diagnose early-stage glaucoma has been significantly improved. I have over 20 years of experience diagnosing and managing glaucoma, and I am co-director of the Glaucoma Institute at State College. I was surprised by the number of glaucoma cases I detected using the iVue OCT in our Wellness program. In more than a handful of cases, a patient whom I had not identified as a glaucoma suspect did indeed have early signs of the disease.
Train Support Staff to Bolster Wellness Program
Our technicians are key to educating patients during pre-testing about why they should take advantage of the opportunity to get a Wellness scan.
Initially the technicians with the highest patient acceptance rates were those who had experience educating patients about testing with the Optomap, so we used the expertise of those technicians to educate the rest of the staff about the best way to explain the benefits of the Wellness scan to patients. The most successful staff members stressed the importance of approaching the conversation in a non-aggressive, informative way.
Thanks to this internal staff education, all of our technicians now do a great job of encouraging patients to get a Wellness scan and take advantage of the full benefits of our Wellness program.
Market Your Wellness Program
We have a large TV in our reception area with videos about eye health and our services playing in a loop. One aspect of medical eyecare which these videos address is how we assess patients for eye disease. There is a segment about the iVue OCT and the Wellness scan.
In addition to the information our technicians provide to patients during pre-testing, patients hear about the option for a Wellness scan from the front-desk receptionists when they check in for their appointment.
Complementing our in-office marketing are posts to our practice social media pages about our Wellness package and the advanced technology in our office.
Patients know our office is the place to come for high-level medical diagnostic services and long-term care to keep their eyes healthy into the future.