Practice Management

The Patient Conversations that Built an Aesthetic Optometry Practice that Grew 10% in 2 Years

The Premier Eye Spa in Dr. Davison’s office, where patients receive dry eye and aesthetic treatments. She says the aesthetic optometry sector of her practice is on track to generate 30 percent of her total practice revenues by 2024.

By Janelle Davison, OD

Dec. 14, 2022

Aesthetic optometry can greatly enhance quality of life, enabling a patient to look as good as they feel. With some dry eye treatments, such as intense pulse light (IPL), having aesthetic side benefits, patients often leave our office with both their dry eye and the look of their skin improved.

My goal is for dry eye and aesthetic optometry to contribute to 30 percent of total practice revenue. I really love determining the root causes of my patient’s ocular discomfort and getting them on the road to younger-looking, clearer, whiter eyes. We all want to age with grace.

This sector has grown tremendously over the last few years, despite the pandemic and now inflation. My goal in 2020 was for this sector of my practice, (coupled with my advanced dry eye services) to make up 10 percent of practice revenues. Implementation in the beginning was challenging, and we got off to a slow start. However, aesthetics + dry eye from 2020 until Q2 2022 grew from roughly 5 percent of the practice revenue to roughly 15 percent. I plan to double that by the end of 2024.

“What Makeup and Skincare Products Do You Use on Your Face?”
It is important for your patients to understand that anything they put in or around their eyes could impact the health of their eyes.

Help Your Patients Love their Eyes

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Loving your eyes means loving both how they feel and look. An OD is in a prime position to help with both of those things. First, however your patients have to understand the solutions you offer along with how they can conveniently access them.

Introducing patient financing via the CareCredit credit card gives you a great springboard to discuss access to treatment. “Joan, IPL treatment can help alleviate your dry eye and improve the look of your skin. The total cost is $XXX. While insurance does not cover this treatment, we do accept the CareCredit credit card. Would you like to see what your estimated monthly payment may be if you were to take advantage of a CareCredit flexible financing option?”

Offering patients a way to pay over time is a simple way to help increase treatment acceptance and patient satisfaction. Patients leave your office feeling grateful that you were able to help them move forward with the services they need and want.–ROB Editors

I typically tell the patient that the eyeball, as well as the skin and tissue around the eyes, is my domain. I want to address the health and preventative care for the entire eye and skin around the eye. I encourage them to ask me questions regarding safe alternatives to dangerous makeup trends, thinning lashes, excessive red eyes, periorbital wrinkles and dark circles. Comprehensive care includes aesthetics of the eye, I let them know.

Aesthetic products we sell in-office, or have affiliate relationships with, in which we get a percentage of each sale of a product I prescribed, include: twenty/twenty beauty, OCuSOFT Zoria Cosmetics, Eyes Are The Story, Oculaire and We Love Eyes. We offer Upneeq as a solution to droopy eyelids, which serves both a medical and aesthetic purpose, as do the new presbyopia eye drops, Vuity. We market both solutions under an “anti-aging” banner.

“Are You Interested in Learning More About Non-Surgical Ways to Improve Feel & Look Of Your Eyes?”
I want patients to leave my practice both seeing and feeling better. “Eye care is self-care,” is one of our mottoes.

Most patients don’t know what aesthetic optometry means. They just know they don’t like something about how their eyes look or feel and they want our advice and help.

I let these patients know about our Premier Eye Spa, where we do advanced dry eye treatment using ThermaEye Plus intense pulse light (IPL), TearCare and MiBo Thermoflo heat treatments and eyelid cleaning, and in the past we had an esthetician come in twice a week to do facials, brow waxing and lash extensions.

To create a true spa atmosphere, we invested in a reclining chair that can be lowered all the way down so a patient can lie flat when needed. We also added a towel warmer rack, and bring snacks and water in for the patient.

I do all the medically oriented treatments for dry eye. In the past, an esthetician, who was an independent contractor with us, but was not on our regular payroll, came in when I was not in the office to do to facials, brow waxing and lash extension procedures. I used a profit-sharing arrangement with the esthetician so that she got 50 percent of the profits from her work in my office and I got 50 percent. She also got to keep 100 percent of her tips.

“How Can We Help You Achieve Your Goals for Your Eyes?”
Many patients are still getting use to the idea of their eye doctor having conversations about anti-aging, skincare, makeup and other aesthetic services, so it’s important to ask directly about what patients want for the way their eyes feel and look. You must learn how to properly survey your patients to really understand and elicit a specific problem(s) you can address.

Start asking probing questions during the pretesting process and during the examination. Dig deeper to provide a solution for your patients. “Is there anything you would change about how your eyes look or feel if you could?” you might ask a patient. When the patient tells me they are concerned about their droopy eyelids, I educate them about Upneeq. If they tell me their eyes are now more uncomfortable due to added dryness, and at the same time, don’t look as good as they used to, with signs of aging appearing on the surrounding skin, I tell them about the potential for IPL in our eye spa to help improve both issues.

I make sure to provide advice, options, and make it simple, for patients to gain access to recommended products (which we sell in our optical or e-prescribe). We also make a point of putting on display information about the aesthetic services we offer and the products we sell for aesthetic concerns.

We then go the extra mile and make sure patients understand how to access the services and products we offer. My job is to educate and provide the best treatment plan for each patient. To help with financial constraints, we offer the ability to use the CareCredit credit card in our office, along with several other payment options. I want to do all I can to enable patients to receive the services and treatments I have discussed with them as solutions. Most patients understand that 99 percent of advanced dry eye treatments and aesthetics services are an out-pocket expense, and often welcome the conversation around patient financing and other ways to make the care they seek more obtainable.

Being able to both educate patients, and offer ways to make payment more doable, is key to building a thriving aesthetic optometry practice that is primed for long-term growth.

Janelle Davison, OD, is the owner of Brilliant Eyes Vision Center in Smyrna, Ga. To contact her: info@brillianteyesvisioncenter.com

 

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