By Dave Anderson, OD
This article is part of the six-part series, “Insights to Impact.” Articles in this series will detail the insights that 2020 taught optometry and how those insights translate to actions that are having a positive impact on the profession.
August 25, 2021
The Coronavirus pandemic caused emotional and financial distress for patients. Those challenges, by extension, were felt in our practices. Fortunately, we have been able to offer patients the ability to use the CareCredit credit card in our practice. This has made it easier for patients to pay for the care they need while helping the practice to recover financially. Here is how making CareCredit a part of our practice aids patients while boosting our per-patient revenue.
Making a Difference for Patients & Practice
Our overall revenue per patient is just under $500. By comparison, that number skews to over $600 per transaction for patients using a CareCredit credit card. The primary reason for this is patients who use CareCredit often use it for high-end services or products, such as advanced-care treatments for conditions like dry eye or for glasses with lens treatments that insurance doesn’t cover.
5 Insights to Impact
Offer a Solution for Both Patients & Practice. Patients are challenged during crises, as are practice finances. Giving patients the ability to pay over time with a CareCredit credit card makes it easier for patients to manage payment while bringing much-needed revenue into the practice.
Ensure Continuity of Care. Patient financing makes it simpler for patients to pay for the full treatment plan you have prescribed. During a stressful time, this makes it possible for patients to accommodate their eyecare health and vision needs at a time when they need it most.
Give Patients Greater Options. During stressful times, the more options and flexibility you can give patients in your office the better. Patient financing with the CareCredit credit card gives you the ability to do this for patients.
Educate Patients about the Value You Provide. The flexibility and options you offer patients won’t do any good if patients don’t know about it. Deliver training to help your staff communicate the value of the services and products you are delivering, including the ability to use patient financing in your office.
Encourage Support of Local Businesses. During hard times people often like to support those in their community. Offering the option to pay for services and products with a CareCredit credit card gives people in your community another reason to choose you over an online competitor.
Continue Being There for Patients in a Crisis
In addition to making it easier for patients to pay for services and products that are not covered by insurance, CareCredit eased the way for patients to continue paying us during the pandemic, when many had lost their jobs and insurance.
That help in paying for much-needed care and eyewear made a huge impact at a time when eyecare needs were increasing. For example, many patients found that they and their children needed computer glasses with blue light filtering to avoid eye strain and potential ocular damage from the longer-than-ever hours spent online.
Similarly, with masks causing glasses to fog, some patients realized that the pandemic was the perfect time to try contact lenses. CareCredit often helped these patients pay for an annual supply of the premium contact lenses that I felt would be the best option for them.
Along with a higher revenue per patient for those using a CareCredit credit card, we experienced an increase in eyewear capture rate during the pandemic. So many people had greater eyecare needs during this time that we saw an increase from our typical capture rate of around 50 percent to well over 60 percent in some months. At the same time, we saw much higher usage of CareCredit. Typically, we would see the use of CareCredit a few times a week, and for a short period last summer it was being used a few times a day.
Let Patients Know They Have Payment Options in Your Office
In my office, there are several ways and times that CareCredit may come up as a way to pay. Sometimes it comes up in the exam room when the need for moving a patient to daily disposable contacts arises, but the patient worries about the cost. CareCredit may be used to help them discover a way to go ahead with the best choice for their eyes. Staff will bring up the use of CareCredit to pay for the necessary second pair of glasses for computer use, or to pay for a full year supply of contacts to enable that patient to also benefit from manufacturer rebates. Another common time CareCredit comes up in conversation, with both doctors and staff, is when discussing treatments that are not covered by insurance such as meibomian gland treatments like TearCare® or MiBo Thermoflo®.
Train Staff to Educate Patients
We train staff on how to discuss patient financing to maximize the benefit of CareCredit for patients and our practice. We want patients to fully understand their payment options.
Our staff works with patients to review the details for the bill and how we arrived at the total amount they owe. We then have staff ask patients if they have a preferred method to pay for the bill on that day, with a script like this: “Mrs Smith, your total is $794 today. Do you have a preference for how you would like to pay for that? And in case you didn’t know, you can use your HSA or FSA card here for anything you purchase, and we also take the CareCredit credit card and all general purpose credit cards. Have you heard of CareCredit? It’s a great way to pay for health expenses. It allows you to pay overtime with convenient monthly payments* to help you get all you need today.”
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Make It Easier for Patients to Buy from a Local Business
We spoke to patients in the same way we always had about CareCredit during the pandemic, but we coupled that messaging with encouragement to shop local. We pointed out the many benefits of supporting a neighborhood business during such a turbulent time, including our ability to provide support after the product purchase and the opportunity to pay for purchases over time through use of a CareCredit credit card.
Make a Strong Pandemic Recovery More Likely
Our daily patient volume has returned mostly to what it was before the pandemic. However, we still have a slightly lower patient volume per day since we have fewer doctors in the office at a time to keep the flow reasonable and to allow for fewer patients in the reception area and optical. As such, it has been even more important to have a higher per patient revenue and higher capture rate.
Having a higher per patient revenue with CareCredit, and having the flexible option for patients to pay over time, has made patient financing an effective way to buoy our patient care and financial strength during trying times.
|Dave Anderson, OD, is a partner with Miamisburg Vision Care in Miamisburg, Ohio, and a partner with wEyes Guys Consulting and Chief Operating Officer with Optometric Management Group. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org|
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