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The Hidden Opportunity with Private Pay Patients

07/18/2019

How many private pay opportunities do you have each day?

With so many of your patients now covered by vision care plans, you would probably say, not many. I could ask you to look at the percentage of patients you see in each plan, I could ask you what percentage of patients are private pay. But instead I will ask, how many refractions do you perform each day? Virtually, every one of those refractions have the potential to be a private pay purchase. The sunglasses purchased by a contact lens wearer after using vision care benefits for their lenses is a private pay purchase. The second pair as computer glasses purchased by a progressive wearer is a private pay purchase. The prescription sunglasses purchased by a patient in addition to the single vision eyeglasses they ordered with their benefits is a private pay purchase.

Actively seeking to understand the needs of your patients beyond that first product covered by their plan is our responsibility as eye care professionals. Most vision care plans only offset the cost for one pair of eyeglasses or a supply of contact lenses. As eyecare professionals, we know that one pair of eyeglasses will rarely, if ever, address all our patient’s needs. We must not be shy about making the recommendations and writing the orders for these additional pairs.

If we fail to suggest appropriate products, these additional needs may be met by an online retailer or a merchant at the mall. People shop outside our office for several reasons including:

  • Convenience
  • Price
  • Impulse vs. Information

We can address each of these reasons and not only compete, but completely outperform these other outlets, keeping our patients happy while producing additional revenue for the practice.

Convenience

If we provide clear, simple pricing and make the selection process fun and engaging we save them the shopping trips, the uncertainty and risks involved in ordering glasses from anyone other than you. You are their trusted eye care provider; they are predisposed to give you their business if they feel that you respect their time and have the same passion for the final product as you have in getting the prescription right. You need to make the point that it is far more convenient to be fit now, today, by professionals that care about all of their optical product needs.

Price

Most consumers are not looking strictly at price, but at value. Consumers are very put off when they get the sense that you have a complicated pricing system that is a complete mystery to them. Adopt package pricing that simplifies the sales process and provides transparency, especially for the products they will pay for themselves, after benefits have been used. These packages do not have to match the competitors’ unrealistic offers dollar for dollar, as long as the case is made for the value of the products and services provided.

Impulse vs. Information

If you, meaning you personally as the doctor, your receptionist, technicians, opticians, fail to educate the patient about the vast array of options available to them, someone else will, and they will make the sale. You will never know the number of people you may have lost if they found out through another source (retailer) that there are glasses available for computer use or hobbies, that different sunglass lens colors have different benefits and uses. The merchant or optical retailer that they casually stopped to talk to educates them and offers these solutions. They will have gained their trust and future business, you may not see them back, even for exams. You never want them to have to say, “My eye doctor/optician never told me this was an option!” And, by the way, they paid for these additional pairs out of pocket.

Many times, we may be reluctant to offer these product solutions, assuming we will be perceived as pushy. There is no element of overselling if you are making your recommendations based on determining their unique needs by asking lifestyle questions. These conversations may take several more minutes but provide the opportunity to offer greater comfort for a patient’s everyday activities.

Pat Basile

CT LO, NCLEC, ABOC

IDOC Optical Management Consultant

https://meetme.so/PatBasile

AUTHOR

IDOC Optometry - Color Bar
Patricia Basile

Patricia Basile

Pat Basile has extensive experience in customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has worked in both the large chain stores and in private practices. This gives her a unique perspective in knowing the competition and how best to survive the competitive era that we find ourselves in. She firmly believes that the consumer is much better served at the small, independent and caring optical practice, where they deliver more personal attention to the details that are so important to ensure that a great eye exam is followed by providing excellent eyewear. Pat will listen to your concerns, help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include setting goals, training optical staff, inventory control and product mix.