WELCOME TO the “Corporate O.D.” column! I’ll be providing “how-to” tips for those in corporate optometry. Corporate O.D.s face many of the same practice management challenges as independent eye care professionals: They must be adroit with medical billing, efficient in scheduling patients and excellent in patient retention.
Here, I discuss how to incorporate these revenue streams.
Doctors who have embraced the medical model in their offices, through patient education, investment in diagnostic equipment and treatment of eye disease, will be able to grow their practice revenue and increase patient retention.
For example, dry eye disease (DED) can be incorporated in your practice without a large investment. A large population of patients report symptoms of DED (3.2 million and 1.68 million women and men, respectively, age 50 and older, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology). These patients are typically seen 2x to 3x a year, with an average exam reimbursing $60 to $80, depending on the level of exam and amount of time taken. Ensure that these patients’ needs are being met in your practice.
In corporate settings, walk-in appointments are common. To see four scheduled, complete eye exam patients in an hour and accommodate walk-in patients, schedule established patients during the off-peak hours of the week. Typically, these exams take less time.
For example, at my practice we attempt to leave patient slots open after 4 p.m. during the week, so we can accommodate walk-ins. On Saturdays, which are packed with walk-ins from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., we schedule established patients from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. After 11 a.m., we schedule two to three patient visits per hour, allowing time for potential walk-ins, or to catch up, when necessary.
Corporate optometry can enjoy national brand recognition if, for example, a patient visits your area and is in need of an optometrist. Specifically, he or she may walk in to a well-known optical. However, this is temporary revenue.
An O.D. who works for or partners with a commercial setting. The O.D. can be an independent contractor, employee or sublease O.D. in this setting. Some examples of corporate opticals: Luxottica, National Vision, Walmart and US Vision. Traditionally, the O.D. runs an independent business next to the optical, though the O.D. could also be an employee or a franchisee. Regulations vary among states and companies. The doctor provides the eye exam services and is not able to sell any optical goods.
At my practice, we have a retention rate of 43%, although the average in a corporate setting is 25%, according to Luxottica. About 15% of corporate patients will move to a different setting from year to year. One way to retain patients comes back to practicing the medical model to meet patients’ needs.
Developing skills associated with medical billing, patient scheduling and retention enhance the revenue streams of all optometrists. Stay tuned for more practice management tips! OM