If you want to boost your optical’s capture rate and boost your profit margins overall, you and your staff should pay special attention to the moment when the patient moves from the clinical side to the optical side of your practice.
This moment is a critcal communication event that many practices bungle repeatedly, losing revenue to big box opticals, online options, and other sources. If your optical is first rate, everyone loses out because no one can serve your patient as well as your staff.
For seamless transitions sure to increase your capture rate, follow these tips from Diane Drake, a 30-year optical veteran and speaker at SECO2016:
1. Doctors should physically escort their patients to the retail optical area. This signals to the patient that the doctor (whose opinion they trust and respect) endorses the optical as an essential part of the vision care process. Don’t underestimate “the power of the white coat,” quips Drake.
2. Introduce the patient by name to the optician or optical staff, mentioning the staff member’s credentials when appropriate, Drake recommends. This validates your staff as experts in the mind of the patient, and helps them view the optical as an integral component of their appointment, rather than just a sales area.
Tip: Some “old school” doctors still use terms like “one of the girls,” optical managers observe. This language reduces capture rate because it implies your optical staff is a passle of unseasoned, frivilous folks the patient can find anywhere—including the big box optical down the street. Language that describes your optical staff as professionals will boost capture rate.
3. Summarize your clinical findings and discuss your recommendations for eyewear. This allows the patient and optician to incorporate your advice when choosing lenses and frames. Don’t interpret this as a sales pitch, warns Drake. While many doctors are uncomfortable with selling, the reality is that a diagnosis is only as good as its treatment.
Tip: If your practice’s patient flow plan doesn’t involve doctors walking patients into the optical, there are other ways your practice’s “white coats” can effectively communicate your optical’s credibility.
Some practices have doctors carry pagers in their pockets. As the doctor is wrapping up the clinical portion of the visit, he or she silently pages the optical, introduces the staffer who appears, and briefly outlines what the optical staff can do to help the patient see better.
Other practices use “super-techs” to accomplish similar goals, says Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, who presented the concept at Vision Expo East. The tech gets the patient from the waiting room at the beginning of the appointment, does the work up, and remains with the doctor as an EHR scribe, which builds trust. As the clinical portion wraps up, the doctor and super-tech briefly discuss one or two key things the optical has that could benefit the patient (see step 3 above). The super-tech then walks the patient to the optical and introduces her to optical staff.