How to use patient experiences to improve profitability

Forces in the eye care market make efficiency and the patient experience more important than ever due to private equity consolidation, erosion of retail eye care due to online eyeglass and contact lens retailers, COVID-19, changing consumer demands, and regulatory changes.

Coming out of COVID, capacity constraints and increased costs due to PPE made apparent how important it is for the businesses to minimize appointment cancellations, rescheduling, and no-shows, while preferentially getting in patients that disproportionately support the practice business. Some ODs have even dropped lower-reimbursing vision plans. There is value in rating patients, effectively turning the tables of patient rating doctors. Yet this has to be performed in a HIPAA compliant manner, whereas due to CDA Section 230 the opposite does not apply for patients rating doctors and their clinics. A good start for patient ratings creating a “scheduling reliability” rating. This concept will be explored in this webinar.

There are other opportunities to create something analogous to an “Uber rating” of each patient, expanding to out-of-pocket expenditures, number of patients referred in, and patients that are net promoters of the practice. These go above and beyond traditional practice metrics such as capture rate, revenue per patient.

For patients with low on-time reliability, put them on a “priority call list”, i.e. no appointments in advance offering them only an appointment if there is a last minute cancellation or rescheduling. It allows for the staff to intelligently schedule, e.g. double book patients with lower reliability.

Using predictive analytics to gauge patient purchase behavior, e.g. when known to run out of disposable contact lenses so that the patient can be reached specifically at this moment in time, or after a new CL Rxing the inherent demand to purchase non Rx sunglasses. Taking advantage of the concept of Kairos.

Along the theme of managing the patient experience, there are other tips. Keep the small promises so that when there is a leap of faith (expensive eyeglass purchase), there is greater credibility. Semantics and communication to drive the perceived experience: Progress visits vs. follow-ups, managing visual expectations with contact lens visits and laser vision correction. Start with UCVA and BSCVA rather than threshold visual acuities. Rather than asking, “Are you having any problems”, ask, “Are you enjoying the freedom of not wearing glasses?” Facilitating the patient-doctor handoff is important for maximal capture rate / adherence to treatment — consider using wireless doorbells rather than expensive and sophisticated visual paging systems, to facilitate needs-based sales (aka “doctor-driven dispensing”).

The broad analogy is tending the practice as if it were a garden. While one cannot always discharge a bad patient (pulling out the weed), one can direct time and attention to nurture the good patients much in the same way the flowers get extra water, fertilizer, and sunlight, to crowd out the weeds. These desirable patients are more likely to refer in family and friends, who are likely to share that same disposition (i.e. “birds of a feather flock together”)

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About the Speaker

Dr. Brian Chou

Dr. Brian Chou, OD, FAAO, FSLS directs a referral-based keratoconus and scleral lens clinic at ReVision Optometry in San Diego, CA. He earned his optometry degree at UC Berkeley in 1999 and subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the corneal-external disease division at Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Chou serves on editorial review boards for Review of Optometry and Review of Cornea & Contact Lenses. He is a consultant and investigator for start-up ventures developing a contact lens-enabling augmented reality system and a contact lens for underwater vision.

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