The Managed Care Conundrum

Are you making the most of your specialty testing? Eric White, O.D., offers tips for maximizing services + revenue.

The last article in this series on the conundrum of managed care and how to make money with it dealt with my favorite topic: doctor-driven dispensing [see EB’s Jan./Feb. issue]. This month, I’m addressing the importance of specialty testing as an additional revenue source for your business and as a way to practice better in today’s world.

WHY SPECIALTY TESTING? Carl Hillier, O.D., FCOVD, a great friend and colleague in San Diego, has a wonderful practice in behavioral optometry and he does a tremendous amount of visual therapy. This type of specialty practice is not only a worthwhile way to help patients live their lives better, but it also provides him a way to be successful in today’s managed care market. Specialties with similar results include low vision and sports vision. I practice general optometry, but my specialty is more in contact lenses.

OPTIMIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT. I feel the OCT is one of the best computers I have in my office. It sets my practice apart and helps to reduce my risk of missing something in my patients’ health. In my office, we screen everyone over age 18, but then I take the time to go over the scan with them. The “wow” factor is always a practice-builder, and the OCT definitely has this. Plus, if we see something, we can bring the patient back for a more in-depth test and charge the insurance company for it.

There is plenty of other equipment that can bring more revenue to the practice. The key is educating patients about the need to watch for certain conditions, why you’re having them back for a follow-up, and that there will be an additional charge for it.

CHARGE FOR YOUR SERVICES. ALL OF THEM. Optometrists have always had a tendency to give away our services. Don’t be afraid to charge patients for follow-up care. No other professional gives as much away as we do. When is the last time you called an attorney for advice and didn’t get charged? Our time is not worthless. Add up those “freebie” office visits and you will be amazed at the revenue lost. In our office, we hand every patient a “fee slip” when they come in. It makes it easy to charge for the office visit.

Next Up. My next article will focus on specialty lenses—a market that is absolutely ripe for the (revenue) picking.