An Overview: 10 years ago I implemented a medical eye care program and earned nearly $50,000 in increased profits that first year. I paid off my camera in 6 months. In addition I kept adding to my optometric medical income, year after year, by practicing the best medical optometry I could. We also developed a greater relationship with medical doctors in the community that lead to medical doctors asking their patients to get an update from us before their next medical visit! Are we not here to help our patients? If so, why not do so and get paid?
Here is what I did to get started. I purchased a brand new Topcon Retina Camera. I put it in the screening room and taught my techs how to use it. Next I put a computer viewing station (software to display the images) in every exam room (we had two exam rooms). Finally, I created a report format (get this and make it yours and use it) that I could send to every medical doctor my patients might see and I began using it daily! I educated my screening staff on what major diseases we could diagnose via high resolution retina photography (we call it digital retina imaging) and I gave them a script to learn. They were required to recite this script to all our patients and they were paid a commission for each patient who paid for the retina imaging.
Here is the essence of the script. The script explained a special offer to each patient: We told them that we could often diagnose the early signs of diabetes, hardening of the arteries, macular degeneration, glaucoma and more by retina imaging. In addition, if we caught diabetes or hypertensive retinopathy, we could potentially help them avoid, strokes, heart attacks, diabetic vision loss and more. The screening would cost just $40 (we upped the fee since to $45) and we would give them a report for their records.
How I earned $50,000 extra the first year and took GREAT care of my patients! Nearly 60% of my first years patients had the inexpensive screening done. As you know, a huge number of patients were diagnosed with Hypertensive Retinopathy (stage II or more) and many diabetics were discovered. A good number of our patients who we referred to their PCPs (after we took time to educate them!), made an effort and changed their lifestyle. A few, who were totally stubborn, did nothing and some had strokes, lost vision or even died prematurely! This reinforced my commitment to see that my patients got the best care possible, a retina imaging at least every other year if they were over 40! At least we try to do this every year so that they are educated and reminded of what optometry means to them.
We Educated Our Patients Using The Internet (other doctors newsletters) So It Did Not Take Much Time! We follow up on all our patients with Educational Materials (use this book free, I wrote it and made if free for everyone), in the form of handouts and links to free online health letters. Most patients made some effort to change their diet and lifestyle. Even if it was just adding omega 3 oils to their diets. Some cut carbs as I told them to do and lost over 100 LBS (one man did this in one year and has still kept it off 10 years later!). Seeing them yearly and educating them by emailing them links to newsletters etc does work (of course not for everyone). I was present at a meeting of alternative health care providers, last month, and was honored to hear an RN share, that I saved her daughter’s life. She related how I diagnosed her daugher (age 20) with stage II Nicking years earlier and got her to change her diet and lifestyle. I would not have claimed that I had saved her life, but she might be right. What could be more rewarding?
The Bottom Line (other than great patient care!): I was seeing nearly 2,500 patients a year 10 years ago. If 60% paid $45.00 for a screening (and I gave $5.00 to my techs), this earns you $60,000 net. Do the math: 2,500 x 0.6 = 1,500 1,500 X $40 = $60,000 I did not quite make that much but you can see how you can do so pretty easily. Most importantly you diagnose lots of disease you might not catch otherwise. The patients also get a referral to their PCP and end up with great health care. Your credibility soars with the patient and the local MDs. Its a win, win, win! Don’t forget too, that in addition, all the diagnosis you made from the screening require medical follow up. This now allows you to add still better care for the patients and have insurance pay for those visits. How often do you follow a diabetic? How about a hypertensive with boxcarring?
Want references to help you understand more about your role in total patient care? Here is how to cut the cost of health care and why you need to follow patients with hypertensive retinopathy.