Contact Lenses and The Walk Problem
Capture rate has become a somewhat confusing term in eye care because many practices, consultants, and publications ascribe different definitions. For some, it’s pairs of lenses sold divided by exams performed, for others it’s complete pairs only, for others still it’s lenses or frames or complete pairs; which is how we end up with the self-reported industry capture rate benchmarks at 70% or thereabouts.
Measuring eyeglass capture rate should be simple but a proper understanding ought to start with defining what we mean by capture, but that’s a separate conversation. For the purposes of this conversation, we’ll focus on how many complete pairs your practice sells divided by the number of exams it performs. If your practice sells 60 complete pairs for every 100 exams it performs, the capture rate is 60%. The walk rate is everyone else, or in this case 40%.
Contact lenses, as it relates to capture rate, are different because they are not necessarily fixed products that last until the patient’s next exam. Some patients buy an annual supply, some a few months and some nothing at all; further, some patients come back for annual contact lens exams and some wear their three month supply for two years.
So even if 60% of your patients leave your practice with some supply of contact lenses you know you are losing out on more than 40% of the revenue potential on that side of the equation. For the remainder of this article, we’re going to discuss contact lens sales largely in months supplied per patient while paying attention to the months not supplied as a primary growth opportunity.
All those patients who only order a few months’ supply means you’re very likely losing out on the balance of the supply they didn’t buy from you. In many cases, your practice’s only chance of selling contacts to your patient is on the day of the exam or follow up appointment. Put another way: once that patient is out of sight, your practice is out of mind until their next exam.
Some PMS systems have reports showing how successful you are at selling annual supplies, but that hardly tells the entire story. Much of the walk rate work can be done for you through data aggregation and analysis software systems, such as Edge Pro by GPN. Think about this old but accurate adage: that which gets measured gets improved. In short, you must look at the data to know what’s happening; it is equally important that the data your team enters into your EHR/PMS is accurate and useful for analysis.
For example: a spherical sv patient buys 1 box per eye of Air Optix and another similar patient buys 1 box per eye of Oasys lenses. Is your EHR set up to make it easy to recognize which is which? What about the number of lenses in each box? In the case of Oasys, both 6 and 12 packs are available. Your team has to understand that different modalities, different brands, and different products result in a different practical supply for the patient.
Self-reflection can be difficult and doesn’t come easily to everyone, but avoiding it can lead to missed opportunities and leaving a lot of revenue on the table.
Think of it like this: when someone tells you about their trip to the casino, they’ll share their big wins but probably keep their losses to themselves. Similarly, on social media, people post their extremely carefully curated adventures from the holiday weekend but won’t share their weekend spent binging Real Housewives. In OD circles, staggering revenue claims and talk of a 100% capture rate are the instagram filters that can make their image look great while being a few steps removed from reality.
In reality, a growing number of patients get their Rx from you but don’t buy the year supply. The results are in, and your patient’s buying habits are rapidly changing. The most recent Vision Council Consumer Insights found that of nearly 700 contact lens customers, 244 were prescribed dailies. Of those, only 51 (21%) purchased more than a 6 month supply.
Now for some empathy
Put your consumer hat on for a moment. Monthly subscriptions are extremely popular. From streaming music, movies, and tv to meal kit delivery to hyper specific boxes of stuff, almost all of your patients have an optional monthly subscription or two. Given the current economic climate, it stands to reason that patients will look for monthly options in other venues. The logic is extremely easy to understand: I pay x amount per month, I get y thing for that month. It really doesn’t involve any more planning than that.
Your patients walk from your office and buy lenses elsewhere for several reasons, price and convenience being chief among them. Over the last, let’s say 10 years, there has been a significant push industry wide in two separate but linked directions:
Sell more annual supplies
Fit more patients into daily disposable lenses
Think about the practical implications of these two ideas: if a patient follows your lead and wants to buy an annual supply of dailies, they are expected to pay between $400 and $900 out of pocket at the time of sale. Do your patients have the free cash to spend? Do they have a place to store all those boxes? Pigeon-holing your practice in this direction may result in a higher per patient revenue, but it may also drive patients out of your office without them ordering a thing.
Customers don’t want to tell you that they can’t afford that investment, it can be a bit embarrassing; they may not say anything at all and just leave with their rx in hand, ready to buy contacts as needed from their online supplier of choice.
Just think about how you budget. Most people do not think about annual purchases of consumables nor do they budget annually; they think monthly. According to a recent survey by debt.com 86% of Americans budget monthly.
Back to a little self-reflection. How do you pay for your online subscriptions when multiple options are provided? About 80% of consumers buy monthly plans instead of discounted annual programs. Each of you have businesses to run and homes to manage. What would you do if your internet provider tried to make you pay for a year of internet? Even worse, what would happen if your landlord or bank required you to pay your rent or mortgage a year at a time? You’d laugh in their face, yet your patients are kinder than that, they just quietly walk from your office.
Meet your patients where they are
Contact lens subscription services already exist, but EveryDay Contacts is the only doctor focused organization built from the ground up to help you solve your walk problem and make sure your patients stay yours.
EveryDay Contacts is:
$50/month to the patient. Transparent pricing ensures your patient knows they are getting the best price possible. Price is the primary reason patients walk.
For the patient is a month subscription meaning that it fits within their monthly planning and helps them deal with today’s uncertainty. Convenience is a close second in driving the walk problem.
Everyday Contacts are only available through EveryDay Contacts partner doctors
Your patient is your patient, you have full real-time access to your patients’ EveryDay Contacts orders.
Keep in mind, other contact lens organizations have no real interest in keeping the patient’s purchase in your office. Once you’ve written the prescription, they get their sale even if you don’t.
The walk problem is optional - set yourself up for success by offering your patients a buying modality that aligns with their budget, their needs, and an ecosystem they’re already familiar with.