The benefits rush: Help patients use end-of-year vision benefits
October, November and December are three months every eye care provider knows well: That time of the year when patients’ vision plan benefits are expiring or resetting for the new year. With that comes a familiar rush of appointments.
Don’t get us wrong: This isn't a bad thing. In fact, we think this time of year could represent a significant opportunity for ECPs!
It’s all about helping patients get the most out of their vision benefits and available HSA or FSA funds so they get more than their money's worth. If you can show patients you’re doing your part to make sure their money is well spent, they’ll appreciate it and continue coming back to your practice.
Not only that, but the more patients come in to use their benefits the more opportunities you have to dispense eyewear! That’s crucial because that’s where most practice revenue comes from. Your optical is where you can leverage the most control over your margins. So, at a time of year when practices are seeing surges in appointments, increasing capture rates and second pair sales are especially important.
Considering that you’re seeing more patients per day during this time of year than at any other time, are you adequately prepared to succeed?
Planning for next year should start now
A successful end-of-year benefits rush starts at least a year in advance. As patients come in for exams, make sure to set appointments for next year. Do the patient’s benefits expire on December 1? Set an appointment sometime next November to make certain they use their benefits again the following year.
Typically, the hardest thing about setting appointments is getting a hold of the patients to pick a date and time. If you already have them in your office, then you have the perfect opportunity to make sure they’ll be back around next busy season.
Use the available patient communication tools at your disposal to make this part of the job easier. There are software platforms built to reach out to patients, send appointment reminders and confirmations, and let them know of any specials you have going on.
Staff for a surge in appointments
Staff appropriately. If your practice generally sees 15 patients a day, then scaling up to 20 or 25 for the year-end rush isn’t as simple as making more exam slots available to patients.
Squeezing every patient in may seem like a customer-centric approach to business. However, that’s not the case if you’re making every other patient wait to see the doctor and opticians. Patients like an office that flows smoothly.
Check in at the front desk, wait for the tech, see the technician, wait for the doctor, see the doctor, wait for the optician, see the optician and wait to check out; that’s a lot of waiting. All that waiting could hurt patient experience. If you lose the patient’s focus at the dispensary, you’ve likely missed your chance to capture their eyewear purchase.
Patients with expiring plan benefits get a heads up
Patients often forget they have expiring benefits at the end of the year. They usually don’t follow their benefits too closely—who can blame them? It’s not like vision plans make it easy. Especially when those benefits are out-of-network. They’d appreciate it if you help them make sure their vision benefits don’t go to waste.
As October approaches, have your team pull up a list of patients and their plan benefits. Group the patients by their benefit expiration dates— for example: October 1, November 1, December 1—and work through the lists.
Find each patient on each list who doesn’t have an appointment in the next few months. Patients with benefits about to expire or reset but no upcoming appointment should get calls. Inform your patients that the benefits they paid for are about to disappear if they’re not used soon.
What about out-of-network patients?
But what if you’re out-of-network with the patient’s vision plan? That’s where Anagram Access comes in.
Access is our out-of-network billing solution for independent eye care providers. It unlocks access (get it?) to patients’ out-of-network benefits by allowing ECPs to verify eligibility and submit claims regardless of vision plan.
Access helps you make sure that even if you’re out-of-network with some or all vision plans, you can still help your patients use their benefits before they expire.
Put cash back in patients' pockets with Prosper
What if eyewear purchases put cash back in patients’ pockets? Can you imagine the upsurge in second pair sales and capture rate with an offer like that? It’d be an easy way to both help patients make sure they’re using their benefits and grow your practice.
Well, you don’t have to imagine anymore. Instead, you can Prosper.
Anagram Prosper is a new kind of patient-facing rebate that creates delightful buying experiences while lowering your cost of goods. And it’s a great way to help patients get the most out of their out-of-network benefits before they expire for the year.
When a patient visits for an exam or to use expiring vision benefits the goal should be to dispense eyewear or a second pair, respectively.
If new eyewear isn’t necessary, that’s fine. But often there's a good reason for the patient to purchase new eyewear—or at least purchase new frames or lenses. However, whatever that reason is it may not be enough to push the sale over the finish line. That’s where Prosper becomes an invaluable tool for independent ECPs.
Cash back on eyewear makes purchases easier for patients. Especially when it’s instantly delivered directly to their devices! With Prosper patients’ purchases become more affordable and you offer discounts the competition doesn’t; all without lowering your margins!
The eyewear that will improve your patients’ lives is an easy sell when they’re benefits are expiring and you can offer cash back on the purchase.