November 06, 2013
1 min read

BLOG: Should we be in or out of optical?

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Read more from John B. Pinto.

Roughly half of the nation’s ophthalmologists now dispense glasses, and this figure is rising, as the wisest providers in the right settings realize the benefits of dispensing:

  • There is an added margin of business security that comes with diversification.
  • Profits are augmented. In the typical setting, a dispensary can boost global profits 10% or more. Those surgeons who dispense today have been able to at least partially offset falling surgical fees.
  • If you don’t dispense glasses, then your patients are forced to develop a customer relationship with another eye care vendor, a vendor that may one day displace you. Patient convenience, continuity of care and retention are furthered by being a one-stop provider.
  • Managed care access can be potentially improved.
  • Commercial-aged patients with no other eye care needs than routine checkups and refractive lenses were once well down the list of desired patients. Since the advent of refractive surgery, such patients are now a feeder for a highly gratifying surgical practice.

However, at the same time, there are several conceivable contraindications for dispensing in a general ophthalmology setting:

  • Your practice depends heavily on optometric referral, and dispensing glasses will compete directly with your referral sources.
  • Your practice’s other revenue sources are so strong that the added complexity and bother of adding an optical simply can’t make a corresponding profit contribution.
  • Your practice’s physical plant is too small.
  • Your practice’s patient volume is so small that even a part-time optical can’t be supported by the minimal optical throughput.
  • Optical dispensing is so competitive in your service area, and your patients are so conditioned to shop for glasses outside of your office, that it’s not worth the trouble to enter the fray.