The Technology Powering My New Dry Eye Center
Maria Sampalis, OD
Owner of Sampalis Eye Care in Warwick R.I. and sublease at Warby Parker
Dry eye disease is becoming more prevalent, with the National Eye Institute reporting that nearly 16 million Americans have dry eye. Inevitably, some of those people are already patients in your practice, ranging from young contact lens wearers to elderly patients with lid disease or on topical and systemic medications.
Diagnostic protocols and technology that enable you to better identify dry eye patients, who could benefit from treatment, can change patients’ quality of life and your practice. Here are the details on a technology, the CA-800 Corneal Analyzer from Topcon Healthcare, that is greatly enhancing the care I provide to my patients and my practice’s profitability.
In-Depth Imaging that Elevates Care
The most up-to-date OD practices now offer diagnosis and treatment in-house to address dry eye. The CA-800 gives me the ability to identify dry eye through key metrics, such as non-invasive break-up time and tear meniscus height, and provides in-depth imaging of the Meibomian glands, which helps me better identify the causes of dry eye. I am able to identify and manage even severe dry eye cases in my practice, rather than referring patients out. This positions me to become a dry eye referral center for other ODs and healthcare practitioners.
Educate Patients & Boost Treatment Compliance
When you have instrumentation that allows you to show patients the cause behind their discomfort, you can more easily and successfully encourage them to adhere to the patient-led treatment plan you prescribed and return back for in-office treatments. They also can see the effect of the treatment over time on the dry eye metrics.
I just recently brought the CA-800 into my office, and it is already getting used heavily. Many of my patients are identified for additional dry eye testing by my supporting staff when their case history is taken, which includes a dry eye questionnaire, or after I conduct my slit lamp examination and perform fluorescein staining test. The CA-800 then enables me to get high-quality images of the patient’s Meibomian glands, along with non-invasive tear film break up time, tear meniscus height, and blink analysis. Patients are usually receptive to this testing after I explain the pathophysiology of dry eye disease and the negative impact it can have on their ocular surface, vision, and quality of life if left untreated.
I educate patients that the tear film has three different layers that need to be examined to determine the root cause of their dry eye. I explain that performing the extra testing will allow me to create a custom treatment plan that improves their comfort, eye health, and often, their visual quality.
Patients who better understand the need for treatment will likely have better outcomes due to enhanced compliance. The CA-800 has great educational dry eye reports that could help in patients’ understanding of their condition and as a result improve their compliance.
A Practice Investment Spurring Additional Revenue Generation
From a practice profitability standpoint, dry eye testing and treatments are frequently out-of-pocket for the patient, allowing me to create revenue streams that are not hampered by low managed-care reimbursements. That goes a long way towards helping me care for patients and ensure growing profitability.
Dry eye testing using the CA-800 is a $50 out-of-pocket charge for my patients. The dry eye tests take no more than 10 minutes once you have overcome the short learning curve for the device. It’s also possible to train your technicians to run the device, and the i-Map Pro software data analysis from any networked review station. Patients that receive dry eye treatment recommendations typically generate an additional $150 in revenue from the purchase of heating pads, vitamins and Regener-Eyes® drops.
As independent optometrists, practice investments that make up for low insurance reimbursements and greater competition from online eyewear retailers are essential to our long-term survival and prosperity.
Train Your Staff to Support You in Growth of Dry Eye Services
An OD’s supporting staff play an important role in identifying potential dry eye patients and reinforcing the OD’s treatment recommendations. My staff have been trained to let our patients know that we offer tear film analysis and Meibomian gland imaging during routine annual exam visits.
Staff are on the front lines in the office either directly selling products for home treatment or directing patients where to go online to purchase products in which the prescriber earns a share of each sale. Technology like the CA-800 makes this part of their job much easier.
Patients are impressed by the images of their Meibomian glands, so the messaging I give them in the exam room, which my staff echoes at the check-out desk, brings them to the point where they are ready to make a purchase and/or schedule their next appointment in our office to seek treatment. The technology allows us to emphasize the root cause of dry eye to patients and sell products like omega 3 nutraceuticals, artificial tears, heated pads, Regener-Eyes LITE and other at-home treatments.
Grow Your Practice into the Future with Dry Eye Center Branding
Technology like the CA-800 allows your practice to build a referral network that brands your office as a dry eye center. We send letters to all nearby optometrists, ophthalmologists, and primary care professionals informing them that our office specializes in dry eye diagnosis and treatment and that we would welcome their referral of patients who need these services routinely, or prior to cataract surgery for example. I believe that our investment in advanced technology and our commitment to marketing our services to the community is priming our practice for robust growth while delivering much-needed care in the process.
Originally published by Review of Optometric Business
Sponsored by Topcon Healthcare MCA#: 4771