While we all know that daily disposable contact lenses are the healthiest, most convenient, most hygienic options for our patients, many of us struggle to successfully present these lenses in our practices and follow through with sales. With some slight changes in our communication and delivery, and some unique ways to approach possible daily disposable objections, we can all be more successful.
Avoid The Dreaded Question
If there is one question that grates on my ears in a practice, it is “how many boxes do you want?” Not only are we leaving it up to the patient to determine what is best for them, we are asking an open ended question we might not like the answer to (none?). The objective in our practices should be that the patient always gets an annual supply, as this is most profitable to our practices and better for compliance- they will have a year supply of lenses and be conditioned to return to our practices in a year for their exam. This also takes them off the market for the year- no more running out of contact lenses on Sunday night and searching online to order them while our offices are closed.
In marketing and sales, this is often taught as “make the choice for them”. Companies send customers a curated box of items (example: clothing) based on their preferences and they get to decide “do you want to buy this” versus “feel free to choose from any of these options.” In our offices, a simple way to manage this is to ask “would you like your annual supply of contact lenses shipped home or to your office.” Or, in these COVID times, a simple statement “your annual supply of contact lenses will be shipped directly to your home.”
There is no choice of how many boxes the patient would like, as we find when you leave it up to the patient, they will likely choose the least amount and least costly option. With an annual supply, we know our patients are getting the lowest cost with our annual supply discount, plus a manufacturers rebate and free shipping to their home. By changing the approach of your front desk to this one question, you can see a dramatic increase in your annual supply capture rate in your practice.
“But They Are More Expensive“
Ah cost, the elephant in the exam room. When I bring up daily disposables, I carefully watch the body language of my patient, especially if they are new to the office. Depending on the patient, you may see an immediate shift- they may cross their arms, or slightly sit back. They overall may look slightly uncomfortable or even nervous. What has happened in these few seconds? Patients who are unfamiliar with daily disposable contact lenses often have a preconceived notion that they are significantly more expensive than the lens they are currently wearing. This can make some ECP’s nervous and feel that they don’t even want to bring them up to a patient, but I urge you to reconsider.
Years ago, I spoke to a large group of optometrists on this very topic. They were a group of ODs who had been in practice for less than 10 years, and our conversation was on increasing daily disposables in their practice. I asked for a show of hands of how many felt uncomfortable having this conversation, and almost every hand raised. My first question to the room was, “how much do daily disposable lenses in your practice actually cost? Thinking about the two most popular lenses in your office, do you know how much an annual supply actually costs the patient?” It was shocking to see how many didn’t know if that cost was $300, $500 or $1500. If we don’t know the cost, how can we even present it to a patient?
We also know that all things considered, daily disposable lenses are the healthiest and most convenient option for our patients. Does that cost more? Absolutely. Should we apologize for that? Not at all. Technology and innovation have a cost, and the better the product, the more premium the charge is. That goes for everything in our life, including clothing, technology and cars. If we show patients the value behind the increased cost, they are more likely to feel confident in your recommendations.
I also talk to the patients about the “unseen costs” of contact lenses. I call it their “grocery bill totals.” While daily disposable lenses themselves are most expensive than their frequently planned replacement counterparts, there is no added cost such as cases (3 for $12 on Amazon) or solution ($35 for a 2 pack of Biotrue on Amazon). These “grocery bill” costs added to the cost of their reusable lenses will often come out close to the cost of daily disposable contact lenses, showing the patient that they are more comparable than not. This doesn’t have to be confrontational or take a long time in the exam room, but I feel it is so powerful in driving the message home that daily disposable lenses are not as much of an increase as they may think.
“Aren’t They Bad For The Environment?“
Increasingly, we are getting questions from patients about the impact contact lenses have on the environment. Many are concerned that the plastic generated from the blister packs each day is putting an unneeded stress on our planet. This becomes a great conversation to have with a patient to show that you have thought about this, and your practice has taken steps to focus on sustainability.
While one would think that daily disposable blister packs produce more waste than reusable lenses and solution bottles, an article in Contact Lens Spectrum points out that “an annual supply (365 pairs) of one-day disposable contact lenses, including cartons, blister packs, and foil produces 1kg of waste per year. Reusable contact lenses, plus solutions for the year produce 0.87kg waste per year.”1 The article then goes on to show that in regard to the waste, “the average plastic waste of one multipurpose solution or hydrogen peroxide solution bottle is equivalent to more than 2.5 years of daily disposable lenses.” 1
Companies are also looking at ways to be more sustainable. Coopervision announced that their clariti 1-Day contact lens is the first net plastic neutral lens. They have partnered with Plastic Bank to purchase credits for the collection, processing and reuse of general plastic waste equivalent to the weight of plastic in clariti 1 Day lenses, blister, and packaging.
Bausch and Lomb is another contact lens company focused on the environmental impact of their contact lenses. They have partnered with TerraCycle to create a free recycling program for their BioTrue ONEday contact lenses and blister packs, as well as other lenses and packs in their brand. Their goal is to allow contact lenses and packaging to be recycled properly, with the goal of reducing landfill waste.
By being well-versed in the programs some companies have, we are better able to meet objections patients may have on the impact of changing to a daily disposable contact lens. This also serves to grow your practice as patients learn your practice is also focused on your environmental impact and sustainability.
“I Was Told They Don’t Come in My Prescription“
Long, long ago, daily disposables were limited in availability and patients with certain prescriptions (astigmatism, multifocal) were not good candidates. I now open every conversation about daily disposables with excitement that there is now a lens for ALMOST everyone! Patients who have been told in the past that it was not an option for them will likely become your biggest fan when they can finally have the lens they have wanted to try but may not have been available. While you may know that daily disposables have been available in toric and multifocal prescriptions for awhile, share with patients that right now is the best time for them to have come in to your office, because you are going to wow them with crisp, clear comfortable vision. Who doesn’t want to feel excited about new products that are made for them? A little excitement can go a long way.
If You Aren’t Having the Conversation With Your Patients, They Will Hear It From Someone Else
This is the hard truth, colleagues. If we aren’t talking to our patients about daily disposable lenses, someone else is. It could be their friend at soccer (Dr Stewart just fit me with these amazing new lenses you throw out every day!), social media, in a magazine or on TV. If we aren’t the ones telling them about daily disposables, we may have just lost a patient. If my patient hears that her co-worker can now throw her lenses out every day and it is the healthiest, cleanest option, and she just saw me yesterday and I didn’t bring it up, what does that say about me? My patient may think I’m not up to date in the latest technology, and when she is due for her next exam, she may ask her co-worker for her doctors information because she wants daily disposable lenses. We should make a point of talking to each and every one of our patients in the exam room about daily disposable lenses, so they hear it from us. Don’t miss an opportunity to wow your patients with your knowledge, so they can be your biggest champions.
With a few changes in our everyday contact lens dialogue, we can have some impactful conversations and improve patient satisfaction, drive referrals and improve our bottom line.
Yours in success-
Jennifer L. Stewart