Capture rate is defined as the number of prescriptions generated daily divided by your daily refractions expressed as percentage. The capture rate is the principle financial driver which creates the revenue stream produced in your optical dispensary. Many practices that track this metric discover that capture rate may initially fall between 25% to 35%, which is significantly lower than an ideal goal of 60% of all patients who are refracted.
Low capture rate. One of the most overlooked revenue-generating areas of your practice may be “right under your nose,” as the saying goes. It has to do with the way you (or your physicians) conclude a comprehensive eye examination. For purposes of this article, the question is: Why do so many ophthalmology practices have a low capture rate?
One of the primary reasons is lack of physician involvement. This generally manifests as the physician failing to recommend appropriate eyewear and then not channeling patients into the dispensary. In dispensary terms, this channeling is known as a “hand-off.” Put another way, there is a direct correlation between the hand-off and the practice’s capture rate.
How do you go about improving the patient hand-off from physician to the optical dispensary and thus improve your capture rate? Let’s start with some marketing theory.
Path to purchase
If you are familiar with the marketing concept of the Path to Purchase, you know there are moments along that decision-making path when shoppers are open to receiving information that can help them decide what to purchase and where to purchase it. These are known as Moments of Maximum Impact (MMI). The general principle that marketing experts agree on is that the most powerful MMI in ophthalmology is when the patient is sitting in the examination room chair and the doctor is giving them recommendations. From a dispensary standpoint, this is known as “prescribing from the chair.”
Prescribing from the chair
Prescribing from the chair is the art of making appropriate recommendations to patients for specific eyewear. Those recommendations should be solidly based on patient responses to direct questions about how they use their eyes. Those questions should cover work, hobbies, or other visual task requirements. Using the same techniques you would use to recommend cataract surgery or any procedure, inform patients of their options and suggest they visit your dispensary for more information.
As mentioned above, moving the patient from the examination room to the dispensary is known as the hand-off. A proper patient hand-off is the key to improving your practice’s capture rate and hence your dispensary’s revenue. So, how do you improve the hand-off? The answers vary by practice but there are several methods that work.
The bottom line is that with a little physician engagement and a little reworking of some basic processes, your practice’s capture rate can improve-in some cases, dramatically. Considering that the inverse of your capture rate is the number of patients who chose to leave your practice with their unfilled prescription in their hand, I would say this is an area that is well worth the time to look into.
Arthur De Gennarois president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management fi rm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of the book “The Dispensing Ophthalmologist.” He can be reached at 803/359-7887, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the company’s web site, www.adegennaro.com.
Aron M. Arkonis a senior consultant with Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC. Neither author has a financial interest relevant to the subject matter.