Solid capture rates help keep profits from escaping

Capture rate is the most important statistic that a dispensing ophthalmology practice generates. If the capture rate statistic is to be a useful tool, it should be calculated not to artificially make the rate look high, but rather to help the practice maximize its return on the resource of patients refracted.

Of all the statistics that a dispensing ophthalmology practice generates, the most important is its capture rate. The capture rate reflects the overall effectiveness of a practice, viewed from the dispensary's point of view. It indicates how effective ...

Let's assume that a solo dispensing ophthalmology practice has an average unit complete-pair sale of $300 and that it sells four complete pairs of eyeglasses a day. If the practice and the dispensary are open 250 days a year (5 days a week x 50 weeks a year), the dispensary will have a revenue of $300,000. If the dispensary were to sell just one additional complete pair of eyeglasses per day, however, the dispensary's revenue would rise to $375,000; an increase of 25%.

So, what should your dispensing ophthalmology practice's capture rate be? For comprehensive ophthalmologists the benchmark is 60%, whereas for optometrists it is 85%. In both cases the question begs, 60% and 85% of what? The current benchmarks are expressed as a percentage of patients refracted who receive changes to their prescriptions.

That method of calculating the capture rate statistic can lead to erroneous results. Those errant results stem from a lack of understanding of what the capture rate statistic is intended to tell the practice managers.

Managers are asked to organize the resources given to them and to maximize the return on those resources to the business owners' benefit. In a dispensing ophthalmology practice, the set of patients who were refracted is the "resource." That is one reason why I believe the capture rate should be expressed as a function of all refracted patients.

Let's say that a dispensing ophthalmologist in solo practice refracts 100 patients per week. Let's also say that 30 of the refracted patients need a prescription change. Finally, let's assume that 30 of the practice's patients purchase eyeglasses in the practice's dispensary that week. Many industry experts would say that the practice had a 100% capture rate (30 changes versus 30 captures) for the week. I respectfully disagree because measuring the capture rate that way can produce a rate exceeding 100%, a clear impossibility. Instead, the entire week's refracted patient pool of 100 should be counted because a sizable number of the 70 patients who did not need a prescription change should have, and likely would have, purchased new eyeglasses if they had simply been asked to consider doing so. Those purchases would have been eyewear to help patients pursue their visual lifestyles more effectively-spare pairs, sunglasses, computer glasses, and occupational progressive lenses.

Calculated in the way I propose, the example practice's capture rate would be only 30% (100 refractions versus 30 captures). That's a more realistic view of dispensary performance.

Ways to fight back

If the capture rate statistic is to be a useful tool, it should be calculated not to artificially make the rate look high, but to help the practice maximize its return on the resource, "patients refracted."

Strategies and tactics to help increase your captures:

Arthur De Gennaro is president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of the book The Dispensing Ophthalmologist, slated for release by the American Academy of Ophthalmology this summer. He can be reached at 803/359-7887,
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