Maintaining Traditions and Exploring the Future of Ophthalmology at ASCRS

It has been at least 20 years since I attended my first conference of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS) and I haven’t missed a single year since.

What makes it so special? The conference attracts physicians and practice administrators from all over the world who attend to learn the latest advancements in ophthalmic diagnostics and treatments, as well as best practices for delivering care to patients. It also gives us a chance to meet informally with our clients from all over the country.

The team at Matt Jensen Marketing is proud to support many of the industry’s leaders in ophthalmology, helping them to spread awareness of new technology, clinical studies and procedures. This year, several members of the MJM staff (including myself, Matt Jensen and Logan Wang) will be presenting at ASCRS and the joint American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA) Conference. Our topics include:

  • Can My Practice Afford Another High-Tech Device?
  • Creating a Winning Culture
  • Measuring What Matters: Create a HIPAA Compliant Patient Satisfaction Survey with Compelling Data
  • Innovating the Patient Experience: Five Ways Private Practices Create Raving Fans

The mission of ASCRS is “to advance the art and science of ophthalmic surgery and the knowledge and skills of ophthalmic surgeons by providing clinical and practice management education and by working with patients, government, and the medical community to promote the delivery and advancement of high-quality eye care.”

Our MJM team is proud to be a part of this organization now and for many years to come.

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Once the Dust Settles: A Post-ASCRS Review

Recently, a few members of our team made the west coast trek to Los Angeles to participate in the annual spring ASCRS conference. The conference is an opportunity for ophthalmic professionals to learn, grow, and network with peers.

As attendees, we had a lot to take in, from the exhibit floor to the classroom. We had the opportunity to hear excellent doctors present on their life’s work and to see live surgery being performed with the industry’s newest technology.

Exciting new refractive technologies, such as SMILE from ZEISS, were available for education and hands-on learning. Healthcare regulation and reform were hot topics of conversation, as we all wait anxiously to see what emerges regarding MIPS and changes to the ACA. And, as always, we were all learning and hunting for new innovations in patient care, surgical offerings, and best practices in ophthalmology.

The biggest challenge for exhibitors at ASCRS is getting your product or offering to “cut through the noise.”

With hundreds of industry partners present on the convention floor, the biggest challenge for exhibitors at ASCRS is getting your product or offering to “cut through the noise” and reach new potential consumers.

So how do you set yourself up for success? How do you ensure that your product and your booth will stand out above all others?

Do it well

If you’re going to spend the money to be present at the conference, you need to do it well. How do we define “doing it well?” There are four key components:

  1. Focus on cohesive branding and materials.
  2. Offer pointed messaging that clearly outlines your value proposition and ideal customer.
  3. Have something “actionable” at your booth; something for visitors and customers to do immediately to improve their skill, practice, or thinking.
  4. Learn from your successes and mistakes. Audit every conference you attend and determine what worked and didn’t work from a booth presence perspective. Ask your loyal customers what they thought of your booth. Ask what others thought the best parts of ASCRS were this year. Learn, learn, learn.

If you “do it well,” you will shine at meetings like this.

PRN booth at ASCRS

As part of their presence at ASCRS 2017, PRN included a number of materials intended to educate their consumers and to show how their unique offerings stand up against competitors’ products.

Create space for conversation outside the exhibit hall

Some of the best conversations we saw happen at ASCRS happened outside of the exhibit hall and over a shared meal. Relationships and trust are built when real conversation is allowed to happen, and the best place to build relationships and trust is over dinner.

Relationships and trust are built when real conversation is allowed to happen, and the best place to build relationships and trust is over dinner.

Some options for holding these coinciding events include round tables or additional presentations. As you plan your event, create goals of the amount or type of feedback you hope to gain. In this way, you can measure the success of your event. Answers to these questions should affect your materials, your way-finding, your room set-up and your presentations.

Another exciting option at national events like ASCRS is to plan “experiential meetings” where you combine some form of learning or content sharing with a locally sourced experience. The goal of these events is that attendees would become actively immersed in your brand and product. For example, work with a local tour group to book a double-decker tour bus of the city. Before or after the event, offer some exciting new thoughts about your product or company. Because ASCRS has many vendors and meetings competing for the attention of doctors and staff, give people an added incentive to attend your experience.

Visiometrics booth at ASCRS

With these long standing banners, Visiometrics extended the visual impact of their booth’s presence. This modular approach also allows them to reuse those elements separately in other events.

Your booth layout matters

Depending on your product and presentation, the floor plan of your booth matters. In smaller booths, like a 10×10, the options are limited. However, there are still decisions to be made. Some questions you should ask yourself as you design the layout include:

  • What’s the one message you want people to see and understand?
  • Do you want a table separating you from your potential customers?
  • Do you need a private space to meet with interested buyers?
  • How does your floor plan affect your ability to draw in passersby?
  • What will people be able to stop and do at your booth?
  • How can your booth be unique and different from any other?

Answering these questions clearly before you begin working on your booth design will help ensure you create the ideal booth for your meeting goals, at ASCRS and beyond.

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Need a CLEAR Review and Plan for Your Business?

Strong, healthy businesses all focus on the same thing—how can we get better? Where are the gaps in our service, in the way people experience us, in the way we treat our loyal customers? What are our strengths, and how can we share them more boldly?

MJM can help your business CLEAR up your performance in these areas.

It’s called our CLEAR Method, and it can help your business or health care practice understand, at the core, what makes you different, strong and valuable to your customers and fix what’s stopping you from health and growth.

The CLEAR Method is made up of two parts. First, MJM conducts a CLEAR Review of your business, looking for strengths and weaknesses using our 21-point review tool. Second, MJM proposes a CLEAR Plan for focused, holistic growth and improvement in your business plan based on the results of the CLEAR Review.

But what is CLEAR? It’s our unique approach to looking at your business, top to bottom, operations to marketing. Before you spend a dime on advertisements, you need to get CLEAR.

CLEAR starts with a deep look at your Culture. Who are you, at the core? What are the values you and your team exhibit daily? Why do you exist?

Next, CLEAR looks at your Logistics. Are there gaps or weaknesses in the day-to-day logistics of your business? How are those gaps shaping the way people experience you? What items are top priorities to fix?

After Logistics, we study the Experience you provide your customers. How do people see, feel, and interact with your business from the first moment to the last moment? How can you and every member of your staff shape and design that experience?

Next, we look at the ways you generate Awareness for your business. More than just marketing, Awareness is a holistic review of all the ways people learn about your business, share information about you with friends, talk about you online, and the messages you pay to broadcast.

Finally, we conclude with a walk through your business Review metrics. How are you tracking your successes and failures? Do you have tools to measure your performance? If not, how can you tell if you’re succeeding?

The CLEAR Method involves hard work, both by you and by MJM. But the fruits of that work are powerful – they can lead to stability, health, and growth for your business. They will show you a plan to create happy staff, happy customers, and a more fulfilling CLEAR plan for your business.

If you’re ready to grow, if you’re not interested in “marketing secrets” and know that strong, stable businesses are built with long-term results in mind, the CLEAR Method may be a great fit for your business to jump-start 2017 with a new plan and a new focus.

To learn more about the CLEAR Method and to schedule your CLEAR Review, contact us.

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The Importance of Branding in the Medical Practice

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

Branding in a Medical Context

How does this relate to a medical practice? Our patients today have access to more information than ever before to help them make a decision as to whom they choose for their medical procedure. There are markets and target audiences for everything but it’s your job as a medical practitioner to be crystal clear about the image for which you’re aiming and how that influences everything from services performed to pricing to patient experience.

Maria Ross, in Develop Your Brand Voice, Three Keys to Killer Messaging says, “The goal of the brand-building game is to get prospects to know, like and trust you so that when the need for your product or service arises – when they are most ready to buy – they think of you first.”

According to Laura Lake in What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Marketing Strategy?, the objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

  • Delivers the message clearly
  • Confirms your credibility
  • Connects your target prospects emotionally
  • Motivates the buyer
  • Concretes user loyalty

To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.

Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions.

Branding and Social Media

How does social identity affect your brand? A patient’s first encounter with a physician is often through its online presence. 90% of 18 to 24 year olds surveyed said they would trust medical information shared by others on social media networks. 41% of patients said that social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility. 60% of doctors say social media improves quality of care that patients receive. Providers should take advantage of the trust consumers have for them over other health companies.

Creating and establishing a brand takes time and effort. Maria Ross offers:

“Brand is a three-legged stool: It is conveyed visually, verbally and experientially. Visually is the easy part: your logo, your colors, your design, your packaging. Verbally is how you talk, what you say, and which messages you convey. For example, do you lead with price, or do you lead with value? Does your company speak in conservative, authoritarian tones, or are you more playful and whimsical in your copy? Ideally, your visual and verbal promises should align and lead to where the rubber hits the road: experience. In other words, once you’ve promised me the potential customer or client, something verbally and visually, does the experience match that promise?”

A Consistent Brand Builds Trust

Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Look to what you do know about the very essence of your practice and emulate that in a simple statement that can guide your brand in every aspect of your business. Be consistent and use that brand to define the visual image, verbal communication and the patient experience in all encounters.

If you fall short in maintaining the customer promise of your brand at any stage, the relationship and implied trust will be at risk. Instead, create the best possible experience for your patients and establish a long-lasting brand that will work for you.


Selecting an EHR System

Nobody is in love with electronic health records (EHRs)—at least not as much as he or she likes a new laser, a new building, or an administrator. EHRs are something that we all must have, however, per the US government. In the future, EHRs may improve the customer’s experience, but until now, they have been a necessary evil that often slows the system. Sure, there is the ease of transferring files and the ability to see patients’ information from home. EHRs also allow patients to schedule visits and pay their bills online. These features help the business, but are they really enhancing patients’ experiences, especially when the implementation is spotty at best?

New requirements will set the bar so high that some EHR providers may find it difficult to comply. According to Black Book Rankings 2013, 54% of EHR systems will not survive Meaningful Use Stage III. This hurdle coupled with ICD-10 transitions slated for next year means rapid consolidation in this category.

Keep two things in mind as you read this edition of Premium Practice Today. First, have you done your research? A practice considering an EHR system needs to do more than “kick the tires.” You and your staff need to talk to two or three other practices that are using the solution. Talk with personnel in the billing office who are seeing how the record syncs with the billing in an automated fashion. Try to connect with patients who have used that company’s online portal to pay their bills or schedule an appointment.

Second, is the EHR provider thriving? Unlike other offerings in our field, the EHR system will be with your organization for the long haul. The health of the vendor is critical to the long-term relationship it has with your practice. Talk to vendors. How is their leadership? Is there massive turnover in their ranks? Do they pay their bills?

These matters are important to consider when selecting an EHR system that mimics how you practice your craft.

—Matthew Jensen, MBA, editorial adviser

Click here to read the full article from Premium Practice Today.


A Contemporary LASIK Patient

Millennials are the key targeted demographic market for the procedure.

Oh, for the good old days when you could track LASIK volumes based on the Consumer Confidence Index and feel pretty secure knowing that the number of procedures would increase or hold stable. Market Scope estimates the 2013 refractive surgery procedural volume—including LASIK, surface ablation, phakic IOLs, and refractive lens exchange—to be 602,000 (counting procedures performed in Mexico and Canada). This represents a 6.6% decline from 2012. The first quarter of this year was affected by winter storms across the Midwest and eastern United States, and although consumers’ confidence is on the rise and the economy is recovering, LASIK volumes are still lagging.

What Influences Refractive Surgery Volume?

What outside factors are affecting the volume of refractive surgery procedures being performed? Is everything relevant being measured? How do current conversion rates compare with those in the past? According to Market Scope, only 45% of survey respondents in the fourth quarter of 2013 were tracking conversions. Of those practices measuring conversion rates, there was a 5% decline in “call-to-consultation” conversions compared with the fourth quarter of 2012 and a 7% decline in consultations to surgery.

Considering that Millennials (individuals born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s) are the key targeted demographic market for LASIK, what has changed? Underemployment is an issue, because baby boomers are staying longer in the workforce and Millennials are competing for jobs. Many Millennials delay employment, opting for more education rather than accepting entry-level positions. By the time they enter the job market, they are burdened with student debt and hesitant to increase it by financing elective medical treatments. The choice to have refractive surgery is no longer a decision on how to spend disposable income but rather a decision on how to meet one’s commitments when the economy and one’s employment status may change at any time.

Other Challenges

Advertising strategies have changed due to new online and social media choices. Millennials seem to enjoy customizing their TV and radio preferences by using online options that allow them to watch and listen to content when they want and how they want—with limited commercial interruptions. The marketing arena is in flux, making it challenging to reach consumers and potential patients for elective procedures.

Additionally, Millennials are not motivated by the same factors as their predecessors, Generation Xers and boomers. Culturally, Millennials value technology differently, and how they choose to communicate is different. They also demand transparency. (Do not minimize LASIK’s potential risks, because these patients will do their research and will not trust providers who do not point out risks.) The freedom and convenience of LASIK may not resonate as well with Generation Y as with members of previous generations, and Millennials may need more information to convince them of the procedure’s benefits. A cost analysis of a lifetime of glasses versus LASIK, for example, may help them to see value in the procedure.

Fighting Back

How are refractive practices responding? One is promoting a “LASIK tomorrow” credit from their optical department at the time of the purchase of eyeglasses and contact lenses. It offers the patient a $1,000 credit toward LASIK for up to 3 years after the eyeglass sale as an incentive to save for the procedure at a later date.

Joanna Chmiel, administrator at Kraff Eye Institute in Chicago, is “recommitting” to LASIK and using this opportunity to train staff on communication, the value proposition, and the patient’s experience. All of this has improved conversion rates. “Our practice has always been very committed to laser vision correction,” she says. “Current times require an attitude of recommitting to LASIK, as it is a great procedure! With no disrespect to other ocular procedures and all of the technological developments, including laser cataract surgery, we have strongly maintained our ‘eye on the ball’ in terms of educating patients and prospects on the advantages of LASIK. Many factors in today’s economy are outside of our control, so let’s control what we can!”

Ms. Chmiel says:

  • We can always be a step ahead of the competition by providing a stellar customer experience at all times.
  • We can make a strong effort to maintain and grow comanaging and referral relationships.
  • We can, and need to, truly understand a contemporary LASIK patient and place our message/promote our brand exactly where that patient is looking for it.

According to Ms. Chmiel, all of the aforementioned can only be done by a committed team who lives this vision every day, from staff in the trenches, through management, to the doctors and surgeons.

Practices are also reallocating marketing budgets from radio and TV to website and Internet marketing. Market Scope reported that the average per-procedure advertising spending dropped to $171.73 in Q4 2013 compared to $212.82 in Q3. Surgeons responding to the survey rated Internet search advertisements as the most effective form of advertising. TV and radio followed with social networks close behind. Review sites, the new word-of-mouth referral source, were not listed but are definitely an important tactic in the social network arena.


Current trends suggest that surgeons and their staff must carefully consider whether their practices are positioned to serve the Millennial market in a tailored way. Exuberant testimonials from patients confirm that LASIK is still an offering that resonates with active adults who enjoy the benefits of unencumbered vision.

New technologies (see What Is Next?) may create media buzz, renew the population’s interest in refractive procedures, and increase the market with presbyopic treatments. Relatively flat to moderate growth, however, may be expected for the next 5 years.

View this article as a PDF, here.

Cindy Haskell, COE, is head coach at Spectacle Network, providing national data and usage trends of advanced technology to improve patient outcomes. She helps practices more rapidly adopt those technologies that serve their patients best. She acknowledged no financial interest in the products or companies mentioned herein. Ms. Haskell may be reached at cindy@spectaclenetwork.com.

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Honest Marketing

Making fur hats out of kittens

When people in college told me they were studying marketing, they might as well have told me they studying to make fur hats out of kittens. I thought it was universally acknowledged that marketers were in the same camp as payday loan peddlers, Ponzi schemers and email spammers. I remember wondering if you had to sell your soul in the second or third year, or if that was more of a capstone, a Faustian final project in exchange for your diploma.

Do you have to sell your soul to work in marketing?

Marketing as a zero-sum game

“Marketing” doesn’t have to be dirty business where one side manipulates the other into acting a certain way. What I was reacting against at the time, and I what I still reject, is the kind of marketing that appeals to the lowest desires in a person and causes them to act in a way that is not actually in their best interest. Marketing that flatters, belittles or bullies its audience into a response that only serves the organization’s interest is mere manipulation and a waste of creative energy.

Marketing, and marketers, should not:

  1. Create a false “need”
  2. Appeal to the worst in people (our vanity, our pride, our hatred)
  3. Prey on people’s vulnerabilities (our insecurities, our fear, our ignorance)

I’m not interested in spending my time to do any of those things. Marketing or advertising that pits itself against the audience creates an adversarial sort of relationship, as in a zero-sum game. (In games like basketball there is no limit to how many times each side can score, and one side’s points don’t alter the number of points their opponent has. In zero-sum games like poker, the winner gains only as much as the other players lose.) But there is a way to “market” that is collaborative–one where both sides win.

So what should marketing do?

Honest marketing should tell the truth about the product, and it should also keep people from believing things that are not true about themselves. Companies have products to sell, and organizations have messages to promote. At the same time, if those products or messages are legitimate, valid and useful, their customers or audiences have a real need to buy those products or hear those messages. In this case, both sides benefit from marketing done well.

Marketing that is legitimate:

  1. Communicates what a brand is clearly and accurately
  2. Connects people with products and messages that help them live their lives
  3. Helps companies or organizations meet their goals

Tell your story well

A few years ago we developed some materials for a cabinet maker and carpenter to help him showcase his work. He’s a craftsman, and his work is beautiful, and in some ways his work speaks for itself. But the fact was that his work couldn’t speak for itself unless his audience and potential customers saw it. We took photographs that showed off his work. We developed a logo and a visual style for his printed material that matched the style of his work and his personality. We helped him create a web presence that was easy to find and to navigate. We “marketed” him and his work, but I think a more accurate way to describe it is that we told his story well. We didn’t try to show him as something he was not, or create false need for his products. We represented him well and people that were looking for products like his began to find him. Everybody wins.

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Patient Pay, Patient Wait and the Customer Experience

As the cost of health care from the patient perspective increases, so will patients’ expectations of their providers. Out-of-pocket expenses have always been a point of contention in the health care industry, and this tension only increases as the field of health care takes a more dominant stance in what we talk about each and every day. Patients are very aware of how they are treated at every step of their journey through the doctor’s office, and they are expecting more from their experience as their personal costs continue to rise.1

Waiting is inevitable in eye care. Efforts should be made to turn “wait times” into something else entirely.

One of the key measures of patient satisfaction in the health care sphere is how long a patient’s wait time is before seeing his or her provider. Patients often cite their wait time as a measure of the quality of care and overall satisfaction they feel while in the doctor’s office. A recent study by Michael McMullen, MD, and Peter Netland, MD, PhD,2 correlation between the amount of wait time and patient satisfaction. In fact, the study authors found that satisfaction with the amount of time spent waiting was the strongest driver of overall satisfaction. This is keen insight into the minds of our changing consumer.

Patients are now paying more than ever for even simple things such as X-rays, routine exams, and follow-up care. Even if the visit is not associated in any way with an elective offering, they are paying more. Therefore, their consumer-like preferences will be even more acute. In addition, patient customers report that their strongest consumer-like preference is to “not wait.” With this in mind, it is helpful to look at your clinic environment through the lens of the patient and create for them an experience that can satisfy this key driver.

Setting Standards for a Better Customer Experience

Waiting is inevitable in eye care. Efforts should be made to turn “wait times” into something else entirely.

You can begin this review the same way a patient might come in contact with your health care system. First, evaluate your phone standards:

  • How long does it take before someone picks up when you call your own office?
  • How many dropped calls or calls where the patient hangs up before you answer do you have?
  • How many total calls do you receive a day?
  • Is there a call center you rollover to when the heightened call volumes occur?
  • What is your standard number of rings?

Many practices use a phone prompting, or a phone tree, system that can frustrate the patient customer. Although having one of these systems may allow for more modest staffing expense, it typically starts the relationship on a bad note. These systems are difficult to navigate, programmed too quickly, not revisited, and often lead to dead ends, where the caller is placed in the back of the queue or disconnected altogether.

After you have reviewed the standards of your phone team during the call, it is important to review the standards your team has before and after the call. Many practices believe that when the phone is hung up, the responsibility of the phone team is finished. Not so. Days and weeks before the patient customer appears in your office, it is nice to make a reminder call, pre-visit contact, to reiterate what was discussed on the phone, review any questions that may have arisen during the patient’s exploration of your offerings, and/or review any remaining materials or doctors’ instructions in preparation for his or her upcoming exam. It is also important to ask patients about their concerns regarding the exam.

This reminder call also serves as an opportunity to remind folks to bring a loved one or family member along to their visit. This can help the patient-customer to not only have a good experience but also properly make their educated decision while with the provider in your office.

The Day of the Examination

Now, it’s the day of the examination. Everything needs to be thought through, from how patients arrive at your center to how they’re escorted back into the diagnostic area after the check-in process. Let’s begin with how patients arrive. Every effort should be made to make this process as smooth as possible. Maps, GPS, radio signals, call-ahead reminders, and texts should be used to help patients feel like they’re on the right track when traveling to your practice. In the northern states, one of the number-one patient concerns during the winter months is road conditions. Patients worry about the drive to the center, if the sidewalks will be icy, and whether they can find a parking spot close to the front doors of your practice. While designing for the optimal customer experience in health care, heated sidewalks might be something worth considering if you live in a region that has inclement weather.

Customer experience: the welcome area

Words are important: use “atrium,” “welcome area,” or “lobby” instead of “waiting area.”

There is nothing more powerful than the first impression. The first time the patient-customer walks into your office or clinic will leave a lasting impression as to how he or she feels about your offering. Be very, very picky about what you allow on your walls and how you design your atrium space. (Notice I did not say waiting room. Words are important, so the terms atrium, welcome area, or lobby should be used instead of waiting area.)

Explain the process

Once it is time to have measurements taken of the inside and outside of your eye, the clinical team or technicians should be mindful not to use jargon that might leave patients wondering what is going on. Rather than simply doing advanced diagnostics, it is important to explain to patients what is happening at each stage of the process. We use a simple method of laminated sheets to articulate the three major points of any advanced diagnostic. With these sheets, whenever we’re doing a test, team members can explain the highlights of the technology being used, and this ensures that everything is explained in roughly the same way to each patient.

These first few stages and ideas only cover the first few areas of the customer experience in ophthalmology. We all know that there is a lot more to be done after the diagnostic work is complete. We still need to take the patient to the exam room, explain his or her surgery options, counsel the patient, and discuss different payment options. Finally, we need to cover what happens between when the patient leaves the office and later returns for surgery.

1. Bouchard S. Patient payment responsibility increases. Healthcare Finance News. June 11, 2013. Available at: http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/patient-payment-responsiblity-increases. Accessed March 21, 2013.

2. McMullen M, Netland P. Wait time as a driver of overall patient satisfaction. Clin Ophthalmol. 2013;7:1655-1660.

This article originally appeared on millennialeye.com.

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Integrating ReLACS into Today’s Practice

Refractive laser-assisted cataract surgery (ReLACS) is a simple procedure that is performed with a femtosecond laser—technology that our industry has known and loved for quite a while. The distinction between ReLACS and LACS is important because even the nomenclature is a cue that helps determine how the procedure is charged for and reimbursed.

The first femtosecond laser used for ReLACS was labeled by the FDA for four uses: the incision, the capsulorhexis, the breaking up of the lens, and arcuate incisions. This is important because three of these four items are already covered cataract services by payers.

Because of the heavy capital expense associated with using a femtosecond laser for cataract surgery, surgeons need to be aware of what they can actually charge payers for. In 2005, there was a marquee event in the advanced implant world for cataract surgery—practices were now able to charge for refractive diagnostics that, when combined with advanced IOLs, could reduce refractive errors, such as presbyopia and/or astigmatism.  This was an important event in ophthalmology because it unbundled the combined portions of the cataract surgery package that were previously locked down. Now, there are the traditional or medical components of cataract surgery, and there are the elective portions of surgery that patients might pay for additionally.

There have always been many regulations overseeing the traditional or medical components of cataract surgery. Today, practices need to understand what they can bill for and what will be reimbursed regarding the elective components of the procedure. Things that might be included in the refractive portion of the consultation are refraction, OCT, and wavefront that might be used for laser vision correction. True, many of these diagnostics may be covered with a chief complaint, but many refractive cataract surgeons feel they benefit from the information these tests provide. For the astigmatic or presbyopic lenses, the patient pays an additional fee. After surgery, there could be a laser fine-tune performed.

By navigating reimbursement appropriately for those services, practices can align the work they’re performing with the reimbursement and can find ways to add new technology, like femtosecond lasers, to their premium IOL program. This is how practices can bring this to market and set up their billing.

According to a recent survey conducted by Spectacle in association with SM2 Strategic, practices with femtosecond cataract lasers are ramping up quickly to an average of 30% laser penetration of their cataract practices. Additionally, most lasers are exceeding the volumes needed for a positive return on investment. In fact, most single-surgeon centers are achieving at least near breakeven volumes, and nearly all multi-surgeon centers are doing so.

This survey included 330 lasers that were installed by the end of 2013. Data collected cover the 35,821 ReLACS cases from January 2013 to December 2013. Surgeons averaged 741 cataracts per year, with 21% of their implants being premium IOLs (10% toric and 11% presbyopic lenses). Practices were asked whether the adoption of the laser affected the volume of cataract procedures performed by the practice. Sixty-seven percent of practices reported their volume increased, 30% said there was no change, and 3% reported that their volume decreased. Of the 35,821 laser cataract procedures performed between January 2013 and December 2013, 57% were conventional IOLs, 24% were presbyopic IOLs, and 19% were toric IOLs.

According to the survey results, 3% of surgeons felt the laser had already paid for itself, 79% felt the volume had surpassed the breakeven point, and 18% had a positive out look but had not yet broken even. Given their experience, 84% said they were likely to recommend that their peers get involved and begin performing laser cataract surgery.

This article originally appeared in EyeWorld. Click here to download a PDF version.

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Ditch the Sales Pitch: Social Media as the Gallery Wall

One of my favorite experiences is walking into a new gallery opening to view a collection of art. Especially one in which a rich context is given for the work being viewed–one in which you can trace a little golden thread weaved throughout the conceptual space. Those ideas will follow you when you leave, provoking thought and conversation days and weeks afterwards. Recently some of my favorite gallery spaces have been online – on social media.

I subscribe to the model of social media as a platform for content curation–a gallery wall on which to hang relevant and related information to inspire curiosity and build connections. This certainly isn’t the only viable use for social media, but I think it is a powerful idea that is being underutilized. And I feel strongly that a sales pitch doesn’t belong on social media, so I’d love to suggest an alternative. The big trend right now is content creation, but content curation should be just as important to your business strategy. This is particularly true of platforms like Twitter and Pinterest. The limited character count and space isn’t particularly well suited to original content, but is most powerful when you offer short insight into what a reader will find on the other end of a link. In that sense, there is a little bit of creation involved in the process as well–you’ll have to create a framework for your audience to interpret the information you are sharing for it to be truly valuable. The idea of curation as authorship is worth exploring further–and for that I’ll point you to Maria Popova’s thoughts on the matter.

Content curation is valuable to all parties involved. Your audience will be grateful that you’ve taken the time to wade through the massive amount of information available to find the most pertinent and intriguing content that meets their interests and needs. Do a good job of curating and you’ll build trust among your audience and develop credibility within your industry, all while developing a rich community. That should be a sufficient number of buzzwords to grab your attention. Remember, the key is to provide some context for why the information you are collecting and sharing is valuable. If you can’t draw any insight from it yourself, your throwing it out there for everyone else will only contribute to the clutter.

Here are a few simple tactics to help jumpstart your curation career:

  1. Only share information that you find valuable yourself.
  2. Offer some brief but insightful context for the information.
  3. Be sure to attribute information properly. For a great primer, check out The Curator’s Code.
  4. Don’t collect everything! Make sure the information is pertinent to your audience. Be focused and filter out the garbage.