How To Get More Patients Into Your Optometry Or Ophthalmology Practice

Some eye care practices already have all the patients they want or need, and don’t really want to add to their schedules.  But most of us want to get more patients through the door to maintain and grow our practices.  Here are some tips to bring in new patients.

  1. Your best prospective customers are the patients that already come through your doors. Are you maximizing your opportunities with these patients by making sure you are providing for all of their visual needs? Examples would include eyewear for computers/screens: according to studies, 70% of screen users report visual complaints.  Another example: polarized sunwear.  One of the most overlooked uses for polarized eyewear is driving, as sun glare is responsible for 30% of all vehicle accidents.
  2. Adopt specialties. One huge advantage of specialties is that you don’t have to give “special offers” or discount your fees to attract new patients. It also raises your reputation as an expert in particular aspects of eye care.  Some ideas are dry eye, sports vision, myopia control, orhto k, visual therapy, dark adaptation, and computer vision.  Get the knowledge and equipment you need to be an authority on the subject, then begin marketing to the appropriate groups.
  3. Marketing. The “classical” number for private practice marketing expenses is 3% of sales (so a practice generating $500,000 in deposits would allocate $15,000 for marketing). Commercial eye care practices typically have a much higher advertising budget, often 7% to 10% of sales. Over the past 30 years, many Eye Care Providers (ESP’s) have reduced their advertising budget, and joined managed vision care (MVC) plans to have access to their group of patients.  As a result, these ECP’s are getting the MVC patients, but often miss out on private pay patients.  We recommend allocating 3% to 5% of income to marketing.  It might also make sense to hire an advertising agency for a year or two to get a solid and effective plan in place.
  4. Spend time in the community. Most eye doctors do this when they start practicing, but often reduce efforts after a few years. Join the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce (or whatever organizations make sense in your community), and be active in the organizations.  Rub elbows with a lot of people to get new patients as friendships develop.
  5. Market to the area schools. Schools are a social hotbed of activity. Great products and services to market to schools include sunglasses, “screen” lenses for computer work and gaming, sports and protective eyewear, and even screening services.  And market to both the students and staff!

These are a few ideas, of course there are many more!  Don’t limit your creativity.  YOU know your community and how best to bring your services and products to their mind.