What are you doing to bring in cash patients?

Many eye care practices are on numerous insurance and managed vision care (MVC) panels. These vision plans bring in patients that are members of that plan which is a marketing benefit for the practice. According to a study done by The Vision Council VisionWatch U.S Consumer Study in Q1, 2020, about 50% of U.S. adults have some form of vision coverage (ranging from 49.5% to 50.9% during the previous 5 years). That means that about 50% of adults do NOT have vision coverage, and are cash paying patients somewhere. What are you doing to capture these patients?


Quite often, eye care practices do almost no advertising to the general public, feeling that the MVC’s and insurance companies will bring patients to them. That is true, but typically reimbursement is much lower than the practices’ usual and customary fees for service. The cash paying patients are being attracted to practices that are inviting them in by way of advertising and special offers.  Your practice should be doing the same.


How much does your practice budget for advertising? And where does it go? Historically, most practices advertised in the yellow pages of their phone directory. Of course, this avenue is pretty much gone in the digital age. However you advertise, make sure you are getting some bang for your buck by tracking how patients decided to come to you. In this day, maintaining a quality website is a no-brainer and is probably the digital equivalent of the yellow pages. Past best practice for marketing dollars was 3% to 5% of revenue, so if your practice had $600,000 in sales, you would budget $18,000 to $30,000 for marketing.


It is important that you have a plan for how to spend your marketing dollars, otherwise you will just fall into the first thing that comes along. Plans should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and anchored within a Time frame. Here is an example:

Specific: We want to attract new patients for our dry eye clinic by placing posters in 10 beauty shops, doing a presentation for the Chamber of Commerce, and promoting the service on our website. Cost: $100 for ten posters, plus website pages and promotion at $1,500 for a total of $1,600.

Measurable: Our goal is to get 3 new patients for dry eye treatments per month.

Achievable: is this goal achievable? Do the equipment vendors and advisors think this is a good goal?

Realistic: Maybe 10 a week is not realistic. 3 a month should be realistic.

Time: We want to add 3 new patients a month for one year under this plan, for a total of 36 new patients.


We also want to make sure we are getting a reasonable return on our investment (ROI).  If a new dry eye patient brings in $800 per year in revenue, then 36 new patients would bring in $28,800 over the course of the plan. This would be an 18 times return on investment.


Remember, if your marketing program consists of having the MVC plans send patients to you, you will get a lot of MVC plan patients. If your marketing targets cash paying patients, you will get more cash paying patients. There is a reason the large chains spend money on advertising. If less than 30% of your patients are cash patients, then it is time to do some planning. And more importantly, take ACTION!