September 1, 2023
By Dwight Akerman, OD, MBA, FAAO, FBCLA, FIACLE
One of the most uncomfortable conversations for optometrists is discussing myopia management fees with parents. Since myopia management is a sub-specialty, professional expertise and therapies are more expensive. Many optometrists delegate these discussions entirely to poorly trained staff, while others muck through the conversation with mixed success. So, what do successful practices do differently to have more parents say “YES” to the prescribed therapy regimen?
All the work establishing value for your expertise and treatments should have been done before you discuss fees with the parents of a myopic child. As discussed in the August 1st edition of Review of Myopia Management, because most parents have never heard of myopia management or the eye health dangers of myopia, excellent communication is essential to get the parents to say “YES” to your recommended treatment plan. Great eye care professionals communicate with their patients in a way that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. They take the time to listen to patient and parental concerns and answer any questions they may have…all while staying on schedule.
Patients should already be convinced that your recommended treatment plan is in the best interest of their child. Present the global fee package and then stop talking. Often, patients will accept the fee package immediately, so don’t interrupt an impending affirmative response with further explanation.
When parents are uncomfortable with myopia management fees, optometrists often become defensive or overexplain fees, creating further hesitation. Remember that your professional services and expertise aren’t for everybody. Be willing to accept that some parents will “think about it” and never return with their child or simply ask for single-vision glasses or contact lenses for their child. The takeaway message is don’t over-defend or overexplain your fees.
A much-debated question is: should optometrists present myopia management (or any other) fees, or should trained staff do it? There is no right or wrong answer to this persistent question. Some optometrists choose not to discuss fees at all because they are uncomfortable with it and believe it is unprofessional. Instead, they enlist their “Myopia Manager” or “Myopia Management Specialist” to explain fees to parents and close the prescribed treatment plan.
It is not uncommon for doctors to avoid discussing fees. Many physicians, including ophthalmologists, do not discuss fees whatsoever because their time and expertise are better utilized in direct patient care. Instead, they hand over patients to highly skilled staff members who understand the fee schedule, insurance coverage (if any), and payment options.
You can have the most remarkable clinical skills in the world, but your influence and impact will significantly diminish if you and your staff cannot persuade parents to follow your recommendations and accept your fees. The more confident you and your staff are with your myopia management fees, the more confident parents will be in accepting your recommendations.
Best professional regards,
Dwight H. Akerman, OD, MBA, FAAO, FBCLA, FIACLE
Chief Medical Editor