I’m noticing a significant uptick in questions from our EDGEPro users about a recent jump in patient-owned frames (POF). When a patient chooses to re-use their old frame, it brings its own set of challenges for both eyecare providers and patients.
It seems like a no-brainer to expect sales rates to fall in economically challenging climates, and POF eyewear orders can take a pretty big bite out of your bottom line. So, it pays to think ahead and be prepared to answer patient questions about it. You can help to mitigate the potential loss of sales by implementing some thoughtful strategies. Help your patients understand that their eyewear may not be the best place to cut back. It could potentially cost them even more or reduce their visual comfort. Remember that your goal isn’t just raising sales numbers; you also want your patients to have a positive outcome.
The Challenge: Patients are Re-using Their Old Frames More Often
Over the past year, there’s been a noticeable rise in patients opting to order new lenses but use their own frames. We’re noticing it especially in private-pay, those patients who are self-financing their eyewear out-of-pocket. This trend can be a major hurdle for the optical, reducing profits for the business and causing potential problems for patients.
One significant challenge involves the risk of frame breakage during the lens replacement process. When a frame breaks, it can cause frustration for both the patient and the eyecare provider. A broken frame would result in a complete eyewear overhaul, and unnecessary expense for the patient. There’s also a potential risk of losing the frame in transit to the lab, causing unwelcome delays and added stress. Furthermore, patients who rely solely on their POF may find themselves without proper vision correction during the servicing period, which is uncomfortable and inconvenient.
The Economics of Patient-Owned Frames
The surge in patient-owned frames is likely a response to economic challenges, including the ever-rising cost of living and inflation. In times when every dollar counts, individuals may be exploring ways to save, even in the realm of eyecare. Patients may view reusing their old frames as a practical financial move, so it’s up to the eyecare provider to guide patients in making the wisest choice for their eyewear purchase. That includes deciding whether to purchase new frames or reuse the old ones.
Innovative Solutions for Eyecare Providers
To address the challenges posed by POF and provide a smoother experience for both patients and eyecare providers, there are some creative solutions to consider:
- Keep track of how many patients are opting for their own frames, with the aim of gradually reducing this number. Progress can be made, even though you’ll never entirely eliminate POF.
- Introducing a patient-owned frames fee could be a wise move. This fee can help cover the extra labor and potential risks associated with working on existing frames. It also encourages patients to explore other options.
- Maintaining a selection of value frames on hand is a practical approach. These frames can be offered to patients who may encounter difficulties with their old frames, but are unwilling – or unable – to invest in more expensive options.
Effective Patient Communication
Clear and open communication with patients is vital to successfully implementing these strategies:
- When patients express their preference for using their own frames, it’s essential to have a conversation about potential challenges, such as frame breakage, and the possibility of needing to start from scratch. Don’t forget to review any changes to warranty caused by using an older frame.
- Remember to inform your patients that the POF fee doesn’t apply when selecting a new frame from the office’s selection.
- Offering a value frame as an alternative, especially when issues are anticipated with their old frame, can benefit both the patient and the eyecare office. However, make sure you avoid offering value frames as a first option. You could easily talk yourself out of higher-dollar sales that some patients might otherwise choose.
By implementing these strategies, eyecare offices can expect several positive outcomes: increased revenue, reduced staff stress, and better overall patient satisfaction.
Patient-Owned Frames are definitely on the rise, and it could be partly due to economic considerations. However, by adopting innovative solutions and having frank conversations with patients, eyecare providers can navigate the challenges posed by POF, ensuring a positive experience for all involved.