Top 2 Trends in Eyecare for Ophthalmology Practices to Focus on in 2024

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Chloe From Clearwave | March 25, 2024

Keeping up with the latest trends and innovations in eye care is critical for ophthalmology practices looking to acquire new patients, retain loyalty and boost revenue. As we move through 2024, there are two key eyecare trends that practices should focus on to stay competitive and meet patient demands: (1) the continued growth in demand for laser and refractive eye surgeries and (2) the need for compassionate collections.

1. Laser & Refractive Eye Surgery Demand Continues to Grow  

The demand for popular eye surgeries like LASIK, SMILE, PRK and other laser vision correction or refractive procedures continues an upwards climb. According to industry reports, demand has increased 32% since 2020 and the compound annual growth rate of the market is predicted to rise by 7.7% through 2030.

What’s driving this spike in interest? 

Several factors including:

  • Increases in vision impairment and eye disorders
  • Technological improvements reducing risk  
  • Greater patient awareness and education 
  • Interest from younger demographic groups
  • Renewed interest post-pandemic

With many of these surgeries considered elective by insurance carriers, the responsibility falls on practices to captivate patient interest and make the scheduling process seamless. After all, 60% of patients say they’d choose one doctor over another based on the ability to book appointments online.

Your Action Plan

Top-earning ophthalmology practices are focusing on patient convenience and service to boost acquisition of new refractive surgery patients while earning premium service revenue. Here are two ways to pave the way:

Use custom registration questions to drive awareness of premium services

Target your existing patients to prompt interest in refractive surgeries. Add questions to digital check-in workflows based on factors like appointment type, age, etc. This approach helped one practice gain $400K in LASIK revenue by reducing ad spend and increasing physician profits. 

Provide 24/7 online scheduling

Compete with other refractive surgery ophthalmologists by offering online scheduling 24/7. This allows you to capture after hours demand through self-service booking. Additionally, you can reduce loss of prospective patients due to long phone hold times or unanswered calls after hours. Consider putting acquisition on autopilot and watch your bookings accelerate!

2. A Surge for Compassionate Collections is Here

As practices aim for financial stability, compassionate collections have entered the spotlight across healthcare. Communicating payment obligations early is key to receiving compensation for care delivered. Letting balances accrue indefinitely only hurts patients and the practice in the long run. Educating patients before appointments is crucial to helping them understand their responsibility and preparing them to plan  ahead.

As a result, payment becomes top-of-mind rather than an afterthought. Although regulations around price transparency may shift, patients want to know costs upfront. For this reason, it’s best to meet them in the middle with clarity.

Your Action Plan

Communication and cost transparency are vital. As you shape a patient-centric intake process, focus on financial education and awareness.

Automate Accurate Patient Responsibility Estimates

To address this need and streamline the collection process, ophthalmology practices should focus on automating accurate patient responsibility estimates. This involves providing patients with a comprehensive breakdown of their expected out-of-pocket costs, including co-pays, past-due balances, and more, prior to their visit.

By leveraging digital tools to verify insurance eligibility, practices can automatically calculate patient totals based on their specific coverage, benefits and deductible details. This information can then be used to build workflows that determine estimated out-of-pocket costs for upcoming services.

Automating the patient estimations process offers numerous benefits for both practices and patients. It eliminates the need for manual estimate calculations, reduces the time spent verifying patient responsibility, and allows staff to focus on value-based tasks that directly contribute to patient care and satisfaction

Share Estimated Costs Early via Patient Reminders and Text Messages

Once these figures are calculated, initiate financial conversations with patients ahead of their visits by including payment responsibility details in appointment reminders. 

Practices can send patients estimates and securely collect any owed amounts electronically before the appointment through self-registration methods.

This pre-care outreach achieves two goals 

  1. Builds financial understanding by clarifying the patient’s portion of costs before they set foot in the practice, enabling them to arrive prepared to discuss payment options and set financial expectations. 
  2. Allows patients adequate time to arrange funds or financing ahead rather than trying to hastily budget once in the exam room or later on when care is no longer top-of-mind.  

This could be crucial considering ophthalmology patients often pay higher out of pocket premiums for elective services. With financial obligation top-of-mind earlier in the care journey, patients can play an active role and come in ready to resolve balances due or finalize payment plans based on estimates provided. This approach facilitates patient engagement, eases point-of-care financial discussions for staff and sets your practice up for on-time payments and faster reimbursement.

Preparing for What’s Ahead

As patient demands and industry shifts occur, ophthalmology practices must actively prepare by implementing solutions that address emerging trends. Focusing on the growth in refractive surgeries and compassionate collections will be vital in 2024. Though the path forward may require workflow changes, the payoff of increased patient loyalty, new revenue streams and a competitive edge are well worth the effort.

Want a comprehensive overview of the top trends impacting ophthalmology? Download our guide: “Top 7 Trends Ophthalmology Practices Will Face in 2024” to get an in-depth look at the critical data and strategies to help your practice acquire more patients and maximize revenue all year long.

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