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OD Shares 10 Tactics for Successfully Dispensing Light-Reactive Lenses from the Chair
On June 24th, Jim Winnick, OD, headlined day two of UUniversity’s inaugural Photochromic Fest, presenting on how he’s built a successful light-reactive lens business by dispensing from the chair. His presentation was so widely requested, we partnered with UUniversity to pull it from the event and post it here with a full transcript.
The following is a sponsored presentation prepared and presented by Dr. James Winnick in his personal capacity for UUniversity. The opinions expressed in the video and accompanying transcript are his own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Vision Service Plan or its affiliates.
Be sure to read all the way through to the end to see a list of Dr. Winnick’s 10 chairside dispensing tips for success.
Thanks for everybody spending some time to learn more about light-reactive lenses. I really appreciate UUniversity letting me give kind of some doctor perspectives on some of the excellent information that AJ gave you guys. That was a good technical background on the newest generation lenses and all the pros that are available with that new technology.
So, one thing to stress that he mentioned over and over again is just what we call these lenses, and light reactive really is what you want to train probably yourself and your staff because for a long time, the leading competitor, Transitions®, was the name that people used and still use. And that's important for staff training because especially if perhaps you're moving over from using Transitions® lenses in the past to now you're adopting SunSync products through VSP, you have to train your staff that when the patient is asking for Transitions®, they're not asking for that specific product. They're asking for a light-reactive lens. And light reactive works a lot better than photochromic. Photochromic is the technical name, but it's kind of too scientific for most people, so that light reactive title works really well.
My key in my practice... and I do a lot of consulting with practices, especially when they are considering moving over to [SunSync] products and looking at what's more successful than not in practices, and the most successful practices seem to be the ones that share the education of light-reactive lenses as an option or just all lens types and lens options, both with the doctor, as well as the staff. And I know that's called in the industry chairside dispensing.
So I'm not going to tell you how to run your practice, but I do want to suggest that having the opportunity to look at a lot of statistics over a lot of different groups, practices that do significantly better in adoption of lens recommendations, lens options, and second sets really have that chairside component with the doctor spending some time talking to the patient, specifically about the needs for the optical side of their visit.
"Practices that do significantly better in adoption of lens recommendations, lens options, and second sets really have that chairside component with the doctor spending some time talking to the patient.”
So how do I accomplish that in my office? I have very little paperwork in my office. Everything's done on iPads™ . But one of the only pieces of paper that I do have patients fill out is a lifestyle questionnaire, and it's a lifestyle questionnaire that focuses primarily on their visual needs because the vast majority of my patients are coming in for visual exams. I have a dry eye questionnaire, and I have my medical forms as well, but that lifestyle questionnaire really has helped reinforce the process throughout the office with making sure that the patient gets exactly what they need in lens options and second-pair sales
So, when they come into the room, let's assume they're a new patient. Of course, I'm going to introduce myself, get them to know the practice. But one of the very first things that I ask all my patients is, "What's your goal for today?" They're probably there mainly for a visual exam, and what's their expectation before I really say anything, what they hope to accomplish after their visit with me.
So that gives me a feel, and then usually, I'm not actually going over the lifestyle questionnaire with them. I'm just glancing at it to give me cues. And then I'm going to go up into my chief complaint for the exam and complete my exam. There might be conversations as I go with things I find. Of course, we're going to address all of the ocular health and general health issues that go along with the exams we deliver.
But then at the end, if they're going to be pursuing some type of new glasses, then I'm going to make an active effort to give them some pretty solid recommendations as far as categories of lenses, whether, let's say I've got a presbyope. I do an awful lot of computer glass work, a lot of VDT glasses. So I'm talking about progressives, I'm talking about boost lenses, and I'm also talking about all the lens options. Anti-reflective coating, I'm recommending that to every single patient, seven days a week, and twice on Sunday. I have over a 75% acceptance of anti-reflective coating in my practice.
And with that discussion, I put in there, "Would you like your lenses to turn dark when they go outside?" And that's exactly how I term it. So I might... it is a specific question on my lifestyle questionnaire. So if I've got a big old capital No on there, I'm not going to push the issue. But many patients put a question mark or say, "I don't know." They do want to know more about it. So I'm going to ask them the question, and I'm also going to... and I'm in the Central Valley of California, so I have a very large percentage of VSP patients.
So, I'm using my VSP authorization to see what they're covered for. And a large portion of patients are covered for photochromic or light reactive lenses. And I want to make sure they know that, because when my patient is on the fence, you can just kind of get that sense where they're like, "Well, I don't know." It's like well, it's a very easy discussion when you say, "Well, it's free under your plan." So remember AJ said that under VSP, they have a one-year guarantee as far as if they don't like the lenses, bring them on back, and we'll redo them for free. The only thing that you lose is the time that you have to bring the lenses in to send them back to the lab.
So, a combination of having patients with covered photochromics under their plan, as well as that one-year guarantee really does help drive utilization of the technology. As a AJ said, the national rate outside of VSP, I think, was in the mid-teens. VSP is around 23%. My practice has over 33% as far as utilization with SunSync lenses. And I think a lot of that has to do with how we approach it and discuss it from the chair all the way over to the optician.
"My practice has over 33% as far as utilization with SunSync lenses. And I think a lot of that has to do with how we approach it and discuss it from the chair all the way over to the optician.”
Now, if chairside dispensing isn't your thing and you just don't want to go that way, you've got a lot of good support material as far as making sure your opticians have that information, so they can convey it as well. One of the biggest tools that I use in my practice, I've actually acquired from my labs lens blanks of all of the different technology. I had them laid out in a white-backed, folding lens holder. It includes all of the SunSync products, as well as the competitive products.
And so, when people have questions about comparing performance, we literally can take that whole thing outside, bring it back in, and they can see exactly how they perform. And probably one of the biggest positives when it comes to the SunSync product, if we don't tell them what product it is, they end up picking either the SunSync Elite or the SunSync Elite XT product just based on the performance they're witnessing during that demonstration.
So, a couple other pearls as far as talking to patients about light-reactive lenses, don't over-promise. I mean, we know we've discussed the pros and cons. AJ covered that very nicely. I position light-reactive lenses as a wonderful addition to your clear pair to give you UV protection and visual comfort with your clear pair while you're outside. It's not a substitution for a good polarized pair of sunglasses. And I'm saying that on purpose because I still want to deliver a good pair of sunglasses to my patient, in addition to their light-reactive lenses or clear lenses if that's the path they choose.
"I position light-reactive lenses as a wonderful addition to your clear pair to give you UV protection and visual comfort with your clear pair while you're outside. It's not a substitution for a good polaroid pair of sunglasses."
So, two major products. I really only use the SunSync Elite and the SunSync Elite XT. The SunSync product, the conventional product, I use that in my value package if I have somebody that's looking for economical alternative, that patient that says, "Well, I'm going to Costco or Walmart." I have a value package in my practice that is very comparable to that type of lens technology offered in those chain stores. So that's where that product falls.
But with SunSync Elite and SunSync Elite XT with especially the newer generation of the XT product, I really find that that is my go-to product for the majority of my patients. It's kind of transitioned over the last year, year and a half, where SunSync Elite was my primary recommendation. When I say, "Would you like to have the lenses turn dark in the car," most people are like, "Well, yeah, I'd love that." So we'll start there.
But again, create proper expectations. It's not going to be a substitution for that pair of dedicated sunglasses, especially for, for instance, professional drivers. There are a lot of variables in a car that will affect how dark they turn. Remember when we were talking about heat. I am in the California Central Valley, so I'm in a hotter than average environment for a good portion of the year, another reason why that XT product seems to be popular because it does turn darker in the higher heat.
"I'm in a hotter than average environment for a good portion of the year, another reason why that [SunSync] XT product seems to be popular because it does turn darker in the higher heat.”
Other tips. One more tip that AJ mentioned in many of his slides, but didn't talk about specifically was the blue light protection. And that's important because remember, I told you, I'm a huge anti-reflective coating recommendation practice. And I do an awful lot of blue light protection, anti-reflective coats. But an important key and something that I find surprising that doctors aren't picking up on is that if you have a patient that is choosing to go with a light reactive lens, I hope you're still recommending an anti-reflective coat.
"If you have a patient that is choosing to go with a light reactive lens, I hope you're still recommending an anti-reflective coat.”
But if you're doing that, you don't have to recommend a blue blocking, anti-reflective coat on top of the photochromic lens. Light reactive lenses inherently have blue blocking protection, and you're not getting extra protection when you put a blue blocking, anti-reflective coating on top of that.
There's a couple of negatives to doing that. It can result in a negative appearance for the patient. It'll end up with more of that bluish tinge that was especially true in earlier generation lenses. And when you're talking about extra reactive lenses, if you put a blue blocking anti-reflective coat on top of those, you actually can affect the performance of that lens because now we're using both UV and visible light spectrum for that lens to turn dark.
"If you put a blue blocking anti-reflective coat on top of those, you actually can affect the performance of that lens because now we're using both UV and visible light spectrum for that lens to turn dark."
So hopefully, one doctor pearl that wasn't mentioned earlier that you'd pick up from my part of the talk is I want you to recommend light-reactive lenses, especially when you've got those VSP patients with covered options and with that one-year guarantee. My age demographic is actually pretty flat across the board. I've got a lot of younger patients that are actually asking for light-reactive lenses, so that's been a pleasant trend in my practice.
"I want you to recommend light-reactive lenses, especially when you've got those VSP patients with covered options and with that one-year guarantee”
But, if you recommend light-reactive lenses in combination with that anti-reflective coat, you don't want to be using TechShield Blue or other blue blocking products. You want to use TechShield Elite or a regular clear anti-reflective coating. And that's going to be your best combination for lens optics performance with a light-reactive lens and an anti-reflective coating.
Dr. Winnick’s 10 Tips for Dispensing Success with Light-Reactive Lenses
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UUniverity is a trademark and Techshield is a registered trademarks of Plexus Optix, Inc. VSP is a registered trademark of Vision Service Plan. Transitions is a registered trademark of Transitions Optical, Inc. iPad is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc. All other marks, product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners. Use of these marks, names, logos, and/or brands does not imply endorsement.