Adding Ortho-K to Our Practice

A year ago we made the decision to attend the Ortho-K Conference in Chicago to investigate whether we should add ortho-k to our practice. As you can imagine many factors went into our decision. Mainly, the young OD I had recently hired felt very strongly about it being her moral and ethical duty to treat children and attempt to slow or prevent the progression of their myopia to reduce their future risk of retinal detachments and glaucoma.

As the business owner, I needed to make sure it was a smart decision fiscally. Investing in a corneal topographer and a fitting set would cost over $16,000. How many patients would we need to see to become profitable? How much time and money would be needed to promote and market ortho-k which is not well known in our community since no OD’s are currently offering it?

Our community is fortunate to have families with disposable income (ortho-k is not covered by insurance) and many new young families are moving to the area because of a chip manufacturing plant located nearby. We have long been established as a kid-oriented family practice and are the only local practice willing to offer Infant-See exams for 6-12 month olds. We used to have a behavioral OD and still get many referrals from local school nurses and OT’s.

We decided that although many patients would benefit from Ortho-k, we would focus primarily on 8-18 year olds. Phase two, we will launch a campaign aimed at athletes and triathletes that are myopic and finally phase three, we will market to our dry eye patients. We learned that the Asian population already has a heightened awareness of ortho-k and in fact families in our community have been driving four and five hours each way to obtain ortho-k for their children. How do we reach them?

After we decided to add ortho-k to our practice, we visited a highly successful ortho-k practice in New Jersey, a five hour trip each way. The doctor and I spent the day shadowing the two ODs as they went through their day. They floated between three exam rooms each, with a tech efficiently getting the patients ready before they entered and finishing up when the doctor left.

Patient’s parents were then presented with a contract and a two year plan by the doctor’s technician. Fees were determined by estimated complexity of fit and time required. Fees included all future visits lenses and a spare pair. We decided to copy this model in our own practice.

We are finally through the first handful of fits and we are about to really become aggressive with our marketing in hopes that we will build momentum through word of mouth and social media.  We have very satisfied and successful patients to date and our on line reviews are excellent.

The first year has been a been a bit like pushing a giant boulder uphill but I think our hard work is about to pay off and I would encourage others to consider ortho-k as a valuable addition to their practices.