Your LASIK Practice Can Flourish

antes_vs_driversMany LASIK practices still are feeling the pinch. The 2008 recession cut the LASIK market in half, and it doesn’t seem we’ll see a rebound to pre-2008 levels.  Yet within this downturn, there’s still opportunity to grow your elective vision practice. Boomers account for the largest segment of our patient demographic, with high incomes and a willingness to invest in quality-of-life improvements. The equally large Millenial generation has reached the ideal age range for LASIK, and they’ve grown up embracing technology and accepting elective procedures. LASIK can and should be on the cusp of amazing growth. But how do you capitalize on this opportunity? How do you construct a practice that’s valuable, lucrative and satisfying? You have to get very real, very fast, about what you do and how well you do it.

Practice owners of thriving LASIK centers today understand and leverage two things: antes and drivers. Antes are those requirements that allow you to open your LASIK doors. They’re all-important to customers, yet they don’t distinguish you from other providers in your market.

What are LASIK Antes?

LASIK antes include surgeon experience, proven technology, reasonable fees and elevated customer service. If we take an objective, unbiased view of our industry, what do we see?

Every surgeon performing LASIK today is experienced. Does it matter if the physician has done 1,000 cases or 50,000 cases?  The good surgeons stayed committed, and those that dabbled went away after 2008.

All LASIK technology is accurate and safe for patients — from the excimer laser to the microkeratome, topographer, aberrometer and femtosecond laser. Is one platform truly better than another? Some providers charge $1,000 per eye for LASIK, while others charge $4,000. Is there a measurable difference in patient outcomes?  The market tells us, “No,”

Many LASIK centers provide better customer service than traditional ophthalmology offices. Has this made a difference in expanding our customer base?

What are LASIK Drivers?

Deliver the vision patients want.
Make them feel valued and cared for while you’re doing it.

The LASIK market peaked at 1.4 million eyes, and held there for several years. The average fee practices collect for LASIK has gone from about $1,700 to $2,000 per eye over the last 10 years, yet incremental fee increases have been absorbed by technology investments. As a whole, we’re not doing more cases, and we’re not making more money. Yet, there are phenomenal success stories within the LASIK universe. Physicians are doing more cases; practices have become more profitable, and owners are building stellar LASIK legacies. How? They understand what drives the LASIK customer.

Drivers are a source of distinction each practice must achieve to accelerate growth. They’re important to your target customer and distinguish you from other providers. These benefits may be tangible or intangible, but my experience has been that intangibles make the difference between growth and stagnation in a LASIK practice. What are the Drivers for LASIK success? There are two.

  • Deliver the vision patients want.
  • Make patients feel valued and cared for every step of the way while you’re doing it.

I hope you feel reinvigorated about your own LASIK center and opportunities to spur growth.

By Kay Coulson, MBA, founder of Elective Medical Marketing, a Denver, CO-based consultancy focused on helping physicians grow their elective service lines. Originally published in Ophthalmology Management.  Updated June 2016.