With a five-star Google rating based on her service and attention, Brittney McWilliams, OD, values transparency in optical pricing as part of her plan to keep her service levels top-notch. Dr. McWilliams uses Anagram to show her patients up front what they can expect to pay versus the multiple calculations that accompany most vision plan pricing scales.
She started her practice, McWilliams Vision Care, after having leased a space for optometric services inside an optical for four years. When that optical closed in 2016, she opened a full-service practice up the road in her town of Evansville, Indiana. “I had the business already, and I was adding the optical piece,” she says. “The previous optical wasn’t taking any vision plans, so I was building on a patient base that was accustomed to that.” For the most part, Dr. McWilliams was comfortable carrying on with this pattern, but when it came to pricing her frames, contact lenses and exams, she wanted to find a competitive fee balance to keep her patient base growing.
TRANSPARENCY IN PRICING
“Vision insurance is confusing to patients,” says Dr. McWilliams. “With Anagram, instead of referring to the plan details, which feels gimmicky to patients, my opticians can state the cost of the lenses, any charge for a lens upgrade and then subtract the flat reimbursement of their vision plan.”
“Our practice philosophy is patient service,” says Dr. McWilliams. By using Anagram, her opticians can tell her patients, “We know your benefits; we understand them, and we can help you use them to the best advantage.” The system works like a well-oiled machine; patients pay the practice the full price, and the opticians email the patient about four to six weeks later to confirm that the patient has received the reimbursement from the vision plan company.
Along with the jungle of managed vision details that patients must wade through, most patients are also confused between professional service fees and material costs in ODs’ offices. The scheduler collects the patients’ medical and vision coverage information when scheduling an appointment, and for each patient, Dr. McWilliams prepares a report that is presented upon arrival. This report breaks down the cost for the professional services, including co-pays as required by the patient’s plan.
Dr. McWilliams is not one to shy away from discussing billing issues with patients directly. “I did my own billing for nine years, so I am familiar with it,” she says. “As they’re taken back for pretesting, they’re told what the cost of their visit will be. There’s no surprise.” Dr. McWilliams is prepared to not take it personally should the patient walk away. “I have, maybe, two a year who do that,” she says, “I want the relationship to be transparent.
Dr. McWilliams and her practice use a local lab in their area because they are not tied to any requirements for a vision plan lab. “We want to be able to make eyeglasses with the best quality for the best experience, and we like to keep control. We can do that because we are not part of the vision plans.” The lab use also allows Dr. McWIlliams’ practice to carry some unique brand lines. “It’s good quality at an affordable price.”
ANSWERS IN SECONDS
With Anagram, Dr. McWilliams has streamlined the process of calculating the costs for a patient. “It takes seconds to calculate optical totals as a flat fee versus our optician spending 15 or 20 minutes calculating vision plan coverages and co-pays.” If a patient should choose to find their frames somewhere else, Dr. McWilliams is ready for that, too. The patient receives a copy of the prescription, making it possible for them to search for another in-network provider. So far, that strategy has worked out very well.
Even those patients who think that they’ll save money by taking their prescription to an in-network provider often return to her practice. “We have a few reviews online where patients explain that they weren’t sure they were getting the best deal with us, so they went to look at eyeglasses with an in-network provider, and it was going to be more expensive,” she says.
“Anagram is great to work with. The company is adding more functionality and more data on vision plans, and it’s easy to communicate with them,” says Dr. McWilliams. Doctors believe in data, and for Dr. McWilliams, that data-sharing continues through to helping her patients make informed choices