Making the Inc. 5000 list is an impressive feat for a company. Debuting at #41 is astonishing, but that’s exactly what has happened for Dr. Contact Lens, a contact lens-ordering platform for offices co-founded by Jennifer Tabiza, OD, and Brianna Rhue, OD, FAAO, FSLS. These doctors saw a need in their own optometric practices to provide patients an easier way to order their contact. Finding nothing that matched what they wanted, they built their own six years ago.
Dr. Rhue says that she applied for the Inc. 5000 because the business had grown large enough to meet the criteria for the annual publication of the list. To be considered, a private company must meet certain revenues in 2019 versus 2022. Applicants need to substantiate their growth with tax returns, and Dr. Rhue said she got a call asking for additional paperwork, as the company’s 9144% growth was sure to place it very high on the list.
They learned of their placement in an online countdown, where an animated counter flipped through numbers and finally landed on 41 with a burst of fanfare. They also debuted as #4 on the health care category list. While Dr. Rhue says she was a little surprised by the impressive showing, she, Dr. Tabiza and early adapters have always believed in the product. They did get a boost from the drastically changing landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID RESET THE LANDSCAPE
“Our platform was ready – and doctors who had been hesitant about coming on board before the lockdown realized that having a way to provide patients their contact lens prescriptions through their offices was critical. It goes to show you that when doctors start with the patient in mind and have a way to allow staff to follow through easily, everyone wins,” she says.
Even without live meetings where they could demo their product, Dr. Tabiza and Dr. Rhue used social media groups and tech start-up connections they’re involved with to spread the word. Plus, being able to say that they both use it in their own practices is an important facet to the success. “Dr. Contact Lens costs less than $9 a day, and we supply the software and the process to the practices. We live it and we breathe it; we know what doctors and staff are up against, so we know we need a technology that is easy to use.” Practices signing up with Dr. Contact Lens could be up and running within about 7-10 days, from installation, integration with the electronic medical records and onboarding staff, she says.
What makes Dr. Contact Lens unique among patient ordering platforms is that it doesn’t tie the practice to any single vendor or distributor. “We’re different because of our user experience. You as the doctor choose how you want to do your business. We’re directly integrated with all the major distributors, so if a practice chooses to switch its business, the patient data on Dr. Contact Lens stays with the practice, not with any proprietary platform,” Dr. Rhue says. “It puts doctors in the driver’s seat.”
CAN I GET A COPY OF MY Rx?
When patients ask for a copy of their contact lens prescriptions, many doctors and staff feel defensive. “It makes your heart sink because you know they’re going to shop around. As soon as you start giving patients reasons why they should shop with you first, you’re on defense. This system puts you on offense,” she says.
Now when she’s presenting the patient her prescription and they ask for a copy of that prescription, she says, “Certainly, I’ll text it to you,” she says. “From there the patient logs into the HIPAA link that’s texted to right to them. They can easily download or print the prescription from there, but the prescription resides in the Doctor’s ordering environment. So the patients get more than a printed copy of the prescription. The platform shares any rebate information and vision plan benefits automatically calculated for the patient to purchase their lenses right then and there through the practice. So if the patient does go shop around, no one is going to match your prices,” she says.
The data shows that about 80% of patients buy from the practice when it’s a Dr. Contact Lens-issued prescription. “It’s like exiting through the gift shop. We’re giving the patient their Rx and allowing them to be consumers, but we’re also making it convenient, easy and competitive to buy from us. We’ve digitized the entire solution.”
Their own private practice backgrounds made them want to create this system for their own practices, but they saw the advantage it could bring to others. And it catapulted them to an extraordinary showing on this year’s Inc. 5000 list, which can be seen here.