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    ODs’ top 4 gripes about vision care plans: Part 5—Misleading information and misinformation


    2. Sign the form

    Included within our patient intake paperwork is education and acknowledgement language about the difference in medical insurance and VCPs.

    Figure 1

    Figure 1 is the simple form we use as part of our patient intake paperwork. This form allows questions to be answered before the exam begins and sets the patien’s expectations that we will be able to manage and treat his medical eye conditions.

    Related: How I am embracing the medical model in optometry

    3. Techs wear scrubs

    Over the years we went back on forth on office uniforms. Should we have our staff wear scrubs or should we do another uniform? Ultimately, listening to staff and patients led us to use scrubs for our uniform.

    Our staff thinks wearing scrubs makes patients understand that we are more medical in nature. This subtle but important psychological positioning makes conversations easier when discussing medical conditions.

    Our staff believes this also helps them get a better patient history. The patient understands we want and need to know about his general health—not just their vision.

    4. Communicate

    This is one of those must-dos if you want to avoid problems. Nothing is worse than a patient at the front desk yelling that you are billing her medical insurance and all she wants is a pair of glasses. Never mind that she has diabetes, cataracts, and glaucoma.

    If this happens in your office, then all I can say is that it is your own fault.

    It means you did not communicate with the patient on what you were doing during the exam. You may have told him about all the disease, but did you tell him these are medical conditions so your office will bill his medical insurance? The doctor providing the care must communicate with the patient.

    Related: 8 tips to make the most of your event experience

    5. Be consistent

    You must be consistent and have a process and protocol in place for how you manage and bill patients. A sure-fire way to get audited and find yourself in deep trouble is to not be consistent with patient management and billing.

    I have seen this happen when a husband and wife come in and are billed or treated differently. If your office has more than one doctor, then it becomes even more imperative to have a process to make sure everyone is billing the same. For multi-practice and multi-doctor locations, standardization of the billing process is critical.


    As a profession, it is imperative that we deliver quality medical eye care to our patients. While managed VCPs often send wrong or mixed messages to patients, it is the OD’s responsibility to clarify and educate patients about their VCPs.

    By implementing standard processes and protocols in your office, you can educate your patients and avoid complaints or awkward moments in regard to billing.

    I look forward to your questions and comments. Email me at [email protected].

    Read more from Dr. Spear here

    Carl H. Spear, OD, MBA, FAAO
    Dr. Spear owns a multi-location group practice with his wife Dr. Katie Gilbert Spear in Pensacola, FL. Dr. Spear is commander of the ...


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