Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be a touchy subject in optometry, particularly among clinicians who do not derive a direct benefit from the financial success of the business. Optometry holds a unique position in the healthcare sector as an optical practice’s revenue can depend heavily on retail sales and not just its eyecare services.¹ However, the successful and smooth running of an optometry clinic can’t be monitored or improved without identifying – and closely following – certain KPIs or metrics.
How Can Metrics and KPIs Help?
Monitoring metrics in your optical practice can offer insights into how your business is tracking. For example, you can gain understanding about:
- Which part of your practice is generating the most revenue
- Where you’re potentially losing revenue
- Areas of underperformance
- Which aspects of your practice could benefit from changing things up
- Whether your practice is growing, not moving, or declining from year to year
Some clinicians feel that monitoring metrics and KPIs can have a negative impact on clinical autonomy and integrity as a healthcare professional. Instead of making honest recommendations to their patients, an optometrist may feel pressured to push for premium but unnecessary products to meet sales targets or suggest services such as OCT imaging without indication.
The balance of the business’ financial sustainability with integrity in clinical practice should never be tipped so far in favour of profits that the clinician risks stepping outside of regulatory compliant behaviour.
6 Metrics to Keep an Eye on This Year
Metrics are often thought to revolve around finances and profits, which is why the concept of KPIs among healthcare practitioners often gets a bad rap. However, this doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. Metrics can also be based around improving patient satisfaction or monitoring the standard clinical care.
The exact metrics you choose to focus on can be unique to your practice. An optometry practice establishing itself as the local go-to for paediatric eye care may decide to create a goal based around how many school screenings it performs per year. Conversely, a clinic with interest in ocular disease may monitor the metrics around how many glaucoma patients they are actively co-managing with an ophthalmologist.
There are, however, certain metrics that all optometry businesses should be keeping an eye on. These enable you to make informed decisions about your practice.
1. New patient growth
Unsurprisingly, a practice that intends to grow needs to be bringing in new patients. Familiar faces are undoubtedly a good thing (as seen in the next point below), but one patient can only purchase so many lenses in their lifetime.
Is your practice attracting new patients? Is the rate of new patients increasing, decreasing, or staying stagnant? Analysing this metric enables you to look further into how you can bring new patients into your practice. If all your appointments are taken up with existing patients, you may need to consider blocking out spots exclusively for new patients. If it’s because your shop is tucked away in a quiet street and no one has heard of you, that might mean it’s time to look into some marketing.
2. Patient retention
If patients are not coming back after they’ve seen you once, you’ve got a problem. Sure, you could possibly exist solely on seeing first-time patients if you’ve got the volume, but if these patients are not returning, something needs to change.
Take a careful look at the patient experience, from when they book an appointment to the follow-up after they’ve left the practice. Do you have a clinician or dispenser with an abrasive personality? Are patients spending excessive amounts of time waiting to be seen? Is your booking system efficient and easy to use? Are your frames and lenses appropriately priced for your patient demographic?
3. Average revenue per patient
The revenue per patient is the annual revenue your practice brings in divided by the number of exams conducted. This includes the billing for the consultation (whether private billing or bulk billing), any additional services (such as retinal imaging or OCT scans), and whether the patient made a purchase (contact lenses, frames, repairs, contact lens solutions, accessories, sunglasses).
It should be noted that, as for any metric taken in isolation, the revenue per patient is not the whole picture. You may calculate a very high value here but it may only be high because you saw very few patients who tend to spend a lot. So, while you can give yourself a pat on the back for achieving this KPI, you would still want to look at improving your patient numbers.
4. Revenue sources
An analysis of your top streams of revenue can help you to understand where to focus your efforts. Once you’ve identified your most profitable products and services, you can look into expanding these offerings. Conversely, identifying those areas that are underperforming enables you to make improvements.
Sources of revenue to look into include frames, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and consultations. Going deeper, you could also consider breaking products down into brands, to see which are your most popular (and least popular).
5. Conversion rate
Also known as capture rate, this is a popular one touted by practice owners to their employee optometrists. The conversion rate is the number of patients who made a purchase (spectacles or contacts) divided by the number of consultations. In essence, how many patients are buying things after they’ve had an appointment.
Depending on the capabilities of your practice software, this metric can be difficult to measure as the calculation may include absolutely all appointments, including reviews for a red eye or contact lens re-teach, consultations which don’t typically end in a sale. However, used well, this metric can help you to understand how effective your staff are at presenting the products, whether you’re offering the best products for your patient demographic, and even whether your patients are getting a good experience at your clinic. A patient satisfied with their examination, overall experience, and with your frames/lenses and prices, is more likely to make a purchase.
6. Patient complaints
As far as metrics go, this is one number you’ll want to keep as low as possible. Dissatisfied and unhappy patients don’t make a purchase and they don’t come back. Furthermore, they tend to tell their friends and family about their terrible experience, hurting your future practice growth and sales.
If you’ve tracked an increase in the number of patient complaints, ask yourself why. Is there a correlation with changing lens labs? Or have complaints risen since hiring that new staff member? It may take some sleuthing to get to the root cause, but is certainly a necessity.
Though the thought of metrics and KPIs can often be distasteful to healthcare professionals, they do offer significant insight into the practice. Non-financial metrics can be used to improve clinical services while financial KPIs offer insight to power business growth.
- Optometry Victoria South Australia. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and optometry. https://www.optometry.org.au/. 2020. Available at: https://www.optometry.org.au/wp-content/uploads/States/VIC/Documents/OVSA_KPI_summary_2020_v4.pdf.Eyes on Eyecare. The Ultimate Guide to Eyecare Metrics by EDGEPro and GPN. https://eyesoneyecare.com/. 2020. Available at: https://eyesoneyecare.com/resources/ultimate-guide-eyecare-metrics-edgepro-gpn/. (Accessed January 2024).Anagram. 9 optical metrics you should be tracking. https://www.anagram.care/. 2021. Available at: https://www.anagram.care/blog/retail-optical-benchmarks. (Accessed January 2024).