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Here’s How You Make Fee-for-Service Patients Feel Special … And Keep Them Coming Back!

This Missouri practice’s loyalty program gives patients without vision plans a reason to visit and buy — and bring their friends…




Here’s How You Make Fee-for-Service Patients Feel Special … And Keep Them Coming Back!
Dr. Chris Boschen

Dr. Chris Boschen

LOYALTY PROGRAMS CAN be a powerful tool for encouraging repeat visits, generating referrals, building trust and fostering long-term relationships with patients and customers. In an eyecare context, they have the additional virtue of helping you hang on to patients who are not driven your way by insurance or vision plan coverage — and who therefore lack that particular incentive to return — and may hold particular appeal for those who eschew such plans because it limits their freedom of choice.

Sunshine Eye Clinic in Springfield, MO, recognized the business-growing potential of offering to patients a program that promised comprehensive care while allowing them to decide what products are best for them. Dr. Chris Boschen, one of the practice’s optometrists, walked us through the ins and outs of its Patient Loyalty Program.


According to Boschen, Sunshine’s loyalty program was born out of a desire to “provide a great value and added benefits” to patients who weren’t utilizing vision discount plans, or who had employers offering plans that the practice was not a provider for. “We wanted a way to provide the best service experience along with the best eyewear to our fee-for-service patients,” he recalls.



The program is based on a packaged exam fee that includes a retinal photo — along with built-in savings as more members of a family join the program — and includes specialty package pricing on eyewear. It is available to any patient that doesn’t use a vision discount plan for their eyewear. The practice advertises the program as including, among other things: Full comprehensive health assessment of the eyes; Optomap retinal imaging (pointing out that it often replaces dilation); priority scheduling; exclusive package pricing on eyewear and services; and a free pair of polarized sunglasses with every purchase of a year supply of contact lenses. This is all included in the price of an exam, and the fact that there are no monthly fees is stressed.

Here’s How You Make Fee-for-Service Patients Feel Special … And Keep Them Coming Back!

Sunshine Eye Clinic’s Loyalty Program is based on a package that includes exam, retinal photo and special pricing on eyewear.

According to Boschen, many participants either own or are part of a small business that doesn’t offer vision coverage; have medically driven examinations; or have chosen to opt out of their employer’s coverage to continue to see the provider of their choosing, rather than one dictated to them by their vision discount plan. “We have seen a lot of enthusiasm and satisfaction from those who are part of the program,” he says.

Marketing has been done primarily in-house, with front desk staff taking the lead in communicating the value of the program to established and new patients. Social media is also used to spread the word, but “we have found that referrals from established patients are the best source of new patients,” Boschen adds.



Boschen says the program delivers benefits to both patients and the practice. The main reward for patients is that it gives them a say over their eyecare and who provides it. “They don’t have to feel beholden to a discount vision plan that dictates who they can or can’t see,” he says. For Sunshine Eye Clinic’s team, it means being able to provide eyewear packages with products that the doctors believe are the best for a patient’s vision without compromise. “It allows us as a practice to work with our industry partners without the interference of the discount vision plans.”

Do It Yourself: Set Up a Patient Loyalty Program

  • CUSTOM FIT. Tailor your plan to the mission of your practice, says Dr. Boschen.
  • BANG FOR THEIR BUCK. “Provide added value and benefits,” he advises.
  • DREAM TEAM. Don’t forget to partner with your labs and vendors.
  • SPREAD THE NEWS. Engage with both current and future patients on the benefits of membership.
  • VIP STATUS. Stress the idea that this is a ‘relationship’ via birthday messages and other gestures for members.



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