Are you looking for a way to stand out from the crowd and provide services that will improve your patients' health? Lifestyle and nutrition counseling offers an excellent way to increase revenue and provide value.
Lifestyle and Nutrition Counseling Services Complement the Vision Care Services You Offer
Most patients understand that the food they eat and the lifestyle choices they make can cause or prevent health conditions or diseases. Unfortunately, the connection between diet and eye disease isn't quite as well known. When you offer lifestyle and nutrition counseling in your optometric practice, you give patients the tools they need to protect and preserve their vision.
In 2001, National Eye Institute researchers discovered that study participants who took high dosages of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper reduced their risk of developing age related macular degeneration. Although the formula was later change to remove beta-carotene and lower the amount of zinc, the combination continues to offer important benefits to AMD patients.
Other lifestyle advice, such as keeping weight and blood glucose under control, can help patients who have diabetes avoid the devastating effects of diabetic retinopathy. Although you may have shared diet and lifestyle information with patients, a brief discussion of diet and lifestyle changes often doesn't have the same impact as nutrition counseling sessions.
Don't Medical Doctors Already Provide Nutrition Counseling?
Although medical doctors may seem like the ideal practitioners to provide nutritional advice, nutrition wasn't on the course list until recently in many medical schools and still isn't emphasized in some schools. According to a July 2015 Academic Medicine article, just 27 percent of U.S. medical schools offer the recommended 25 hours of coursework on nutrition. The article noted that those 25 hours cover biochemistry, not diet or food choices.
If MDs aren't providing the nutritional information, chances are that patients aren't getting it anywhere else. By offering lifestyle and nutritional counseling, you provide a much-needed service that will help your patients improve their general and eye health.
How Can I Offer Counseling?
You might not have the time to become a nutrition expert, but you can still offer counseling to your patients. Partnering with a nutritional counselor ensures that your patients will receive the information they need to make healthy choices. You'll benefit from every referral when you set up a revenue sharing agreement with the counselor. Whether patients meet with the counselor in his or her office or you offer space in your office, you'll be providing a valuable service to your patients. During sessions, patients receive information about the ways nutrients support eye health and get advice about fitness, food choices, meal plans and supplements.
Nutritional Supplement Sales Offer an Additional Revenue Stream
In addition to offering nutritional and lifestyle counseling, you may also want to consider selling nutritional supplements. When you provide supplements for sale in your office, patients may be more likely to follow through with recommendations. Plus, they won't have to make a special trip to the store to purchase the supplements they need.
Nutrition and lifestyle counseling offers an excellent way to differentiate your practice from your competitors. Best of all, the service can help your patients avoid serious eye disease or reduce the chance of complications from an existing disease.
Optometric Management: Clinical: Nutrition
Academic Medicine: Nutrition Education in an Era of Global Obesity and Diabetes, July 2015
National Eye Institute: What the AREDS Means for You, May 2013
Optometry Times: ODs Can Be Trusted Source for Advice on Nutritional Supplements