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Two Birds, One Stone

How I protect my patients and build my business with dark adaptation testing

By Tammy Tully, OD

When I brought dark adaptation testing into my practice with the AdaptDx tabletop device, it was with the goal of providing elite eye care to my at-risk patients. The decision was easy: age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in patients over 55, and almost half of my patients are between the ages of 60 and 90.

We knew that with new discoveries for the treatment of neovascular AMD, it was important to detect the disease as early as possible. When we got our device, we began testing patients with night vision complaints. After two years of this testing model, we began to wonder: are we missing AMD?

As an optometrist, I needed to know. If we were missing AMD, how was this affecting our patients?

As a practice owner, I was also concerned. If we were missing AMD, how was this affecting our business?

Modifying Our Protocol

To ensure that we were doing the right thing for our patients, we changed our approach to test every patient over 50 on the day of their exam. I told my staff, No, really. We’re testing everyone over 50, no matter what. Do not pass ‘Go.’ Do not collect $200. But we also wanted to know: would we find more AMD? Would this help our practice?

After comparing data for July through August 2018, using our original testing model, to data from the same months in 2019 with our new everyone-over-50 testing protocol, it was clear we had made the right move. In fact, the difference was staggering.

Once we began testing dark adaptation speed for every patient over 50, billable tests increased by 265%, from 17 billable tests per month to 63. Between billable testing and ancillary imaging for our AMD patients, we were generating nearly $10,000 per month in additional revenue.

We then knew that testing every patient over 50 was the right thing to do. As an optometrist and as a practice owner, I was elated. We could ensure the future of our business by protecting the vision of our patients. This completely changed the focus of our practice, and there was no turning back.

Keeping Our Head in the Game

Because of this data, my staff completely bought into the value of screening every patient over 50, even with our AdaptDx tabletop device. Staff implementation became more consistent and efficient – there was no more “forgetting” about dark adaptation testing on a busy day.

In our practice, we print daily schedules and tag patients over 50, allowing us to review the patient’s chart in advance. This helps our team coordinate the pretest workflow to accommodate the rapid test.

Now that we have our AdaptDx Pro, we can skip the dark room and streamline our process even more. Patients can don the headset, kick back in our comfortable exam chair, and follow instructions from Theia.

As an optometrist, I can’t let my patients wake up with disrupted vision because they were in the dark about having AMD. As a practice owner, I can’t ignore the opportunities for generating revenue from billable testing and ancillary imaging for our AMD patients.

Testing dark adaptation speed for every patient over 50 allows me to prioritize both: the well-being of my patients and my practice.

Tammy Tully

About the Author

Dr. Tammy Tully founded Seaside Eye Associates in Myrtle Beach, SC in 2006. She was born and raised in Daniels, WV. Dr. Tully received her bachelor’s degree in biology and physics from West Virginia University and graduated as the Top Clinician from Southern College of Optometry. She is an AMD advocate who understands that education and empowerment of her staff generates the bests results.