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Archive June 2018 XIX, No. 6

6 Secrets to Success With Laser Cataract Surgery

Expert advice if you're thinking of adopting the femtosecond laser.

Scott LaBorwit

Scott LaBorwit, MD


Scott LaBorwit, MD
CONVERSION RATE Cataract surgeon Scott LaBorwit, MD, purchased his first femtosecond laser 6 years ago. More than two-thirds of his eligible patients choose laser cataracts.

When I decided to buy a femtosecond laser for cataract surgery 6 years ago, I wasn't certain I could make it work financially. At the time, no blueprint existed. I was the first cataract surgeon in the Baltimore area to purchase a femtosecond laser and only the 42nd in the country to obtain the brand I chose. Of this, however, I was sure: After seeing the accuracy and precision of the laser, integrated with imaging and, in my opinion, the new level of safety, I needed to make the option available to my patients.

Doing my usual spreadsheet analysis for adopting new technology, I determined I would need to perform 14 cases a month with the laser to cover my expenses for the next 5 years, and patients would need to spend more than $1,000 per eye out of pocket in addition to their insurance copays and deductibles. I filled in the rest of what would become my femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery business strategy based on the issues and challenges I was able to anticipate. Happily, the principles I initially set forth have worked very well. Two years after I purchased the laser, 68% of my eligible patients were choosing laser cataracts, and I purchased a second laser, this time with a partner in my surgical center. So today, both ASCs I'm affiliated with, one as the majority partner and one as a minority partner, own a femtosecond laser. A few secrets of my success:

"To maximize the benefits of laser cataracts, I've changed the non-laser parts of my surgery to reflect what the laser accomplishes."

1 Believe in the technology wholeheartedly. Without my core belief that laser cataracts is a better procedure for patients and a more predictable procedure for me, I wouldn't have been able to convey my enthusiasm to my staff members and referring doctors. I would have had nowhere to go from there given how they also need to be enthusiastic to make the technology a success for the practice and surgery centers. Explaining to staff and referring doctors why I want to use the laser was a crucial step. Early on, I closed the practice so staff and I could have a lunch-and-learn session. What sealed the deal for staff and referrers was seeing the laser in action. Everyone observed a procedure, including the billing department. Had I known the incredibly positive effect this would have, I would've made it happen even sooner.

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