Exploring business models to provide a foundation for enhanced eye care services in high street optometric practice

  • Neelam Patel

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


High street optometric practices are for-profit businesses. They mostly provide sight testing and eye examination services and sell optical products, such as spectacles and contact lenses. The sight testing services are often sold at a vastly reduced price and profits are generated primarily through high margin spectacle sales, in a loss leading strategy. Published literature highlights weaknesses in this strategy as it forms a barrier to widening the scope of services provided within optometric practices. This includes specialist non-refraction based services, such as shared care. In addition this business strategy discourages investment in
advanced diagnostic equipment and higher professional qualifications.

The aim of this thesis was to develop a greater understanding of the traditional loss-leading strategy. The thesis also aimed to assess the plausibility of alternative business models to support the development of specialist non-refraction services within high street optometric practice.

This research was based on a single independent optometric practice that specialises in advanced retinal imaging and offers a broad range of shared care services. Specialist non-refraction based services were found to be poor generators of spectacle sales likely due to patient needs and presenting concerns. Alternative business strategies to support these services included charging more realistic professional fees via cost-based pricing and monthly payment plans. These strategies enabled specialist services to be more self-sustainable with less reliance on cross-subsidy from spectacle sales. Furthermore, improving operational efficiency can increase stand-alone profits for specialist services.Practice managers may be reluctant to increase professional fees due to market pressures and confidence. However, this thesis found that patients were accepting of increased professional fees.

Practice managers can implement alternative business models to enhance eye care provision in high street optometric practices. These alternative business models also improve revenues and profits generated via clinical services and improve patient loyalty.
Date of Award23 Feb 2016
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorShehzad Naroo (Supervisor) & Frank Eperjesi (Supervisor)


  • UK optometry
  • shared care
  • activity-based costing
  • monthly payment plans
  • customer loyalty

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