Faced with the sluggish economy, a changing regulatory climate, shifting patient expectations and new forms of competition, today’s optometrists are getting more creative in their approach to both clinical and business matters. Whether it’s improving their diagnostic skills, implementing new technologies in the exam room or office, employing the latest management techniques or raising the level of patient care, forward-thinking ODs are pushing ahead with fresh ideas. They are the focus of our second annual Optometric Business Innovators report, a special collaborative project between Vision Monday and Review of Optometric Business. For the last six months, ROB has profiled honorees in various categories–business management, optical dispensing, digital media, marketing, the patient experience, influencers and contact lenses. This month: doctors recognized for achievement as “influencer” innovators.
Founder/CEO Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care www.youreyesite.com
“Our Ritz-Carlton level customer service, internet marketing, ‘rock star’ docs and top-tier staff passionate about our practice sets us apart from the competition.”
Author, lecturer, inventor, businessman, and he still finds time to see patients. Alan Glazier, OD, has become something of a renaissance man for modern optometry. Founder/CEO of a large private optometric practice, Glazier authored Searchial Marketing: How Social Media Drives Search Optimization in Web 3.0 in 2011 and is a frequent lecturer on social and new media. He is the founder and moderator of the Social OD Network, which includes ODs on Facebook, an active social media discussion forum with over 2,000 industry professionals. As if that weren’t enough, he holds four patents and nine pending patents in computer science and ophthalmology and is the founder/CEO of Vision Solutions Technologies, a medical device R&D company, which will bring a brand new intraocular lens, LiquiLens, to market.
But he isn’t stopping there; he is currently in the process of expanding and modernizing his facilities. “In line with continuing to implement the medical model, we have been aggressively upgrading digital diagnostic technologies and adding new ones. We just became the third optometric practice in the world to get a LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation unit for treatment of evaporative dry eye,” said Glazier. “There has been a tremendous upside in both revenue and our ability to provide top tier medical and refractive care as a result of our digital capabilities.”
All this growth isn’t without its challenges. “The single biggest challenge has been to stay ahead of growth while continuing to provide the high level of customer service that patients are accustomed to receiving,” he concluded.
Founder & Owner
The Power Practice
Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
“Working with our doctors isn’t a job, it’s a relationship. Making sure they power their personal and professional dreams isn’t a task, it’s our purpose.”
Gary Gerber, OD, and his Power Practice consulting firm have been transforming optometric practices and the patient experience for the past 20 years. A champion of independent ODs, Gerber’s firm has been a leader in practice management advising clients on everything from office efficiencies, customer service and staff motivation. After running his own successful practice in a highly competitive Northern N.J. area where he became a “student of business,” Gerber decided “he could show other ODs how it’s done. Our doctors have talent and passion. The Power Practice shows them how to direct their energy and skills into practice success and the achievement of their dreams.”
Today, armed with a staff of 15 specializing in everything from billing and coding to social media and insurance, the consulting process consists of a dedicated team tasked with analyzing the practice, formulating a program and developing different strategies based on the unique needs of each practice. The final analysis is followed by implementation, training and ultimately coaching. “We try to offer ODs better management and control making sure they achieve their professional and personal dreams.”
The firm identifies new opportunities to save money and generate additional revenue for practices. The approach is anything but cookie cutter and Gerber often looks to other industries and business sectors for inspiration and example. “One year we went up to Boston to meet with the head of housekeeping for the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain. We were able to get a whole new perspective on the strategy and technique of customer service.”
Golden Optometric Group
West Covina, California
“We are extremely excited and optimistic for the future of optometry.”
While David Golden, OD, runs a busy practice started in 1959 by his father, Sheldon Golden, OD, much of his influence in the optometric field is due to his co-founding Professional Eyecare Resource Co-Operative (PERC) three years ago with Howard Stein, OD. He started PERC with the goal of helping organize independent optometrists and ophthalmologists to work together in order to stay competitive in the changing eyecare market. The organization helps procure products and provides resources for the development and management of offices grossing over $1 million annually.
“Our mission is to educate and train the best managers in the eyecare world,” Golden said. “Almost 80 percent of our resources go to creating development programs for managers to build a great team.” PERC runs as a zero profit entity by returning all income that is earned by member purchases after administrative and educational expenses. PERC has built a Medical Eye Home Model that has delivered over 18,000 patients to its members and partner practices. Currently, PERC has 210 locations in 17 states.
Golden is also co-founder of the Aris Vision Institute, which operates 23 refractive surgery centers in the U.S., Mexico and Japan, and which is now part of Gimble Vision Canada.
His newest venture is EyeHome Network, a health care entity designed to improve Star Rating and HEDIS scores using the PERC network to coordinate eyecare for large health plans. EyeHome uses optometry to deliver cost-effective, primary and secondary eyecare to covered individuals. The program has already delivered over 20,000 patients in Arizona and California, and in 2013, New York, Virginia and potentially three other states will be added.
Golden still finds time to manage Golden Optometric Group, where he’s been practicing for 25 years.
Vice President of Eye Care
LensCrafters, North America
Mission Viejo, California
“This profession is about people taking great care of people.”
After 27 years with LensCrafters, Eliot Grossman, OD, has had the “opportunity to work with many optometrists and patients to understand issues and discover new, innovative ways to deliver a higher quality of care and a better eyecare experience,” he said.
Grossman’s history with LensCrafters began in 1985 when he started as an employee with a LensCrafters sublease doctor in Chicago. He was promoted to regional manager in 1989 when he became responsible for the 23 locations that LensCrafters then purchased from that doctor. He moved to California in 1997 to become executive director of Eye Exam of California. In 2008, he was promoted to VP, Eye Care, for LensCrafters, North America, responsible for both employed and sublease doctors throughout the U.S. and Canada.
His recent innovative and influential endeavors in the optical field include adding online appointment scheduling capabilities to the LensCrafters website as well as participating in the brand-wide launch of the Accufit system, which allows for five times more accurate fitting measurements and enables patients to choose between different frame styles while also better understanding the benefits of different lenses.
“This year, we implemented a new customer experience model,” added Grossman. “The essence of it speaks to making an emotional connection with the patient and customer, exploring all of their needs and wants and exceeding the expectations that they have of what their experience will be like.” LensCrafters trains its staff at all locations to more fully communicate during the exam experience what they are doing and why. “This was created out of the belief that patients want heightened communication and based on feedback from patients asking to understand what’s being done to them.”
Grossman also ensures that all LensCrafters associates are cross trained so they can take care of patients and customers throughout the entire experience.
Summit Eye Associates
Gastonia, North Carolina
“There are three types of people: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happened.”
Ann Hoscheit, OD, wears many hats and depending on when and where you see her, you might meet a clinician, business owner, educator or researcher. In January 2013, she’ll record another milestone in her storied career as she celebrates the 10th anniversary of her second start-up practice, Summit Eye Associates, where her practice integrates personal service with the delivery of state-of-the art eyecare while offering several “centers of excellence.”
Her most recent venture was completing a fellowship in Integrative Medicine and incorporating a Wellness Center into the practice. Hoscheit was the first optometrist in the country to receive formal training in functional medicine and is the first physician, from any background in Gaston County, to provide integrative medicine in their practice. “My patients call me the Dr. Oz of Gaston County. This training provided the background needed to incorporate evidence-based medicine into ocular disease prevention.”
When asked what she was most proud of in her role as educator, Hoscheit pointed to her stint as one of four inaugural faculty members for The Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Institute. “The state-of-the-art setting not only taught students, residents and physicians the art of fitting specialty contact lenses but its primary focus was to teach clinicians to communicate.”
President/CEO & Chief of Optometry
Schaeffer Eye Center
“Wake up every morning and be prepared to face the facts. Then develop an action plan to accomplish your goals based on those facts.”
Schaeffer Eye Center is one of Alabama’s largest optometric practices with 15 locations, 17 doctors and more than 100 employees. With that many moving parts, consistency could present a challenge, especially during tough economic times, but Jack Schaeffer, OD, was able to ensure that his staff maintained the same business philosophy and marketing efforts during the downturn and recent recovery.
“It was important to pay a lot more attention to the details of business as there is very little room for mistakes and wasted efficiencies,” said Schaeffer. “The upside to the economic changes is that it forces us to pay closer attention to all of the processes and more importantly to continue delivering quality eyecare to our patients. We have continued to invest in our practice on all levels despite knowing that we would not have the same return that we might have in the past.”
Schaeffer is not only president and CEO of Schaeffer Eye Center but also founder and president of the Alabama Eye Network, founder of the Contact Lens and Anterior Segment Society and co-founder and past president of the Ocular Surface Society of Optometry. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics including anterior segment disease, ocular surface disease, contact lenses and practice management.
Despite all his accomplishments, Schaeffer isn’t above accepting a little help now and then. “We have taken advantage of the many great programs offered by our vendors to educate our staff,” he added.
Director of Business Strategy and Operations Support
Vision Essentials by Kaiser Permanente
Southern California Permanente Medical Group
“Integrity: do what you say. Transparency: say what you do.”
As director of strategy and operations support for Vision Essentials by Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, Susy Yu, OD, oversees a business unit that consists of 42 locations that generated annual revenue of approximately $160 million in 2011. Yu plays an integral role in helping to shape overall strategy, clinical workflows, purchasing, marketing, and manufacturing processes. “Vision Essentials is a small piece within a large organization,” she noted. “We compete for staff, space and resources with many other departments. However, Kaiser Permanente is an HMO, so even though they emphasize efficiency and cutting costs, Vision Essentials gets to invest in order to grow it just like a private practice would. We have the luxury of being able to take a longer range view than an organization with a smaller cash flow could.”
According to Yu, this has enabled Vision Essentials to increase its visibility through concerted marketing outreach to both internal and external audiences, demonstrating its importance to the larger organization. “In an era of tight budgets, we have been able to hire more ODs and staff, expand our manufacturing operations and open new locations,” she said.
Yu also served on the California State Board of Optometry from 2003 to 2011. She helped to craft California’s approach to glaucoma certification, deftly balancing efficiency and expanded scope with protection of the public interest. Yu is a current member of the board of directors of the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO).