By S. Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO, FSLS
July 19, 2023
When planning for the growth of your career, and how you will continue to serve patients to the highest level, you may find yourself in search of a practice partner. I found an organization to partner with, AEG Vision, that has allowed me to provide patients with the best possible care while offering enhanced career and quality-of-life opportunities.
Looking for the Right Partner: Identifying Key Goals
Our practice began our partnership with AEG in September 2021. Prior to this time we had been considering a variety of options for the future of North Suburban Vision Consultants (NSVC), which included sale to our OD associates, sale to larger ophthalmology groups in the greater Chicago area and sale to other organizations that owned multiple eyecare offices.
Due to the size and complexities of our practice, our associates were not interested in taking on the ownership and management of our practice. We got offers from many ophthalmology groups and other eyecare organizations before deciding on AEG.
The key goals for us in choosing a practice partner included: maintaining the culture of our practice and dedication to advance medical eyecare, ensuring the future growth and development of the practice as well as those of our associate doctors and our fabulous staff of eyecare professionals. I wanted to partner with an organization that would allow me personally to transition into other areas of our profession that I have great interest in. In addition, I was looking for a partnership that would ensure the future security of my family.
Preserving Practice Essence & Taking It to Next Level
My greatest concern prior to selling our practice to a large organization such as AEG was that there would be a sudden and dramatic change to our practice with loss of the mission that we established 30 years ago – to deliver the highest quality advanced eyecare provided by experts in the field. I was also concerned that our practice would be branded in a way that we would not be comfortable with. This has been a great concern for many practices who partnered with other groups, however it simply has not been the case in our experience with AEG.
I can say with total confidence that the essence of NSVC has been maintained since joining AEG. We continue on our mission of optimized quality patient care with no change in our practice patterns. Partnering with AEG has only increased our ability to achieve our goals and has expanded the opportunities for both myself and my associates and staff.
Providing ongoing care for our patients is of paramount concern regardless of who we partnered with. As expected, when we informed our patients of our merger with AEG there was concern expressed by many that things would change, and specifically, that I would leave our practice. I addressed this in a detailed letter to our family of patients that we sent soon after. We also posted it on our website and social media.
We addressed the concerns by informing our patients that from their perspective little would change, that our associates are highly trained and experienced in a variety of sub-specialty areas, and that although I would be reducing my patient care over time, I would be remaining at the practice to see our most challenging and needy of our patients. The transition has been as smooth as could ever be expected.
New Career Horizons for Doctors & Staff
One of the most attractive things about partnering with AEG for me personally has been the opportunity to work with AEG on a national level to achieve future goals. I have been able to work with AEG in developing practice approaches and systems that are key for advanced specialty eyecare practices such as we have at NSVC. Development in certain localities of referral centers for advanced procedures, along with the development of best practices, are some of the most interesting areas that I am looking forward to working on with the AEG medical eyecare services team in the future
The career prospects of our support staff was another significant concern to me, and one that I addressed with AEG prior to our partnership. In fact, the career opportunities, benefits and job security for the most part exceeded what we could provide to our employees as an independent practice.
Our associates and professional staff are able to practice at the highest level of medical eyecare without any compromise and have been given the opportunity for growth both professionally and financially beyond what our practice could have provided.
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Mutually Beneficial Partnership
AEG, from the beginning, has wanted our partnership to be beneficial to both parties. On so many levels they worked with us to ensure that our mutual goals would be met as much as possible. I sincerely admire them for this approach. I think this, along with the other positives of our relationship, are based on a general culture that begins at the top of the organization and filters down to all levels. The people I have met along our journey together have not only become close associates, but actually, many feel like family to me!