Practice Management

How the Independent Practice Setting of Target Optical Allows Doctors to Focus on Guest Care

Dr. Bailey, center, receiving the Target Optical Doctor of the Year Award at the 2024 Target Optical Summit. Dr. Bailey says that at Target, serving guests is a collaborative effort that results in great care.

Dr. Bailey, center, receiving the Target Optical Doctor of the Year Award at the 2024 Target Optical Summit. Dr. Bailey says that at Target serving guests is a collaborative effort that results in great care.

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By Eric Bailey, OD

July 10, 2024

After years in a large, privately owned group practice, I decided I wanted to be my own boss, and focus on being a doctor, rather than the pressures of managing an optical dispensary.

In 2009, I discovered the perfect fit for my goals by becoming a Target Optical-affiliated optometrist. I get to concentrate on caring for patients, or guests, as we call them at Target Optical, without worrying about ownership of an optical.

Emphasis on Collaborating to Deliver High-Quality Care

I don’t sell anything in my practice, as all eyewear and contact lens sales are transacted by the Target Optical retail store rather than my office.

The Target Optical team does the heavy lifting ensuring all guests leave with glasses that provide optimum vision for all their lifestyle needs. It’s a true team effort in which I lay the groundwork in the exam room, and our optical team ensures guests leave with all their eyecare needs.

With no optical dispensary to manage, I think of all my conversations with patients from an educational, rather than selling, perspective. I point out to all new patients that I will not be the one selling the glasses and contact lenses I prescribe to them, so they never have to question why I may be prescribing a particular product. They know my sole interest is in their eye health and vision.

Resources to Teach Me About Latest Optical Advancements

Though I don’t sell eyewear to patients, it is important for me to have a good understanding of the latest in lens technology, so I can write the best possible prescriptions, and make the best recommendations, for our guests.

The annual Target Optical Summit enables me to do that. For example, I might learn about the newest releases from Transitions Optical or an advanced eyewear technology like Ray-Ban Meta.

In addition to the newest lenses, we learned this year about Nuance Audio, glasses with an embedded hearing aid.

We also had a memorable educational session, which I hosted with my store manager, on how we can best help our guests optimize Medicare Advantage. We shared with our colleagues the top ways to drive insurance conversion, along with the details on the best ways practices and patients can use Medicare Advantage.

Tapping Into Spirit of Collaboration

When my knowledge of lenses is up to date I am able to work more efficiently as a team with Target Optical opticians to ensure I hand the guest off with prescriptions and recommendations that the optical team can build on and further educate the guest.

We all have the same understanding that we are there to take care of our guests. We know at the end of day that we are judged by the outcome of the collaboration and synergy we are able to deliver. We are constantly talking about how to improve OUR process.

Our ability to work together, using the information I absorb through resources like the Target Optical Summit is one of the many ways we ensure that our guests are well served and return year after year.

This year I was honored with the Target Optical Doctor of the Year Award, thanks in large part to the collaborative approach of our Target Optical team. I know I have the support I need to help our guests with everything they need from their eye doctor.

Connecting to Grow

The educational resources at the Target Optical Summit extend past optical information to business management continuing education with nationally known key opinion leaders in optometry like April Jasper, OD, and Carl Spear, OD.

These “Connect to Grow” business sessions are tailored especially for ODs like us at Target who are in an affiliated model without ownership of an optical dispensary.

Connect to Grow programs provide Target-affiliated doctors with the chance to socialize, learn from, and experience great camaraderie with professionals working toward similar goals, working in the same practice modality.

Joining a Nationwide Community of ODs

One of the best things about being a Target-affiliated optometrist is the community of optometrists you join.

Target’s Optometric Advising Council offers mentoring for how best to thrive in an affiliated practice setting. That mentoring includes guidance on financial management, staff management, marketing and beyond.

In many cases, the relationship between doctors centers on what could be described as life coaching—learning how to deliver great care while maintaining work-life balance.

Not a week goes by without me talking to 2-3 doctors about the challenges of business and life management as a busy doctor.

Associate Yourself with a Respected, Winning Brand

You’re judged by the company you keep. My Target-affiliated practice has connected me to a retailer with a positive, national reputation.

When I say I am affiliated with Target, I benefit from a halo effect. Guests already rely on Target for so many of their other needs, so it is only natural that they would turn to us for their eyecare.

Being affiliated with Target, in other words, gives my practice instant brand recognition and trust.

Eric Bailey, ODEric Bailey, OD, is the owner of Drs. Bailey & Simmons, a Target Optical-affiliated practice in Monticello, Minn. To contact him: drericbailey@icloud.com

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