Today, many doctors are experiencing practice consolidation as smaller practices merge with larger ones. Despite this trend, there are still many optometry practices with single owners and only one or two doctors on staff. For the private practice owner focused on growing and thriving in today’s competitive market, taking advantage of new ideas in medicine, technology, and business is key.
As medical research progresses, conditions that were once untreatable, such as glaucoma, cataracts and even macular degeneration, are now treatable to the point where vision is more than just maintained, in some cases it can improved. Because of this, optometrist can do more than just correct refractive error. Either working with an ophthalmologist or in solo practice, the optometrist can branch out into areas as complex as glaucoma or simple as ocular allergies. Optometrists are experts when it comes to the human eye, therefore use the expertise to go beyond eyeglasses and contacts.
Of course, as great as medical science is, it has its limits. Thankfully, technology such as the Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System can help people with retinitis pigmentosa, achieve a measure of functional vision. (See “The Future of Vision is Now” blog entry of May 17, 2016 for more information about this device.) Of course, there are other low vision devices and adaptive equipment, such as telemicroscopic glasses, clip-on loupes, even electronic magnifiers. Yet, patients with low vision need to be evaluated before being fitted with an assistive device. That’s where an optometrist comes in. He or she can work with a low vision specialist to help patients make the best use of the vision that they have and utilize a wide variety of assistive devices.
One such place that utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to low vision is the William Feinbloom Center at Salus University’s Eye Institute. The staff of optometrists, social workers, and low vision specialists at Feinbloom develop strategies to help people with low vision manage tasks such as reading, identifying street signs, watching television and other tasks of daily living. This approach is beneficial for both patients and optometrists. Patients learn that low vision isn’t a synonym for blindness. Optometrists’ expertise in vision allows them to take the lead when treating someone with low vision.
Optometrists provide an important service: eye care. What can you do to improve delivery of services? Can you revamp procedures? Redesign the office? Place ads in the local newspaper? While optometry is a part of healthcare, that doesn’t mean that you can’t utilize techniques used by other businesses to improve your bottom line. Want to post on social media about your business? Do it. Want to present yourself as an eye care expert to your local media? Call them up and offer your expertise.
Hanging a shingle and expecting referrals from primary care physician isn’t enough anymore to get people to come through your door. Especially with services like Opternative and Blink, optometrists need to continue looking for ways to grow. Change can be a good thing!