Are your office’s struggles the same as others? Judging by the uniform responses to the year end survey we sent out two weeks ago, optometrists throughout the US are all in the same boat. Our thanks to those of you who shared your voice and your concerns about the plagues currently facing independent optometry.
Let’s start with the good news. Fifty-six percent of responding doctors said they had an increase in eye exams over the year, which means that overall more patients are getting into offices for annual eye exams. Many doctors also reported decreased lab fees overall, leading to positive outcomes on the bottom line for their practice.
The survey made it very clear that optometrists are facing a multitude of challenges. Eighty-three percent of respondents said that low reimbursements on eye exams and materials was the greatest hurdle in 2016. Though this wasn’t a huge surprise, it does confirm that many vision plans are reaching deeper and deeper into doctors’ pockets funneling profits away from the local business and into the hands of bureaucrats. This is forcing many doctors to essentially change the way they do business. In order to hold a consistent profit, doctors are now seeing more patients in a day, and yet still have less funds available to hire and train staff, purchase equipment, and upgrade software.
What can be done? If low reimbursements are affecting your business negatively, talk to your patients and make contact with the employee benefits decision maker in the company. Get your patients onto a vision plan that guarantees reimbursements for exams and materials that are fair to you and allow for low time of service costs for your patients. This is already working for optometrists in cities across the country. If the majority of doctors aren’t taking a certain vision plan, local companies won’t sign up with them. The predatory vision plans are working every single day to take every cent they can from you, but you still have the power. With a little work, you can keep what you are earning.
DON’T EAT THE ‘FREE’ LUNCH
78% responded that the top priority for 2017 is to increase overall revenues. Are you eating the ‘free’ lunch that the lab rep brings in? If so, you are overpaying for your materials in order to pay for those sandwiches, the donuts, the sample pair of glasses for you and your staff, plus all the lunches your rep took to other offices who aren’t buying. Still wondering why your lab bill was so high?
Optometrists who see the benefit of remaining independent for themselves as well as for the good of their patients need to get active in their choices of labs and provider panels in order to stem the tide of money washing out of local practices and into the hands of predatory corporations.
Have you noticed any of these trends in your own office? If so, what factors do you feel are contributing to it, and how is your office responding? Respond in the comments below.