Navigating the Visionary Path: Top Challenges Faced by Eyecare Practice Owners

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Owning and managing an eyecare practice can be both professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling. However, practice owners in the eyecare industry encounter a unique set of challenges that require a blend of clinical expertise and entrepreneurial acumen. In this blog post, we'll explore the top challenges faced by eyecare practice owners and offer insights on how to tackle them.

Challenge 1: Competition and Technology

The eyecare industry is competitive, with numerous corporate chains and private practices competing for patients. Practice owners must differentiate their services by emphasizing personalized care, community involvement, and unique offerings like specialized contact lenses or state-of-the-art technologies like Virtual Field to stand out in the crowd. Keeping up with the rapid evolution of eyecare technologies can be daunting. However, embracing these advancements is crucial for improved patient care and practice efficiency. According to Dr. Brian Shafer, "Practice ownership is about finding the delicate balance between maximizing efficiency and operating lean with minimal staffing. It's strategic, and every move counts. To succeed, invest in technology and services that empower your team to work smarter, not harder, and watch your practice thrive.”

Challenge 2: Team Building

Building a skilled and dependable team is essential for the success of an eyecare practice. Finding qualified ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, and support staff can be a challenge. Consider networking within the eyecare community, offering competitive compensation packages, and fostering a positive workplace culture to attract and retain top talent.

According to Dr. Garley Leon, "Running an eyecare business comes with its unique set of challenges. It's a delicate balance of human resources, patience, adaptation to technology, and a keen eye for context. To succeed, I've learned to network relentlessly, embracing flexibility in my hiring approach, and ensuring fair wages. Patience is key, appreciating dedicated employees and nurturing their growth. Staying relevant means embracing ever-evolving technology, streamlining processes, and delivering better patient care. And yes, context matters – it's the lens through which we navigate the complex world of eyecare."

For new practice owners in particular, building a skilled and dedicated team is essential for practice success. Develop effective hiring strategies, offer competitive compensation packages, and foster a positive workplace culture that promotes teamwork and patient-centered care. Dr. Robert Layman offers, "Running an eyecare business brings its share of challenges, and today, one of our biggest hurdles is building an exceptional team. The labor market is evolving, making it crucial to attract, train, and motivate top talent while maintaining our commitment to compassionate patient care. For those aspiring to venture into practice ownership, my advice is simple yet effective: prioritize team culture. Plan enjoyable activities that foster collaboration, trust, and mutual respect among your staff. Building a strong team takes effort, but the rewards are immeasurable." 

Challenge 3: Managing Growth 

According to Dr. Joshua Vrabec, "In my opinion, the biggest challenge encountered by new practice owners is managing growth effectively. We started as a small practice in 2019 with just 2 employees, and now employ 10 staff members. Growth requires balancing growing staffing needs while watching our overhead, all while ensuring that the patient experience remains our top priority. My advice would be to look for ways to leverage technology from the very beginning to maximize your workflow while minimizing staffing and space needs. A great example of this is the new virtual visual field, which allows us the flexibility to perform visual field testing in any space in our office, rather than being confined to a specific room. This system also automatically uploads results via DICOMM to our EMR, maximizing our workflows."

Indeed, a challenge for practice owners is effectively managing growth, especially in balancing staffing needs, controlling overhead, and prioritizing patient experience. Leveraging technology, such as virtual visual fields, to optimize workflow and space utilization while streamlining results integration into electronic medical records can help support this growth.

Challenge 4: Business Management and Billing

Running an eyecare practice involves more than just providing quality vision care. Practice owners must excel in various areas of business management, including financial planning, staff management, marketing, and regulatory compliance. To navigate the complexities of financial planning effectively, consider enlisting the expertise of financial advisors who specialize in eyecare practices. They can help you create robust financial strategies, manage expenses, and plan for growth. Consider exploring software solutions tailored to medical practices that streamline billing, insurance claims, and revenue management.

Another related challenge is dealing with insurance companies and managing billing processes which can be a complex and time-consuming task. To overcome this challenge, establish efficient billing practices and stay informed about changes in billing codes. For example, as of January 1, 2023, there is a new billing code for quantitative pupillometry: 95919. This CPT code allows practitioners to bill for automated pupillometry examinations. To qualify for payment, a licensed provider must interpret both unilateral and bilateral results and document the findings in the patient's medical record.

Challenge 5: Patient Education

Educating patients about the importance of regular eye exams and ensuring compliance with treatment plans can be challenging. Implement effective communication strategies, provide educational materials, and use technology to send reminders and educational content to keep patients engaged and well-informed. 

Owning and managing an eyecare practice presents a unique blend of professional and business challenges. By proactively addressing these challenges and seeking support when needed, eyecare practice owners can build thriving practices that provide exceptional vision care and positively impact their communities and the eyecare industry as a whole. Challenges are opportunities for growth and innovation, and with dedication, practice owners can overcome them to continue making a difference in the realm of vision health.


About Virtual Field

Virtual Field delivers an exceptional eye exam experience. Eye care professionals including ophthalmologists and optometrists examine patients faster, more efficiently, and more comfortably than ever before. Exams include Visual Field, 24-2, Kinetic Visual Field (Goldmann Perimetry), Ptosis, Esterman, Color Vision, Pupillometry, and more.

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