The state of optometry: Our place in the market

Thanks to a summit at Optometry's Meeting® 2013, all optometrists can benefit from detailed analysis on the state of the profession.

Optometrists account for 85 percent of comprehensive eye exams.

Presented by AOAExcelTM and Jobson Optical Group, with co-sponsors Essilor and VisionWeb, the summit offered "The State of the Optometric Profession: 2013." The analysis broke down the current status of optometry and its role in delivering eye care to the public into six influencers: output, supply, demand, government, payers, and technology.

Each week, AOA News will offer information on one of these influencers. Up first: output.

Output: market share and frequency

Optometrists have solidified their role as the primary providers of eye care for patients. However, there is plenty of room for improvement, according to experts who spoke at Optometry's Meeting®.

Mark Wright, O.D., Review of Optometric Business professional editor, offered an overview of optometry's current spot in the marketplace. "Optometry dominates the primary eye care market," he noted, "but has not optimized the frequency of patient visits."

Currently, optometrists account for 85 percent of comprehensive eye exams. That's a highly positive statistic. However, there is an average interval of 25 months between exams--well above the 12-month recommendation.

"If ODs were to reduce the average interval between eye exams from 25 months to 18 months, ODs would perform an additional 34 million eye exams annually, a 39 percent increase," according to the report. More frequent exams would improve the public's eye health, and fewer eye diseases would go undiagnosed, too.

How to improve output

Optometrists can take steps to improve revenue and other factors:

  • Improve recall processes. According to the report, less than half of independent practices and under 20 percent of corporate affiliated practices pre-appoint patients. Focusing more on recall practices would decrease the time between exams and increase revenue and patient loyalty.
  • Upgrade eyewear purchase experiences. The report noted that chains have a competitive advantage in eyewear merchandising, and that independent ODs devote too little time to this important practice.
  • Broaden scope of practice. ODs should operate at the full scope allowed in their states, the report noted, to grow their practices and expand revenue.

August 23, 2013

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