How do you measure success in your practice?

November 7, 2023
The AOA’s Center for Independent Practice (CIP) was created to help students and practitioners develop strong partnerships, optimize practice resources, create business strategy and utilize the fundamentals of professional practice advocacy. AOA members of the CIP Committee share how they make their practices thrive.
Success graphic

Excerpted from page 44 of the October 2023 edition of AOA Focus.

Do you want to be “wildly successful” in your practice?

The AOA’s Center for Independent Practice (CIP) hosted a stimulating and dynamic symposium at Optometry’s Meeting® on how to do just that.

Launched in fall 2022, the CIP’s purpose is to fuel passion for independent practice and create a foundational knowledge base to excel in the management of today’s independent practice of contemporary optometry. A center of excellence, the CIP enables practitioners and optometry students to develop strong partnerships, optimize practice resources, create business strategies and utilize the fundamentals of professional practice advocacy.

The symposium was led by Tom Bowen, founder and CEO of THRIVE Practice and Life Development, who touched on a number of reasons why independent practices thrive: cash flow, equity, freedom, patient care relationships, professional relationships, leadership and owning one’s work culture.

Patient care may be the greatest of these, Bowen says. “I believe that we are hard-wired, deliberately hard-wired, to experience our greatest joy in the service of one another,” he adds.

“I salute CIP supporter Johnson & Johnson Vision and our four CIP partner schools—Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry, The Ohio State University, University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry, and Southern College of Optometry—for their strong support of independent practice,” says Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D., AOA vice president. “It has been an honor to work with the leaders of our partner schools and supporter to bring the inaugural CIP Symposium to fruition.”

In an excerpt from AOA Focus, doctors of optometry on the CIP Committee comment on how they measure success in their practices.

Happy staff, happy patients, a safe place to talk

“Happy, healthy staff are the backbone of our success. When our practice is running like a well-oiled machine, it is because all parts of the team are present, working together and doing their jobs accurately and efficiently. The biggest compliment we can receive is when our patients note our office runs smoothly, and the biggest frustration for patients and teammates is when something is broken. We have learned the mechanics of practice management from our esteemed community of colleagues, in particular those in our practice management study group. Our study group has been together for 20 years and consists of 10 practices from around the country that meet twice a year in person and email in between to get quick feedback. This group keeps us current, progressive, and provides a safe place to talk about practice challenges and ideas. We consider success as having a reputation in the community of providing elite patient care, and being a part of this group has allowed us to strive for that success.” —TARA DEROSE, O.D., Mountain Vista Eyecare and Dry Eye Center, Colorado

Patient connection, work-life balance

“Running an independent optometry practice has its unique set of challenges and rewards. What I appreciate most is the direct connection with my community and patients, and the ability to shape that experience. Being independent means I can take the time to truly get to know my patients and offer them personalized care. It’s not about being the biggest office, but about providing tailored and heartfelt service. This setup also offers a balance, giving me a chance to be there for my family and pursue personal interests. It’s a blend of commitment to my profession and the freedom to manage my time, all while serving my local community.” –AARON MCNULTY, O.D., Louisville Eye Center, Kentucky

Living up to the standard of highest-quality care

“Everyone is extremely nervous about how to create success in their practice, but ultimately it can be a straightforward objective to meet. If you always put the interests and needs of your patients first, your practice will be successful. This doesn’t mean giving everything away for free or discounting all of your services. Yes, that would be great for your patients, but your practice wouldn’t last very long! The better option is to establish yourself as an optometrist who provides the highest-quality care, and then live up to that standard in every patient encounter. If your focus is to always provide your patients with the best version of yourself every single day, then success will follow.” –ERICK HENDERSON, O.D., McCauley Celin Eyecare Associates, Pennsylvania

Seeing and hearing patients

“After establishing a local optometric private practice in a busy suburban area, our next step at Eyes on Norbeck was to make ourselves stand out from the nearby corporate-style offices. While it may seem a typical part of an optometric exam, just by committing to listening to our patients and spending the time to fully understand them did we appreciate their real ocular issues and unmet needs. Simply bringing to light the correlations of chronic systemic conditions with underlying ocular complications to our patients opened up a world of questions and treatments for many. Surveying our patients in organic conversations led to our office technology evolving around our specific demographic. Instead of falling into the “trap” of shiny new equipment and making a square peg fit into a circular hole, our patients’ needs drove the expansion and growth of our office symbiotically. We now have updated machines and tools to help our migraine patients and symptomatic dry eye and ocular rosacea patients that have contributed to our success!” –VICKY WONG, O.D., guest panelist, Eyes on Norbeck and Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, Maryland

The symposium was supported by Johnson & Johnson Vision.

“At Johnson & Johnson Vision, we believe that as our world is so rapidly evolving, we must continue to support the best patient outcomes through a strong doctor-patient relationship,” says Charissa Lee, O.D., MBA, head of North America Professional Affairs, Johnson & Johnson Vision. “We see that AOA’s CIP can help guide students, new doctors and established doctors, and we want to support this movement toward elevated patient care.

“Providing a center where eye care professionals can look for guidance into the future of patient care not only will help move the profession forward, but it will be in service of better patient outcomes.”

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