With all the massive chains and online storefronts looming over the optometry market, it may seem tough to succeed as an independent optometrist. The market is more competitive than ever before, but that doesn’t mean that private practices have any less potential to thrive! For Thanksgiving this year, we thought we’d take a look at all the things that optometrists should be thankful for!
5 Things Your Practice Can Be Thankful For, Including Your Optometry EHR Software!
1. Your Loyal Customers
At one point, it did seem like the eye care industry would be consolidated, just like what was happening with mom-and-pop businesses nationwide, but over the past 20 years, the momentum at which corporate providers have been gaining market share has actually flattened (Practice Advancement Associations (Jobson) estimates). Customers may prefer small businesses, because price cuts just can’t substitute for the level of personal service and relationships offered by private practices!
In addition, the convenience, wide selection, and price transparency boasted by online retailers, isn’t something that private practices are missing out on anymore. For convenience, the newest optometry practice management and EHR technologies should all feature a patient portal that allow for patients to request appointments, access their medical history, or obtain educational materials whenever they want. For a wide selection, an online optical ordering system like VisionWeb can connect optometrists reliably and efficiently with over 400 suppliers. To address transparency, social review sites such as Yelp, ZocDoc, and Google Places also ensure that each optometrist is validated by the open market.
2. A More Integrated and Collaborative Healthcare System
The EHR vendor market may seem like a crowded mess, but with each successive stage of Meaningful Use, the standard of quality required is being raised higher and higher. Only the vendors that can meet this standard can continue. Then, from those that meet the standard, only those that can make their solution simple enough to integrate seamlessly into a practice’s daily workflow will remain. Our government is shaping the EHR market so that only the most specialized and innovative solutions are being offered to our nation’s caregivers. In fact, in the Black Book Rankings 2013 survey results, they estimated that by 2015, 90% of office practices are estimated to have achieved Meaningful Use! (It was only 2% in 2011)
3. Technology Advancement in the Cloud
Setting up your own hardware, software, and IT support, is like setting up your own windmill, wiring it up, and maintaining it so that you can get electricity! The development of cloud computing has been forwarded by the vision that software should be provided as a service that actually adds to a practice’s core competency, not just support it. Currently, EHR and practice management systems replacement has become the new norm.
In addition, because users pay as they go, there are no long term commitments and the total cost of ownership with cloud-based solutions is much lower. The vendor then essentially becomes a partner to the company that is devoted to consistently providing quality service. The low switching costs and competitive environment push vendors to provide the best customer service possible and constantly introduce innovative developments to stay on top of the game. Essentially, with dedicated server systems, collaboration is a feature, but with fully cloud-based systems, it’s a reality. This ensures that your technology will be persistently evolving with your business. It’s the software solution that is actually designed to embrace growth and transitions, making it the most viable long-term solution.
4. Valuable Knowledge and Advice on the Internet
Understanding financial performance, marketing your business, managing your staff, and practice leadership are definitely topics that many ODs could always use more help in! No optometrist is alone in their struggles when they are trying to run their business. The Internet has spawned a creative and collaborative network of individuals willing to help each other and forward each other’s ambitions. Learn about practice magnetism from an issue of MBA Insights, how to increase efficiency from Optometric Management, or all things marketing from iMedia Connection. If you’re not in the mood for articles, how about some optometry e-books to help you understand Meaningful Use or The Optical Vision Site to amuse yourself! If you need advice specific to your business, the Eyecare Professionals LinkedIn group, TSO Network on Facebook and ODwire.org forums are also some of the best ways to connect with fellow ODs! With an open mind and some initiative, the digital age we live has made the possibilities for education endless.
5. All-in-one Systems That are Easy to Use
In a recent Black Book Revenue Cycle Management study, they found that when cloud-based EHRs work together with billing and practice management solutions, it would save thousands of independent physicians from acquisition. They noted that “these innovative systems are transforming thousands of physicians to increase collections, streamline operations, acclimate to reimbursement reforms, provide productive workflows, and improve patient care”. From successful private practices, 95% reinforced that an integrated system was the key to ensuring practice survival without being acquired by hospitals or larger physician groups. In addition, only a system designed for your specialty can assure that scheduling, documenting, prescribing, ordering, and billing can flow together seamlessly with each patient visit.
All in all, small practices are valuable business models that patients are truly thankful for. That’s why VisionWeb created Uprise to support your every need, just as if you were a multi-national corporation. Every process necessary in an optometry practice is embedded in our solution, not just integrated. When an EHR and practice management system can work together, expensive, cumbersome, and time-consuming stand-alone products that are just thrown together don’t cut it anymore. Looking at the year behind, there are many fascinating developments that have seemed to turn the tide in favor of being an independent optometrist. Happy Thanksgiving!
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