Article Date: 6/1/2011

Our Challenging Business
tech time

Our Challenging Business

To survive today, optometrists need a tool that improves business acumen.

Scot Morris, O.D., F.A.A.O.

I was speaking to a group of students recently about their future in optometry when it struck me that they and many other doctors have lost their way.

Let me explain. I asked the students what they will really do when they're out of school. I received the standard answers from “help people see” to “conduct eye exams” and even “prevent blindness.” Now, I am in no way underestimating or degrading the ethical and philanthropic sides of our profession, but I was amazed at the “purity” of their answers. As I systematically responded, “no, no and no,” I saw their confusion. I told them the secret of optometry: We run a business. (Here's where you say: “Oh yeah.”)

In fact, our business is unique, in that it entails running a professional service and a retail business (ophthalmic frames and lenses, contact lenses and “others”—this is where most practices make 60+% of their overall revenue.)

The technology connection

What does this have to do with technology? Well, the last two decades have been easy: Hang the proverbial shingle, see patients, and make a nice income. Now, it's more challenging. Managed care reimbursement, technological advances, an increase in competition, changes in patient health demographic and other outside business economic pressures require that we think like CEOs and business managers to succeed. In other words, if we are to run a business, we need the facts, figures, stats, graphs, etc. to actually have the “real” information to run that business.

How do we get this business intelligence, and what does it consist of? I have a pretty sophisticated EHR, and a very sophisticated spreadsheet, and yet I still felt somehow “not fully educated” about the minutiae of my professional service and retail businesses (practice).

Solution found

I started looking for a business intelligence solution that would give me answers without all the data-input demands. I found it, and it's changed how I run my practice and make strategic business decisions. If you're serious about improving your business acumen, I recommend you consider this software.

It's called the EDGE 2.0 (GPN, New York). (For the purposes of disclosure, I have no financial interest in GPN.) The software gives you the business intelligence to develop a systematic, fact-based approach to building your practice. Not only does it simplify business reporting, it looks at benchmarks and trend analysis for optical cost-of-goods-sold, sales, practice efficiency, staff and doctor efficiency.

Drilling down

This technology allows you to track the two areas of your business (professional services and product sales) individually and drill down by any array of qualifiers to the specifics of a single transaction. For example, if one of your opticians sold twice as many polarized lenses as another, you would be able to train opticians based on the techniques of the more successful optician. Or, you could compare the profitability of one managed care program to another.

With such tools, we become more adequately equipped to treat our practices as the businesses that they are. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: June 2011