Article Date: 3/1/2003

practice profile
How to Beat a Recession
Focusing on patients' needs and providing the best quality care is what keeps Dr. Morris's practice on the fast track.

Scot Morris, O.D., makes his practice, Spivack Vision Center, stand out through a devotion to customer service and a cultivation of specialty care niches. His practice shows a 20% increase since October 2001 --- no mean feat during a time of economic recession, especially when he accomplished it without reducing examination or refractive surgery fees.

Dr. Morris credits the increase largely to advertising. He uses an aggressive, wide-scope refractive marketing program that includes television, radio, print and Web site advertising, direct mail and a quarterly patient newsletter. The practice has three offices in desirable locations in the Denver metro area that offer what he calls "excellent" marketing opportunities. Despite this, Dr. Morris says that the best marketing tool is still good old-fashioned patient word of mouth.

Catering to his patients

While many optometrists have difficulty grasping that eye care is a business in which patients are clients who they must serve, Dr. Morris concentrates on providing his patients with an eyecare experience that is "second to none."

Four O.D.s and two M.D.s are on staff to address patients' needs as swiftly and as completely as possible. His "care center" program reinforces customer service and he has a bi-monthly mandatory staff-training program and weekly meetings.

Dr. Morris further cultivates goodwill through careful discussions with patients about their ocular status. "I'm a firm believer in patient education," he says. "By educating patients in a common sense and simple manner, they're better able to understand their visual status or disease. We use our technology not only to help explain certain ocular conditions, but also to market our practice as having the latest technology."

Dr. Morris says that if a potential refractive surgery candidate has irregular astigmatism, for example, and the staff gives him a printout of the topography map to take home, the printout not only serves as a reminder, but the patient often shows it to friends and family -- who call the practice to make appointments for themselves.

It's all about the equipment

Dr. Morris says that he believes in investing in state-of-the-art equipment. For rxample, in the area of refractive surgery his practice's equipment includes Alcon's LadarVision excimer laser, Alcon's LadarWave wavefront system and the VISX S3 laser.

He uses topographers by Humphrey and Bausch & Lomb and says that he bought most of the other clinical equipment from Humphrey. The 200-square-foot optical labs (each with its own dispensary) use a Briot edger and can do most optical jobs in house. Dr. Morris also implemented an electronic medical records system for more efficient chart keeping.

Succeeding in a recession

While refractive surgery volumes have declined over the past year and contact lens revenues have remained steady, Dr. Morris's practice has increased optical revenues, particularly in recreational sun wear and sports wear. Additionally, a new internal audit process examines not only clinical matters, but also coding and billing, so staff can recognize errors quickly, further increasing revenue.

Why it's wise to specialize

Dr. Morris's two specialties (refractive surgery care and dry eye management) are increasingly in demand. The two areas complement one another, he notes, and Colorado's arid environment and the active lifestyle of the population, in addition to the advancing age of the baby boomer generation, combine to make them a driving force in the expansion of his practice.

Dr. Morris says that the diagnosis of dry eye doesn't require special equipment. He builds a strong relationship with patients through managing the chronic disease, and they're another excellent source of referrals.


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2003