Article Date: 5/1/2003

Book Excerpt
201 Secrets of a High Performance Optometric Practice
Bob Levoy, O.D.

201 Secrets
of a High
Performance Optometric Practice

Bob Levoy, O.D.

Heinemann, 2002

Reprinted from pages xvi, 67,69,76 and 79 with
permission granted from Elsevier Inc. Copyright 2003
Elsevier Inc.



Real Practices. Real Solutions. In the course of my career, I've had the privilege of conducting over 2,500 seminars for a wide range of business and professional groups throughout North America and overseas.

As part of the market research for these programs, I've visited countless professional practices not only in optometry, but also in medicine, dentistry, podiatry, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, accounting and law among others. It has enabled me to meet hundreds of high performance practitioners in each of these professions and ask them such questions as:

► What makes your practice so successful?

► What are you doing differently than others to account for your success?

► What are the secrets of hiring top-notch employees and how do you keep them motivated?

► What have been your toughest management problems and how did you solve them?

► What do you wish you had done differently?

► What lessons did you learn that may help others avoid costly mistakes?

Their answers became the foundation of this book.


"What's the worst thing you can say about another doctor?" asks otolaryngologist/ allergist Martin H. Zwerling, Aiken, S.C. "That he's incompetent, lazy, dishonest? No -- the worst thing you can say is, 'I've never heard of him.'

"Building your own practice," he adds, "means developing effective relationships with your colleagues in the community."

Networking is one means of getting known and developing effective relationships with colleagues and other healthcare practitioners that lead to the sharing of information and often, reciprocal referrals. These include primary care physicians, ophthalmologists, other optometrists, neurologists, pediatricians, plastic surgeons, pharmacists, psychologists, athletic coaches, occupational therapists, hospital emergency room personnel, school nurses, teachers, among others.

This chapter describes some of the ways that high performance optometrists have used networking to forge these relationships.

From the success files:

In the last two years, Jason Clopton, O.D., of Cookeville, Tenn., has examined more than 200 infants in conjunction with the Operation Bright Start program. About 15 had vision problems including undiagnosed amblyopia and strabismus. After sending reports to the families' physicians, the referrals began coming in -- not only from physicians, but also from impressed parents. What I didn't anticipate when I started," Dr. Clopton told me, "is the tremendous impact this program would have on my practice."

"When our doctor recently spoke to a group of school psychologists," says April Nolan, assistant to behavioral optometrist, Janet Kohtz, O.D., of Riverside, Calif., "we soon realized that the kids they were most interested in getting help for were those who lacked self-esteem. Right away they saw the connection between visual problems, learning problems, self-esteem and inappropriate or violent behavior in the classrooms and on the playgrounds. Already they're referring patients and we held the talk just a week ago."

Secret # 75:
Oculoplastic Co-management

Oculoplastic comanagement may prove to be lucrative for optometry as more types of surgeons are branching out into eyelid surgery, says Eric Schmidt, O.D., of Elizabethtown, N.C. "You'll get involved with not only oculoplastic surgeons but with the regular plastic surgeons, some oral surgeons and maxillofacial surgeons. Most of them don't have visual field instruments, so the patients will end up paying full fee for the surgery. You can inform those doctors that the patient may be able to get insurance to cover a portion of the surgery by having a visual field test done to prove that the blepharoplasty will improve their field of vision and hence, improve their lifestyle. This is an avenue to increase referrals to the optometrist's practice."

Secret #80:
Hard-Learned Lessons About Networking

It's important to realize that networking is not an "entitlement program" in which you are eligible for referrals because you want or need them. It's not giving away business cards and asking for referrals. It's not "lunch" with a professional colleague with the expectation of referrals in exchange. As one physician expressed it, my referrals aren't for sale.

"I feel I could go into any practice of any size in any city and convince at least one M.D. to work with me," says John McCall, O.D., of Crockett, Texas. "All I'd have to say is, 'I have many patients with needs outside my scope of care. As long as you respect my right to practice within my scope of care, we can work together on meeting their needs. We'll increase the draw for both of our practices.'"

James C. Leadingham, O.D., of Ashland, Ky., says, "You're better off finding top-of-the-line specialists in ophthalmology (corneal, glau coma, retinal and cataract), developing good rapport and referring patients to them -- than you are spreading your referrals among many ophthalmologists. Everyone wins with that strategy."

"Seventy percent of my practice is M.D.-referral based," says Arthur B. Epstein, O.D., F.A.A.O., of Roslyn, N.Y. "When we got TPAs, I was concerned it was going to have a significant dampening effect on the practice. Fortunately, it hasn't. I think it's actually led to greater respect and greater understanding between optometry and ophthalmology, and I think this will hold true for the profession as we continue to evolve."

Some optometrists make these initial networking contacts, perhaps exchange information and if it doesn't generate immediate referrals, they give up on the idea. "Been there. Done that," they say. But they fail to recognize that networking is an on-going process, not a one-time event.


Topics Include

* Gain a Competitive Advantage * Attract Private Pay Patients * Long-Range Strategic Planning * Revenue Enhancement and Growth * Market Research * Networking * Patient Loyalty * Fees * Hiring * Personnel Management * Staff Motivation * Stress Management * Generate Referrals * Patient Retention


Optometric Management, Issue: May 2003