Pros and Cons of Corporate Optometry on the Industry

Corporate optometry has expanded greatly over the years.  It is currently estimated to make up about 30% of the industry and will continue to grow as young optometrists make the decision to go into this sector.  With this expansion come both benefits and costs to the industry, which we will discuss below.

Pros:

1. Employment opportunities for ODs

Corporate optometry creates opportunities and jobs for optometrists looking for employment.  In addition, it is a great option for optometrists who don’t have a lot of experience as business owners and are looking for a turnkey model. ODs don’t have to wait for another OD to retire to become a business owner. Many Corporate ODs have had the ability to have multiple subleases which has been beneficial for those ODs.

2. Increased pay rate and benefits

Corporate optometry can provide higher starting salaries and pay rates than average along with better benefits for some ODs.  The days and hours an optometrist works likely will affect the rate in which the optometrist is paid; for example, optometrists are sometimes paid higher by corporate opticals on Sundays.  In addition, corporate optometry offers generous bonus structures.

3. Loan repayments

Some corporate opticals will offer loan repayments to young ODs who are burdened by student debt.  This is great incentive for young ODs to start a career in corporate optometry. Most often, corporate opticals will offer loan repayments when trying to recruit ODs to more remote locations where it is difficult to find doctors in order to spark greater interest in new ODs.

4. Innovation and Competition

Corporate optometry has revolutionized the customer and shopping experience in the industry; for example, the one-hour eye glass service has completely changed the customer’s eye care experience.  The innovation of corporate opticals to better cater to their customers leads to competition and helps to keep practices top-notch. New ideas created within corporate optometry therefore bring the industry forward.

5. Global impact

Corporate optometry has allowed the industry to have a greater impact globally.  Many corporate opticals work with charities to use their business for the greater good; for example, Warby Parker’s “buy a pair, give a pair” program is a system in which, for every pair of glasses purchased, a pair is given to someone in need, and many corporate opticals supply underprivileged companies with glasses and eye exams.  In addition, some corporate opticals provide on-sight global clinics to provide eye care for people in underdeveloped countries.

Cons

1. Exclusions from insurance panels

Being with a specific corporate optical can exclude doctors from certain insurance panels; for example, Walmart doctors are unable to take EyeMed.  Because of this, a doctor may have to turn away some patients. In addition, closed panels can funnel patients into a certain corporate optical, which can be a disadvantage for other practices in terms of creating a patient base.

2. Vertical integration

Corporate opticals may have ownership over a variety of stages of production and may sell their own products, frames, lenses, etc., which can result in a reduced price for their customers.  This creates a disadvantage to private practices or other corporate opticals that can’t compete at a severe discount. In addition, the possibility of pushing a company’s own products rather than alternative products might not always have the best outcome for the consumer in the long run.

3. Consolidation

As more companies merge together, only a few large players in the industry are created, making it difficult for smaller practices to have a voice.  In addition, consolidation of companies limits the customer’s options when it comes to eye care. Consolidation needs to happen though if companies want to compete with online retailers and how customers want low prices with fast service.

4. Movements

Corporate opticals are more easily able to create big movements or waves of change in the industry compared to smaller practices.  While these movements are created in the corporation’s best interest, they may not necessarily be in the patients’ or the industry’s best interest as a whole.

In conclusion, there are both pros and cons of corporate optometry on the industry that should be considered.  Whether working under a corporate optical or not, doctors have the ability to be a voice for other ODs and for their patients to make positive changes in the industry and create a better future. 

How Corporate Optometry allows ODs to focus on Patient Care

Corporate optometry is a great option for ODs who want to practice optometry but do not want to feel overwhelmed by the business aspects of the job.  It is ideal both for optometrists who do not feel they have enough business experience to start their own practices and for those who simply want to focus more on the patient-centric aspect of their career.  Here are some ways that corporate optometry may allow you as an OD to focus on your patient care first and foremost.

1. Your job is to focus on the patient.

As a corporate optometrist, your main focus is to see patients without the distractions of the optical and managing staff. Focusing on the patient is what we went to school for. We don’t have to worry about competition, we can focus on our patients and use the extra time to stay up to date on the latest clinical trends. Corporate optometry allows you to see different types of patients because the volume is usually greater, thus enhancing your clinical skills seeing a wide variety of patients. his is a great way for you as an optometrist to see a wide variety of conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, and gain experience recognizing and managing these conditions. 

2. Technology

Corporate optometry will provide you will have easier access to resources and discounts from corporate partners.  You will also be able to purchase technology a lot sooner if you are a sublease or the latest technology will be offered to you as an employee. Many young ODs are learning the latest in the eye care. Why not be able to utilize that knowledge by working in a corporate setting? Many offices have digital refracting lanes, optos, octs. Different corporate opticals have different approaches. Don’t lump all corporate opticals as the same!

Corporate optometry may be right for you if you are not interested in the daily practice management struggles that many ODs face with the optical side of the business and managing staff turnover. Retail optometry will continue to grow over the next 10 years. Find which corporate optical is right for you and your career goals.

3 Solutions to Optical Staff Issues in Corporate Optometry.

Working in the corporate optometry has its own set of challenges that many Corporate ODs face. If you are leasing space from the corporate optical, you may run into some complications with your regional manager and the optical staff.

If you are not careful, some form of miscommunication can lead to issues like mishandling of appointments, mismanagement of patients and not getting your insurances verified regularly.

These sublease issues coupled together can really affect your performance and cause patient dissatisfaction. Follow these simple steps to overcome these problems and make sure nothing comes between you and your patient.

Hire Your Own Staff

As a sublease OD, you have to let go of some control when it comes to administrative and managerial work. If the staff works directly under the corporation, scheduling errors may occur because you haven’t had the chance to train the staff.

In such cases, you can always request to hire your own staff and train them according to your needs and objectives. This requires some time and effort from your end. But once you’ve managed to train your team, you’ll have more administrative control and you can make your own rules keeping patient care as the topmost priority.

Schedule a Meeting

If you are not able to hire your own staff, you can always schedule a meeting with your managers and staff. During the meeting, you can raise your concerns in detail. Understand their objectives and expectations, and figure out a strategy to keep yourself and the staff satisfied.

Communication is extremely important. You need to let them know that the problem at hand is affecting the quality of patient care, and as a team, you should work together to enhance the patient experience.

Check Your Lease

Checking your lease may be one of the simplest ways to solve your problems. Your lease has all the requirements and role expectations stated clearly. If your staff has been mismanaging your patients and their appointments, then you can print out your lease and inform them of their tasks.

This will help clear up the confusion of who’s in the wrong and you will be able to get to the bottom of the issue more quickly.

It is important to know the roles of employees working for you to make sure everything runs smoothly and no one falls out of line.

One precautionary measure you should take is to have access to your own phone line (unless your sublease agreement doesn’t allow you, in which case, make sure to negotiate before

signing the lease). Many times the phone line given to you is a property of the corporate optical and, if you decide to end things with them, you can lose all contact with your patients.

As patient demands and expectations are increasing, you need to make sure there are effective business processes in place fulfilling those needs. You need to give immediate attention to any problems you face because with every mistake you make, you could potentially lose a patient forever.