Eye Care is In Unprecedented Growth

Authors: Rose Wynne Brooks, Joel Gaslin, Amnon Keynan

Market data shows that between 2015-2020 the number of cataract patients will increase by 17-18% in the United States. During the same period, the supply of  ophthalmologists entering the market is not growing. By as early as 2020, there will be a shortage of ophthalmologists to treat a more demanding cataract patient base than any time in history.

How will the field of Ophthalmology look, act and work in 1-2 years? There are no clear answers and recent trends have implications for the Ophthalmic Practice of tomorrow.   Today’s successful Refractive Cataract Practices have invested in technology and process improvements to achieve benefits of scale. Others have efficient patient intake processes and yet remain resource constrained. Why the difference?

Because cataract patients require chair-time with the surgeon and all surgeons are different, the surgeon’s time is the unique resource – and the ultimate rate limiter for growth.

And still, patients want to feel trust with their surgeon and enjoy a good experience in their doctor’s office. In many practices, this is a crisis!  There must be a better, more consistent way…

This state of affairs invites creativity and innovation.  How will this impact the delivery of care?  Who will be the winners?  No one knows and history proves that new ideas change the game.

Realizing that more of the same has limitations – adding another counselor, or more front desk resources, etc.- something must change.  Sure, this is probably working for now, but the growth is slow, incremental and what happens when reimbursements go down?

Even more tragic, the Practice “consciousness” does not really notice a change. Everything in the practice is surviving, week to week, month-to- month and year-to- year. Until one day, something breaks.

Getting ahead of the growth opportunity, in the Ophthalmology market, requires action now!

Growth takes conscious commitment. Bold, strong practice leadership making decisive choices; commitment to annual growth targets (e.g. 20% YOY increase in patients and revenue) or a commitment to maintaining current patients and static revenue.  Recognizing the critical constraint – limited number of cataract surgeons.

Each Practice owner must lead and ask, “what is in this growth trend for the practice?”. Innovative, creative practices will embrace this opportunity for strategic growth. Others will draw back or stay in a maintain mode. Which are you?

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