FROM THE EDITOR
In the large venue of health care, vision care from plans like VSP, EyeMed, DavisVision and others are but support players. Although the stakes for the employee or the employer are not high, they are important to optometry. In fact, it is high on the list of worries for the average optometrist.
One afternoon this week, I had a chance to chat with Dr. Tim Jankowski, Chairman of the Board of VSP Global (“VSP”). The purpose of this conversation was to explore the environment which VSP works under and the objectives it hopes to achieve. For those who don’t know Dr. Jankowski, he continues to practice optometry in Southern California. He is also a testament to VSP’s heritage of having direct input from optometry with his position on the Board of Directors, a feature that no other vision plan has.
To Dr. Jankowski, the core objective of VSP is to focus on the private optometrist by providing a steady access to patients. That sounds simple. But achieving it in the midst of varying state and federal regulations, market conditions and scopes of practice means it is a complex balancing act. With such a simple focus, it should mean that the message of that mission is clear and distinguished.
But to many optometrists, that message has not been clear. In fact, the message is muddled and some optometrists even believe that VSP is being counter productive to their needs. VSP recognizes the huge task of communication it needs to do to ensure that its focus and mission is clear to every optometrist.
Town Meetings have helped. But much work remains to be done. Clearly, many more doctors need to hear VSP’s message. How that will occur isn’t known yet. I think that a grassroots effort is needed to engage as many optometrists as possible.
VSP won’t disappear overnight. It will not desert the private practice doctor. But it will not likely look the same in the next few years as it was in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I believe that VSP is trying to do well by its member panel doctors. It just needs to find the proper message and the proper medium to deliver it.
I remain hopeful that VSP will reflect the needs of its doctor as it traverses the tricky waters of market conditions, employer and employee needs and the somewhat uncertain support from every area of optometry. Optometry should probably realize that VSP has done the profession well. It is just not so obvious to all optometrists.