Opening Cold – Part 1 – Tips4EyeDocs Daily – 16 Jan 2012 – Number 27

There was a time that an optometrist could open an office with an exam lane consisting of a phoropter, keratometer, slit lamp and a direct ophthalmoscope. A typical lane like this could be purchased for less than $20,000.  To this day, some doctors still practice with just this setup.

Today,  graduates face a much more complicated decision.  Improved medical and even minor surgical training in optometry schools have led to expanded scope of practice laws in practically every state in the United States. Coupled with medical plan reimbursement, the urge and compulsion to buy as much technology as they can is strong. Add the constant fear of missed diagnosis and mismanagement and one can see why new practice owners feel overwhelmed.

Although the drive to be a private practice owner is strong, there is often little that a graduate can do to lessen the anxiety of a new practice. Practice management consultants are plentiful, but their effectiveness vary greatly.  Instrument vendors have a vested self interest in selling as much as they can.  Senior doctor mentors try to apply their own success to the new graduate. It may seem that no particular entity has the new graduate’s best interest in mind.

Answers to these concerns are not readily available from anyone.  But one truth still remains.  Most optometrists still derive more than half, if not more  of their revenue from spectacle and contact lens sales and services. If this maxim can be trusted, then it makes sense that your equipment purchases should equal this proprortion. For instances,  if your basic lane equipment
costs $20,000, then the combined cost of all other examination equipment should not exceed it.

Succeeding posts will explore the many facets of opening “cold”.  Just in case you were wondering I have opened “cold” twice, once in a suburb of a city of 350,000 in an office park  and again in a 4th floor in a high rise office building on the central shopping district  of a city of 750,000.

About Richard Hom OD, MPA

Dr. Hom holds Doctor of Optometry and Masters in Public Administration degrees and practices family eye care and consults on public policy, health information technology and program evaluation.
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1 Response to Opening Cold – Part 1 – Tips4EyeDocs Daily – 16 Jan 2012 – Number 27

  1. Steve Vargo says:

    Interesting topic Richard. The environment certainly has changed over the years, but I still think ownership is a worthwhile goal for ODs. I think we need to find ways to market our brand and services in a way that allows us to thrive in spite of the challenges (managed care, corporate competition, etc). I look forward to future articles on this topic.

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