It’s no secret that ophthalmology is a difficult and highly competitive profession, requiring years of education and dedication. On top of this, ophthalmology professionals face growing challenges, including steadily declining reimbursements and a widening imbalance between overhead costs and revenue. In fact, the average Medicare reimbursement for one hospital-based ophthalmology procedure decreased from about $1,925 in 1986 to $772.78 in 1999, a trend which has continued ever since. At the same time, patient expectations continue to rise each year. Similar challenges are present across the field of optometry, but reimbursement declines have been especially drastic for ophthalmology procedures (such as cataract surgeries), making it more and more difficult to maintain a successful ophthalmology practice.
Fortunately, there are many best practices and creative strategies you can employ to maximize reimbursements, counteract declines and overcome these challenges. And the good news is: you don’t have to go at it alone! Professional optometry consulting is an invaluable resource that can put you on the path to success and help you reach your full potential in the field of ophthalmology. This article will outline some of the key benefits, financial, emotional, and otherwise, of working with ophthalmology consultants.
An Introduction to Ophthalmology Consultants
Ophthalmology consultants are one of the best-kept secrets of the most successful practices. Like other types of consultants, ophthalmology consultants can offer an external, objective analysis of various aspects of your practice — from billing and coding to HR and much more. Because the field of ophthalmology is so specialized, you will find it most valuable to seek assistance and advice from a consultant that is equally specialized and experienced in the field and can offer more specific recommendations.
10 Key Benefits to Working with Ophthalmology Consultants
Working with specialized, experienced ophthalmology consultants can improve all areas of your practice, from finances to employee retention and much more. A strong, ongoing partnership with a consultant you trust will not only help to make your practice more efficient and profitable in the long run but will also present countless learning opportunities for you and your team. Plus, the emotional benefits of reduced stress and knowing you are not in it alone will make you a more confident and fearless leader of your practice.
Below are just a few of the many ways in which a consultant can help assess and improve specific areas of your practice:
Overall Practice Assessment: To begin, a specialized ophthalmology consultant can complete a thorough, overall practice assessment for you. This will likely include a profit & loss analysis and a review of your key performance indicators to determine areas of improvement and help you develop action plans to achieve results.
Billing & Coding Support: Not only are billing errors common in the medical profession, they are costly. Studies show that roughly 80 percent of all medical bills contain billing errors. Furthermore, it is estimated that 25% of all medical practice income is lost due to these billing errors. A specific optical billing and coding consultation can help improve your practice’s efficiency, compliance and profitability. They can help you identify frequent errors and make a plan to address this through staff changes, specific training, more thorough reviews and more. They can also help you explore the option of outsourcing your billing and coding if issues cannot be addressed internally. For more information on optical billing support, read: Optometry Billing Consultation: Know Your Options.
Accounts Receivable Management: What condition is your accounts receivable in? A consultant can provide a detailed review of your accounts receivable management and discuss solutions to improve profitability.
Staffing Analysis and Incentives: A specialized consultant can help determine whether your staff is performing efficiently and effectively and identify potential areas for improvement. Based on the result of the analysis, a consultant may suggest staff changes or areas where more optometry staff training or support is needed. A consultant can also provide you with creative ideas for motivating and incentivizing optical staff, which can help improve employee performance, morale, effectiveness and retention.
Marketing Support: A consultant can also provide you with ideas on how to successfully brand and market your practice to reach new clients and engage your community. If this is an area where you need more support, a consultant can connect you with more specialized optometry marketing support services, such as website development, social media management, design and print services, and more.
Human Resources Support: Do you ever struggle with difficult employment issues, perplexing regulations, safety concerns, or general personnel matters? A consultant or optometry HR support center can help you work through these common challenges and more. A specialized ophthalmology consultant can advise on more industry-specific challenges as well, such as HIPAA questions and concerns.
Practice Valuations: If you are thinking about transitioning out of the field or selling your practice, a consultant can help complete a practice valuation and assessment.
Progress Monitoring: Working with an ophthalmology consultant doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. A longer-term, ongoing consultancy can evaluate your performance each quarter to help monitor your progress on set benchmarks and goals.
Improve Customer Experience: A ophthalmology consultant can also help you keep up with ever-increasing patient expectations and provide recommendations on how to improve your customer experience. With hands-on, industry-specific experience, they can analyze how patients experience every aspect of your practice and make suggestions to streamline the intake process, improve wait times, simplify registration processes and more.
Select and Implement the Best Software: A industry-specific consultant can help you select and incorporate the best software systems into your practice, including Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Electronic Health Record (EHR) software. With the right software, you will be better positioned to receive incentive payments.
BONUS: Stay Informed! An ongoing consultancy will help ensure that you remain up-to-date on best practices and changes in the industry, and help you adapt to those changes as needed. This will also help ensure your compliance when regulations change.
As you can see, the many benefits that can come from working with an ophthalmology consultant are not only financial but emotional as well — providing you with priceless peace of mind and ensuring you and your team members feel supported, confident and motivated to reach your full potential.
Connecting with an Ophthalmology Consultant
Just imagine how your practice can transform and thrive with all of these incredible benefits! Ongoing, specialized optometry consulting in all of these areas and more is a complimentary resource for all PECAA members. Our PECAA Member Business Advisor (MBA) Experience is an initiative that aims to give eye care professionals a thorough, outside perspective on their business. The service is ongoing and begins with an assessment of your eye care practice followed by custom recommendations from experienced and specialized Business & Financial, Billing & Coding or Practice Operations Advisors. Together, these advisors help determine potential areas for improvement and create a customized plan to drive and monitor results.
Don’t just take our word for it though; check out the reviews of our consulting services below:
The Member Business Advisor program at PECAA has been extremely helpful for our optometric practice in analyzing and understanding our numbers, as well as setting benchmarks and goals. We look forward to our quarterly meetings where we evaluate our performance on Glimpse and compare it to the national averages. This has really helped us identify the areas we needed to improve, and we have been able to focus and make appropriate changes in our practice. I really appreciate the individualized attention they have given us. The advice has been an invaluable asset to our practice! – Dr. Mila Ioussifova
Words cannot express how pleased we are with the PECAA MBA Program. On-site education assures that all staff will be up to date with new ideas for our practice and improvement objectives. Financial reviews provide our Doctor and Practice Manager with operational insight and areas for improved profitability and patient satisfaction. We could not be happier with the MBA Program. – Ms. Patti Bushnell
As a new optometric practice owner, I found the PECAA MBA program to be particularly helpful. It was so valuable to have someone outside of my practice to look at my metrics, give advice and help me set goals for the future of my practice. Every doctor who is a PECAA Member should take advantage of this service. It is such a fantastic program to have included in our dues. – Dr. Jen Burke
In addition to the robust consulting services outlined above, joining PECAA opens up countless networking and educational opportunities, as well as other benefits, to learn, connect, build, grow and prosper in the field of optometry. Join us today!