Monday, May 11, 2015

There is no doubt about it – change is constant!  I am sure that you have seen the announcement that Rob Lynch will be retiring as CEO of VSP Global and will be succeeded by Jim McGrann, the current President of VSP Vision Care.  This upcoming change has led me to a time of reflection as I look back at the very successful past ten years and look forward to an exciting future.

To say the eye care industry has changed in the last ten years would be an understatement.  Clearly, much has happened since President Bush began his second term and since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Independent optometry was faced with many challenges, each with the potential to be disruptive.  The optical marketplace saw unprecedented consolidation.  A fundamental change occurred from employer funded benefits to voluntary participation.  The internet has enabled unparalleled access to information, fueling a marked increase in consumerism among our patients.  And let’s not forget Health Care Reform and its potential to direct patients to certain providers.  To our credit, our profession has met every challenge and continued to move forward.

So what is ahead of us in the next ten years?   Well, nothing is harder to predict than the future, but let me list a few of the trends.   Online shopping will continue to increase as Millennials emerge in the market place.  Social media has changed the way information is exchanged and requires that we have a strategy going forward.  Potentially disruptive technologies like telemedicine will need to be monitored and evaluated.  Private equity will continue to pump money into our industry and attempt to change the competitive landscape.  In a nutshell, it will be critical that we stay on our toes if we are to stay ahead of the changes.

So, what is a doctor to do?    First of all, we need to carefully evaluate our marketplace.  We need to continuously reinvent our strategies and let the obsolete ones go.  We must be much more selective in choosing our industry partners and modify the way we view vendor relationships.  We must make opportunities in independent practice for the next generation of doctors because it is they who will carry the baton going forward.  So, let’s keep our boxing gloves laced up and make good strategic decisions so that we can be agents of change in our industry.  Our enemy is complacency, let’s not go there.  As Yogi Berra put it, “the other teams could make trouble for us if we don’t win.”

VSP Global has added over 30 million covered lives to the patient pool for the independent doctor over the past ten years.   Access means opportunity.  Jim McGrann comes to the helm with a technology background and is well equipped to continue to lead in the quest to add to our patient base while providing competitive supply chain solutions.  I see great things ahead for independent optometry.

CareCredit: Growth, retention, and savings all in one new program

Thursday, April 9, 2015

VSP’s primary mission is to help people see and as VSP approaches its 60th anniversary; its growth now provides access to over 70,000,000 members (patients) to over 32,000 providers (doctors). As one of those providers, my primary mission is to make sure my patients have healthy eyes and that they have access to the eyewear that they need to maximize their lifestyle. That may include indoor glasses, outdoor glasses and/or hobby or recreational glasses and/or contact lenses. VSP provides our members with an excellent plan to cover their eye exam and materials, but sometimes our patients may have additional wants or needs.

The good news is that VSP has developed an exciting new agreement with CareCredit, the nation’s largest healthcare credit card, to help practices better satisfy those lifestyle needs, leading to greater patient growth and retention, along with substantial savings on processing rates.  Effective April 1st, Premier Program practices receive a 40% savings on processing rates for promotional financing offers, while all other VSP network providers get a 25% savings. (more…)

We See Progress and Possibility

Monday, April 6, 2015

Photo of Matthew Alpert OD with Soweto school children

Matthew Alpert, OD, with school children from the Soweto community

Phumla, a 16-year-old student who aspires to be a doctor, struggled to learn and feared crossing the street due to vision issues. Keamogetswe, an 11-year-old who loves school, saw his grades steadily decline as his vision got “worse and worse.”

These are just two of the nearly 1,500 students in Soweto, South Africa, who have received free comprehensive eye exams and glasses through We See: A Child Eye Health Project

It’s rewarding to see such strong progress since I traveled to Soweto in April 2014 to launch We See with the aim of reducing uncorrected visual impairment among schoolchildren by 90% over three years. The project takes a unique approach that reimagines philanthropy by pairing the strengths of the VSP Global businesses with Brien Holden Vision Institute, a leading player in the industry, and the local government to create a sustainable solution to a critical health need. (more…)