PECAA Member Spotlight: Opening a New Practice

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By: Rebecca Chown, OD
Indian Creek Family Eyecare – Hood River, OR

In May of 2013, I celebrated 10 years as an Optometrist. I have had the opportunity to practice in a variety of settings…the Air Force, a busy multidisciplinary clinic, university owned ophthalmology clinics, and a Medicaid only private practice clinic.
In the summer of 2012, I made the decision to open my own clinic in Hood River, OR. In a time where the future of healthcare is so uncertain, a person would be insane to open an optometry clinic cold. Being a PECAA Member has made this uncertain time a little less worrisome by allowing me to be part of an organization that provides help for the independent optometrist. I joined PECAA prior to opening my clinic in April of 2013. PECAA helped by providing the framework needed for setting up a private practice; everything from frame and lab selection to clinic design. Cindy Schmitt, PECAA’s Member Services Manager, was amazing to work with and allowed me to get work done more efficiently by scheduling appointments with each of the requested vendors.
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Q: What would you consider the most important benefit that PECAA provides to a new practitioner?
Building industry relationships are one of the most challenging parts of being a single doctor new practice. It can take several years to establish a relationship that PECAA can accomplish in a single phone call. PECAA works hard to build industry partners for their members and fights for the best contracts. They make sure that these partners maintain contractual obligations for each of their members, allowing us the time to focus on what we do best, patient care.
Q: How has your practice taken advantage of PECAA Member events and networking opportunities?
Another valuable part of being a PECAA Member is networking with other doctors…both new in practice and those with more experience. Peer-to-Peer Dinners provide a great opportunity to meet other optometric physicians in the local area. At the last Peer-to-Peer, after it became known that my clinic just opened, I had several PECAA Members approach me and extend out offers to help if needed.
These relationships with other more seasoned practices are what young clinics need to succeed. I’ve also attended the Business Symposium and Annual Meeting, which allow networking on a much broader scale. I really enjoy the breakout sessions where similar practices are grouped together for what can sometimes be controversial topics of discussion.
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Q: How does your practice plan to utilize PECAA in the first year(s) of practice?
Our practice has utilized pretty much every Vendor program that PECAA has to offer. My practice loan is through a PECAA Partner, the labs I use are PECAA Partners, over 75% of our frames are from PECAA Partners and our contact lens distributor is a PECAA Partner. In the near future, we hope to acquire an OCT and are also in the process of evaluating our credit card fees. Utilizing PECAA’s vendor partnerships and programs have helped me save a lot of money.
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Q: What strategies have you used for gaining new patients and marketing your new practice?
I have been living in Hood River, Oregon (population of approximately 7,000) for the last seven years…this is truly when my marketing began. I volunteer within my community, make donations to charitable organizations, and coordinate care with local medical physicians at the community health clinic. We have a website and a Facebook page. We have tried radio advertising, the small town newspaper/medical directory, ThinkAboutYourEyes.com, The Gorge Magazine, and sponsoring local events. That being said, the number one force driving patients to our clinic is word of mouth. People talk about their experiences. Our patients have been our number one asset. In the near future, we have plans to survey our patients and ask for testimonials…social media will be our ongoing focus for marketing.
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