Planning For The Future
Chris Millet, PECAA’s Chief Operating Officer, answers questions on how the Independent ECP can effectively plan for the future in order to compete and succeed in the evolving eye care industry. He offers tips on adopting new technologies, implementing smart marketing strategies and understanding your patient demographics. This article is part of PECAA’s sponsored editorial series, appearing in the December, 2014 issue of Eye Care Business magazine.
What industry changes will be most challenging for the Independent ECP?
The biggest future challenge is how managed care, and eyecare benefit plans in general, will dictate patient care. We see more plans starting to promote certain products or require practitioners to use a certain supplier.
What strategies can be implemented now to prepare for coming changes?
Understand the benefits of being on the different insurance plans’ panels. At PECAA, we talk with our Members every day about the importance of understanding patient demographics. It’s important to know what percentage of exams come from each plan vs. the overall net revenue per patient.
How can doctors educate patients in order to maintain and improve patient retention?
It is crucial to be proactive in educating patients about complete eye health care. As ECPs, we can embrace technology to enhance communication and aid in the education process. Social media, a professional website, in-office tutorials, and a well-trained staff are all useful education tools.
How can the Independent ECP use technology to strengthen their practice’s future?
A smart marketing approach using Facebook, Twitter and other social channels can help create a personalized relationship with patients. Most of these platforms cost less than a telephone book listing and provide 10 times the ROI.
What consumer issues will have the greatest impact on eye care?
Consumer buying habits and the outlets they purchase from are changing rapidly. Millennials are more likely to use smartphones to make everyday purchases as opposed to driving to a retail store.
How can Independents compete and succeed despite these issues?
Invest in online marketing, social media, and other tech-driven platforms, to not only keep patients from purchasing elsewhere, but to attract new patients. Adopting a digital marketing strategy and establishing an online presence will be critical to future success.
What can doctors do now to get ahead of the curve?
If your practice already uses social media, go one step further and develop a complete social marketing strategy. If not, get onboard quickly. Take the time to determine what demographic you want to reach and develop a strategy around the platforms your target demographic uses most.
What are the most important things doctors should be doing to position their businesses for success?
The most important thing is to establish your practice’s brand identity and determine who your target audience is. If you know who you are, what you want to do and who you want to sell to, you can create an effective marketing campaign that will attract the type of patient you are looking for.
How does being a member of a Doctor Alliance Group, such as PECAA, help ECP’s plan for the future?
Ask, “What do I want from a group?” To save money with current vendors or ways to improve the overall practice health? COPE education or business education? Generic practice management or help in developing a sound business strategy? All groups can address cost of goods, but only a few like PECAA can help Members build and maintain a successful business.