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5 Things I Learned at the 2016 Vision Source Exchange

This is a sponsored post by Vision Source, a supporter of NewGradOptometry & new graduate optometrists! 😎 

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Vision Source held its annual meeting March 16-19 in San Antonio, Texas.

Cdr_FqcWEAEDeNLThey call it the Exchange – and for good reason. It is an opportunity for all Vision Source members and staff to come together to share ideas, discuss best practices, learn about new technologies, and participate in a collaborative exchange of information among the nation’s leading optometrists.

This was my fourth year at the Exchange, and every time I leave with a wealth of information.

Here are my top take home points this year:

1) The Vision Source – Essilor Partnership

Many of you may already know that Vision Source was acquired by Essilor about nine months ago.

This caused a lot of buzz in our profession, and honestly I expected the acquisition to cause a lot of changes for this year’s Exchange. The truth is, Vision Source is the same company it was before, just with more support from one of the industry’s greatest allies.

Each Vision Source doctor is still an independent practitioner, free to utilize whatever products he or she chooses.

The way I see it, Essilor has always been a friend to independent optometrists – now they just have an even greater motivation – maybe even an obligation – to help us be successful.

2) Vendor Relations & Discounts

Vision Source doctors get the industry’s best pricing on products from Elite Vendors.

Contact lens manufacturers, frame companies, distributors, and diagnostic equipment vendors give detailed (and often theatrical) presentations on their new products in the general session. Later, in the exhibit hall you can get an up close and hands-on look at the innovative technologies and quality services designed to increase revenues and maximize profits. These industry-leading companies form a true partnership with our doctors and staff, dedicated to our continued education and increased profitability.

3) Strategic Positioning in the Medical Community

Although it is more commonly known for its leverage with regard to vendor pricing, Vision Source continues to position itself at the forefront of the medical model.Cd8FnX8W0AAE6fa

By negotiating agreements and partnerships with accountable care organizations (ACOs), Vision Source helps ensure that we as independent practitioners do not get left behind as our nation’s health care system evolves.

They have done extensive research on what the ACOs and physicians groups are looking for when they partner with external providers and have helped us institute quality reporting, diabetic management protocols, and net promoter score analysis to better prepare ourselves for integration into these various systems.

The leaders of Vision Source have already brokered alliances with multiple health systems across the country, with many more soon to be added.

4) Innovations to Compete with the Commoditization of Eye Care

We all know that our profession is facing attacks on multiple fronts – from insurance companies, telemedicine, online retailers, and online “refraction.”

Our training and knowledge continue to be devalued and disrespected as parts of our profession transform into commodities rather than medical care. Vision Source has recognized this shift in the industry and is providing new resources to help private practice optometrists stay competitive.

Fitting Box is a virtual frame selection tool that allows the patient to see various frames on their face in real time video.
This state of the art technology from Europe was launched exclusively to Vision Source practices in the United States. Not only
is it sleek, impressive technology with the “wow factor,” but it allows offices to virtually expand their frame inventory. For example, my practice has about 600 pieces in our frame room, but with the implementation of Fitting Box, our patients will have access to almost 4,000 frames from our current vendors!

Last year Vision Source launched the Optical Dream, a program of staff education, special pricing, and marketing strategies to provide patients with the eyewear they need (and want) while increasing optical revenues.

The program has been a great success, increasing participating practices’ revenues by an average of 8 percent (more than double the industry average of 3%)! In the next two years they are taking it a step further and launching the Frame Dream, which will allow one to two day turnaround time from participating labs by housing Vision Source frame distribution centers close by.

What a great way to deliver faster, quality service to our patients!

5) Vision Source is Our Practice Management Partner

The practice management resources developed and provided (for free!) by Vision Source are invaluable to independent practitioners.

We get a custom website, social media consultants, marketing analysis, financial performance tools – ALL provided as member benefits. Some Vision Source vendors have even partnered with us for nationwide television ad campaigns, allowing for brand recognition across the country.

And don’t forget the staff!

VS Learning is an online training program offered for staff development, and the Vision Source Representative (VSR) Program allows staff members from regional offices to collaborate and share best practices.

In fact, the freedom to share ideas and wisdom may be the best member benefit of all. The exchange of ideas and success stories builds a comradery and support structure that is second to none.

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If all that wasn’t enough…this year marked the 25th anniversary of Vision Source, so the Exchange opened with a celebration featuring a live concert by legendary rockers ZZ Top, and the conference wrapped up with a very special giveaway – a 2016 Ford Mustang!

Unfortunately, I didn’t come home with a car, but I DID gain a lot of valuable knowledge about how to be a better doctor and a more successful business owner.

If you are interested in learning more about joining a group of over 4,000 of the nation’s top ODs, consider joining us as a guest at next year’s Vision Source Exchange in Nashville. Hope to see you there!

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About Shane Foster

Shane Foster
Dr. Shane Foster is part owner of a five-doctor, two-location private practice in Athens, Ohio. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Optometric Association. His practice is affiliated with Vision Source, and his partners are Area Administrators for Vision Source. Dr. Foster practices full scope optometry, with special interests in specialty contact lenses and children's vision issues.

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