This article as originally published in Vision Monday DBA.
MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich.—Henry Ford OptimEyes (HFO), a 20-location, 60-OD practice in southeastern Michigan, wanted to benchmark its performance compared to other independent,
multi-office eyecare groups. The problem was identifying comparable organizations and relevant metrics related to productivity, costs and revenue, said Gail Elias, Henry Ford OptimEyes director of finance. “We wanted to find a collaborative alliance that fit our culture and provided detailed practice benchmarks,” she said. After months of research and due diligence, HFO joined Opti-Port in August 2013. Elias has found Opti-Port to be a community of like-minded companies interested in tracking relevant metrics with additional emphasis on strategic planning, leveraging shared best practices, and increasing staff effectiveness through training and leadership development.
While Opti-Port alliance members can leverage their community for all kinds of best practice ideas and benchmarks, HFO had a particular interest in one area—growing its contact lens business. Contact lenses provide a significant revenue opportunity in eyecare practices, and HFO wanted to determine its competitive position not just within the regional Michigan market but on a national scale. To do so effectively, it needed numbers for comparison. Through Opti-Port, HFO has access to CLX, a web-based contact lens order and management system that gave the organization exactly the perspective it wanted to set goals. “As a finance person, I understand that metrics can help drive the business,” Elias said. Happily, HFO has found that sharing metrics with the team drives success toward its internal goals. “When we provide the data in an accurate and timely way, staff gets immediate feedback and sees meaningful results. We’ve been able to drive improvements in areas that bring greater efficiency,” she said.
Another factor that led HFO to Opti-Port was Eye Care University—a leadership development program offered exclusively to the eyecare industry through Opti-Port and theBell Leadership Institute. “At Henry Ford, we are committed to developing our leadership team and staff,” she said. “The Eye Care University program helped fill our leadership training gap,” Elias said. Some HFO managers attended the Bell Leadership Institute classes in St. Louis, while others attended sessions in Michigan. HFO also plans to enroll all staff members in the Learn Eye Care web training offered by Opti-Port, added Elias, “This self-paced program helps standardize our team education across the organization, teaches necessary technical skills to best serve our patients, and allows staff members to increase their knowledge.”
HFO has discovered that Opti-Port’s practice development opportunities extend beyond Eye Care University and Learn Eye Care. Members might engage with peers and industry leaders at multiple venues. For example, at the annual Managing Managed Care Conference, member executives, billers and insurance specialists collaborate in one setting to share best practices that can lead to improved reimbursements. A post-conference, Opti-Port exclusive online managed care forum connects all members to share follow-up questions and solutions. Other Opti-Port community meetings include the semi-annual SPARK conference held at Vision Expo East and Vision Expo West. Multiple web conferences are also available for learning and member engagement.
Pleased with Improvements and Savings
Elias said that Henry Ford OptimEyes has gained what it was seeking from the alliance with Opti-Port and more. “Even though our original intention for joining Opti-Port was not for the purchasing power that it offered, we have benefited financially from the rebates and savings from some of the partner programs available.” For HFO, the cost savings was just an added benefit on top of the access to key metrics, improvements in contact lens ordering and reporting, and the ability to expand staff training. According to Elias, the connection to a community of other multi-office groups has proven to be a great decision for the organization in more ways than one.