Insights From Our Editors

OD Supply: Prepare for Sharp Increase in Competition

March 25, 2015

Your competition for patients will increase sharply over the next five years, findings from The State of the Optometric Profession report suggest. The number of practicing optometrists will grow approximately 2 percent annually through 2020 and reach 46,300 in that year. The net increase will occur as an average of approximately 1,550 ODs graduate and enter practice annually and about 750 ODs retire.

Increased competition is not the only thing that should be on your radar screen. Is your practice prepared for the changes coming in the next two years? Currently, you are losing about 5 percent of your practice patient base to Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes each year. These are patients that are being told they can only see doctors in an ACA-narrowed network and you are not a provider in that narrowed network. Right now the patient losses are so small that most practices have not even picked them up yet, however, big changes are coming. The Affordable Care Act will be completely implemented in the next couple of years. If you are not prepared, your practice losses can be huge.

To prepare your practice now for the changes that are coming, you need to make sure you have mastered the following 10 steps.
1) You currently co-manage patients with excellent document exchanges occurring routinely.
2) You are prepared to see more patients per unit of time.
3) You have positive patient reviews on social media.
4) You are at Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 and working toward MU Stage 3.
5) You are HIPAA compliant.
6) You are routinely coding PQRS.
7) You are prepared to be paid on diagnosis and not on procedure.
8) You are a provider for the Exchanges (Marketplace).
9) You are actively seeking involvement in any narrowed network being formed in your area.
10) You understand what a HEDIS score is and how you contribute to its calculation.

If there are any of the above steps that you have not mastered, then your action plan for this week is to get it done. Now, not later. The clock is ticking … you cannot afford to put this off any longer.

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