By Renee Reinholdt, OD
June 8, 2022
When I started my career, I knew I wanted to focus on medical eyecare. Once I knew that, I then needed to decide on a practice setting that would complement my primary interest as an optometrist.
Here is how I ended up owning two independent optometry practices adjacent to Walmart stores–and enhancing my focus on medical eyecare.
I started out at a private practice in a small town in Iowa while working part-time at nearby Walmart Vision Centers. I then moved to Indianapolis and had my first corporate lease. In 2013, I moved to St. George, Utah, for warmer weather and started my affiliation with Walmart as an independent practice owner.
I now have two independent practices adjacent to Walmart, one in Richfield, Utah, and another in Mesquite, Nev. I opened the Utah office in 2013 and the Nevada office in 2017. Both of these Walmart stores serve rural areas. My patient demographics draw from a mostly older, retired population, especially in the Mesquite office.
The older patient base in a part of the country where there is not an over-saturation of healthcare providers is a perfect fit for my medical eyecare focus.
Medical Eyecare Made Easier
My experience working in offices located adjacent to Walmart stores has been great. I am an independent optometrist, and am able to practice a medical model of optometry.
Walmart provided an exam lane and pretesting equipment. I then acquired more equipment on my own for both locations to enhance my medical practice. For example, I now have OCTs, ERGs and a second exam lane in both offices.
Primed for Growth
Both offices have grown substantially, which allowed me to bring in other optometrists as I increased the number of doctor days. My passion since moving to the arid western U.S. is dry eye treatment. Age, as well as many health conditions, contribute to dry eye disease. Many patients have seen several doctors trying to find relief.
I am so excited to be the only practice in Mesquite, Nev., that offers low level light therapy and intense pulse light therapy (IPL). These treatments reduce inflammation, alleviate abnormal blood vessels and improve meibomian gland function. IPL also has a cosmetic effect. It provides reduced redness and skin rejuvenation.
When Overhead Costs Are Low, You Can Invest More to Develop New Services
Working with Walmart allows me to keep my overhead costs low and provides an instant patient base, including walk-ins, for my practice. I have a great Health and Wellness Director, Sean Rammell, who supports the medical model, so I can provide patients the highest quality of medical care.
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Setting the Stage for Greater Professional Growth & Profitability
Practicing the medical model requires the doctor to learn additional coding and billing.
I like to take classes and continue to learn, so I took medical billing classes through AAPC in Salt Lake City. I am a certified professional coder (CPC), a certified instructor (CPC-I) and a certified ophthalmic coder (COPC). This has helped me file my own medical claims and mentor associate ODs. Also, the required CE for these certifications keeps me updated on ICD-10 and CPT changes.
Ideal Setting for Medical Eyecare
Optometry has evolved over my career. I hope more doctors will consider practicing the medical model. I want optometrists to know that this can be done successfully in a corporate setting.
Renee Reinholdt, OD, is the owner of two independent practices, located adjacent to Walmart stores in Richfield, Utah, and Mesquite, Nev. To contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org