By Benjamin S. Chudner, OD, FAAO,
Chief Medical Officer, AEG Vision
Dec. 1, 2021
When thinking of selling your practice, there are many decision points to consider. If you plan to continue practicing, you want to know that your new partner shares your vision for how you can best serve patients. Many ODs feel that growth and enhancement of medical eyecare services is the way to do that.
Making sure your new partner not only wants to expand medical eyecare services, but also has made the necessary investments in infrastructure to achieve that goal, should be evaluated prior to selling if that’s what you are looking for. To evaluate this, you have to talk to the eyecare team and other doctors who have already joined the network.
As Chief Medical Officer of AEG Vision, I have seen the difference it makes to sellers working with a group, like ourselves, who becomes a thought partner in the growth of medical eyecare. Said another way, if you don’t share a common vision leading into the partnership, chances are there will be friction after the ownership transition.
Maintain Ability to Practice Medical Eyecare As You Choose
Our model is unique compared to other PE-backed buyers. Some will purchase a practice and rebrand it under a national brand or a large regional brand with a field organization for support, and others will keep the practice brand intact, but provide little field support.
Unless required, we keep the practice brand intact while affiliating it with a larger regional brand to leverage marketing spend and provide support with a strong field organization. This allows us combine the best of our partner’s practice with the best of AEG to elevate outcomes for everyone – doctors, staff and patients. The practice continues to feel private to the doctor even though it is part of a larger network that benefits from our common platform.
Choose a Partner With Strong Medical Eyecare Practices Already Under Its Wing
All of our doctors practice full-scope optometry, but we also have some of the largest medically necessary contact lens practices and some of the largest vision therapy practices in the country. In addition, our doctors are managing dry eye, and we are beginning to bring practices onboard with some of the largest and most respected myopia management clinics in the world.
Strengthen Your Referral Network
One of the biggest challenges to building a specialty clinic like vision therapy or dry eye is developing referral relationships with neighboring optometrists. As we continue to build density in each of our markets, we are building a network of private practices that subscribe to a culture that supports the referrals for these services.
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We also have access to the capital needed to ensure our practices have the latest equipment to allow our doctors to appropriately diagnose and manage these patients. For example, we have upgraded offices from OCT to OCT-A and brought in instruments for treating dry eye, such as LipiFlow and TearCare.
Focusing on Continued Medical Eyecare Enhancement & Growth
As strong as our practices’ medical eyecare is, we are committed to helping them go even further. Not only do we have the ability to purchase new devices for dry eye, medically necessary contact lenses and myopia management, but we have added several doctors who have developed successful protocols to provide those services.
Using their knowledge, we are developing a team that will be responsible for adding these services to the practices we acquire whenever appropriate. We see the sharing of knowledge as a key advantage to being a part of AEG. We have internal message boards where doctors can share best practices, ask advice on patient care, and provide support to each other. In the next few months, we will have a team dedicated to the education of our doctors to allow them the opportunity to offer additional medical services.
We want the patients our practices serve, and the doctors who become a part of our company, to have every advantage in access to ever more advanced medical eyecare technology and services.