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The Technology Suite that Helped Me Jump-Start a Fast-Growing Practice Right Out of OD School
By Susan Ly Johnson, OD, MPH, FAAO
Your dream career as a practice owner can start shortly after optometry school if you have the right plan in place, including the technologies to help your new practice take off. I was fortunate to have a suite of Topcon Healthcare technologies to bolster my newly purchased practice, which blossomed into two locations in less than five years.
Gearing Up for a Career that Starts with Your Own Practice
Prior to starting optometry school, I shadowed the owner of a well-known optometry practice in Hollywood, CA. The owner of this private practice was inspirational to me and made a huge impact on the career path I chose. She could set her own schedule, spend time with her family and do charity work, all the while working in and promoting her business. I saw the difference in flexibility between being an employed doctor and a practice owner. I realized that my personality is much more suited to being the "boss lady" and determined to open my own practice as soon as I could.
When I was in my fourth year of optometry school in 2016, I reached out to private practice owners who had listed their practices for sale to see if they were a good fit. My mentor from the optometry school's private practice club helped me look through contracts and explained how to analyze the financials. During my residency in 2017, I finally found the right fit. I finalized the deal and began outfitting my office with everything, including technology, that I would need to provide great care and grow my business.
Finding the Best Technology to Prime Your Practice for Success
After researching a number of brands, I chose Topcon equipment because the product quality was outstanding and the instruments would work reliably for years to come. In fact, the practice I bought had a 15-year-old Topcon autorefractor that still worked perfectly.
For the first office we opened, I purchased a Topcon Maestro OCT and the KR-1 Auto Refractor. When it was time to open my second location two years later, Topcon was one of the first vendors I called.
Our doctors are excited about having this technology because they can easily show the patient their results in seconds on any digital device thanks to the cloud-based IMAGEnet software. This helps our patients to understand their diagnosis, and thus be more compliant with treatment. As a practice owner, I appreciate that Topcon products help differentiate our practice while keeping our workflow running smoothly.
Technology That Allows Us to Deliver Vision-Saving Care
My Topcon technology has helped me diagnose and manage many patients with eye diseases and conditions that could result in loss of vision, including:
- Glaucoma: I track progression of the optic nerve with the OCT RNFL scan and optic nerve photos.
- Patients on Plaquenil: I check for Plaquenil toxicity with the OCT Macula scan and fundus photos.
- Corneal disease: The radial anterior segment OCT scan gives me 12 clock hours of corneal slices to examine.
- Ptosis patients: I am able to take external photos that help me pinpoint potential problems.
- Peripheral retinal changes: I take peripheral photos with the "auto-mosaic function" and piece the 9-photos together. It’s an easy photograph to capture and is very comfortable for the patient.
Creating a Wellness Exam That’s Good for Patients & the Practice
We implemented an OCT "Wellness Exam'' into our check-in process with the Topcon Maestro. Our front desk staff is trained and incentivized ($1 per acceptance) to explain why the doctor recommends this additional testing. To streamline the patient visit, the technicians include the wellness scan in the pre-testing process, which adds two to three minutes to the workup time.
The wellness program has shown our patients that we are committed to eye health, while also generating a new stream of revenue. Last month, in just one of our offices, we brought in an additional $3,500 in wellness screening revenue.
Technology that Eases Staffing Stress
Like all practice owners, I’ve struggled with staff turnover the past couple of years. In fact, I’ve had employees walk out halfway during their shift or simply stop showing up without notice. This new norm has made me incredibly glad that our Topcon equipment has touchscreen controls and intelligent automation, which makes it easy to learn and use.
Brand Your Practice as Best Equipped In Your Area to Provide Care
I feel that my Topcon equipment has helped me to brand my practice as a state-of-the-art eye care provider. My patients are impressed that we offer screening technologies that other offices do not and often remark that our 3D technology is above and beyond anything they’ve ever been offered before.
Patients know when they are in an office with technology that is capable of giving them the best of care, and Topcon has been our partner in creating that experience for our patients.
Susan Ly Johnson, OD, MPH, FAAO, is the owner of Boerne Vision Center, PA, which has two locations in Boerne, Texas. To contact her, email email@example.com
*Article originally appeared in Review of Optometric Business