What’s Next for ECP Alliances and Buying Groups?

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NEW YORK—Optical retail and vision care, like every other business today, are facing changes that are coming at a faster pace than ever, whether it’s more complex health care delivery models, new technology for eye tests and online purchasing and even outside investors with deep pockets. Everyone and every business is adjusting and rethinking their business models as they seek ways to more effectively deliver the services clients are seeking.

This holds true in independent eyecare, as well, where some buying groups and alliances—from the old guard to the new kids on the block—are fine-tuning their menu of services to be more supportive of the independent OD. This might include adding more networking events, negotiating for larger rebates or discounts, simplifying the payment process or providing dashboard software that details and benchmarks the financial operations of a practice. These alliances also want to retain their role as the key partner to independent ODs, many of whom are considering opportunities to partner or sell to outside investor groups.

“Given the ongoing industry consolidation, the role of optical alliances is more important than ever,” Opti-Port president and chief executive officer Jim Edwards told Vision Monday.

David Golden, OD, a co-founder of PERC, said he sees his role as one in which he “champions the independent” and to be in position to provide this ECP/OD all of the tools necessary to practice profitably while maintaining autonomy.

Looking ahead, Vision Source president and chief executive Jim Greenwood said he believes independent optometry has a secure future, in part because of the important health services these ECPs deliver on a daily basis. “We still 100 percent believe that the person most qualified to make an optometry practice successful is an independent doctor, or independent doctors within that practice who have ownership of the practice and are 100 percent engaged in providing patient care and building value within that practice,” he said.

Partnership is just one of the roles that alliances and buying groups see themselves playing in today’s market as they, like every other business, evolve to support growth and profitability. Over the next few pages, VM’s editorial team presents a top-line review of alliance and buying groups’ programs and philosophies for dealing with the wave of changes today’s independent ODs are facing.

See what independent ODs are saying about alliances and buying groups in the stories below.

ADO Practice Solutions: Providing a Foundation for Success

Healthy Eyes Advantage: The New Kid on the Block

Independent Doctors of Optometric Care (IDOC): Giving Independents a Competitive Advantage
OD Excellence: Driving Patients to Practices

Opti-Port: An Alliance of Multi-Office Independent Practices

Professional Eye Care Associates of America (PECAA): Always Evolving to Best Help Members

Professional Eyecare Resource Cooperative (PERC): Adding New Members at a Rapid Pace

Primary EyeCare Network (PEN): Increasing Scale With Recent Additions

Villavecchia Buying Group: Family Owned and Operated for Almost 40 Years

Vision Source: Member Practices Outpacing Industry Growth