Coronavirus BRIEFING

Drawing on Deep Resources, Vision Source Helps Its Doctors Cope With Crisis


KINGWOOD, TEXAS—Vision Source, the nation’s largest network of independent optometrists, is facing an imposing task: keeping its 4,500-plus members—many of whom have shut down their practice or are operating with reduced office hours—informed and prepared to handle the daily trials and uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Vision Source executives said they are unable to confirm the total number of practices affected by the crisis, they report that many of its 3,200 private practice owners are significantly challenged.

To support these members, Vision Source’s experienced management team has assembled an array of resources to provide practice management tools, business advice and clinical knowledge to help members cope with not only the immediate situation but also succeed when they emerge from the crisis. A key ingredient is the Vision Source Administrators, a team of 180 Vision Source members who are responsible for supporting local members in their areas. These private practice owners have the first-hand knowledge of how their specific areas are being impacted along with a commitment to helping members through the crisis.

“Because of our infrastructure, we’ve always been able to use the knowledge of the Administrators,” explained Amir Khoshnevis, OD, Vision Source’s chief medical officer. “They’re involved in the daily practices of those members. They’re holding meetings and communicating regularly with them. They gather information from their members and bring it to us so that we can react as an organization.

Amir Khoshnevis, OD
“The minute the crisis started, our Administrators assessed the situation and became our central touchpoint in their region, telling us what our members were asking for. The team at the Member Support Center at our headquarters was actively gathering that information and sharing it, allowing the leadership team to act swiftly to produce the resources that are necessary and relevant to those members.”

Vision Source is also helping members navigate the crisis through a COVID-19 resource center on its website which includes job aids, articles, webinars and information exchanges. Members can access Patient Care Protocols for practices providing essential eyecare services, support for managing staff and human resource complexities and variations across all 50 states and third-party financial resources including up-to-date information about government aid programs.

“The information exchange has been extremely powerful,” said Dr. Khoshnevis. “I feel we are providing our members with the right resources at this time based on their engagement. That is evident by the fact that every webinar we have hosted has been attended by over 1,000 members.”

One of the topics that has generated the most interest during the webinars is telehealth, an area of practice that is increasingly important to Vision Source members now that many practices have suspended in-office patient visits. “When we first started to look into telehealth about 24 months ago, we had some sense of it being a viable option down the road for us, especially in a rural practice,” said Dr. Khoshnevis.

“But this situation really changed the dynamic,” he said. “Now we’re talking about acute care, remote patient telehealth. I think telehealth use will spike during the crisis, and we’ve given our members all the resources they need to implement it.”

He noted that Vision Source has explored telehealth systems such as, and currently has a vendor relationship with Eyecare Live, which uses a HIPAA-compliant app to link doctors with patients.

In addition to connecting members with needed resources and providing them with pertinent information, Vision Source is also providing business management resources to help members manage their cash flow challenges. To ease the financial pressure on practices, Vision Source is deferring royalty payments and leveraging relationships with key vendors for flexible payment terms, including its parent company, Essilor.

“We are extremely optimistic our member practices will get through this and flourish again,” said Dr. Khoshnevis. “It will not be without challenges and we don’t know exactly how long the recovery period will last. But we are certain Vision Source members and private practice optometry has a very bright future ahead. We are committed to helping make that happen as quickly as possible.”