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    6 challenges when changing from a group to private practice


    Generating patients

    Patients suffering from dry eye disease are seekers, seeking a better treatment for improved quality of life and improved ocular comfort. Having a website and a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter is great resources for these seekers.

    The Dry Eye Center of PA’s website features our blog that is updated regularly as well as links to the website on both of the other practice’s websites (Wheatlyn Eye Care and Mechanicsburg Eye Associates).

    Facebook has been a great way to engage our current patients. We are able to educate them about upcoming events such as patient seminars, introduce them to new treatments, alert them to media appearances, and keep them updated and actively engaged with our dry eye research.

    If you build it, they will come. In our first year, we have generated patients from a three- to four-hour radius.

    The support from the OD/MD community has been overwhelmingly positive. With the surge of new treatments and the cost of dry eye equipment, it is a challenge to have all of the latest in diagnostics and treatments needed to keep up with the medical model.  

    The Dry Eye Center of PA is happy to provide the technology to our surrounding colleagues. We’ve received referrals from ODs and MDs and are grateful for their support and trust. 

    Related: 6 steps to open a practice

    Promoting the center

    Our first year has been amazing with many unpaid opportunities for promoting our center and raising awareness about dry eye disease. 

    My very first patient, and long-time dry eye sufferer, was interviewed for a national magazine, First for Women, in a great article that was published in February 2016 and generated calls from as far away as Alaska.

    Another patient was featured as part of an online awareness forum Turning Points.

    Dry eye is a great topic for local news. We have had the opportunity to be part of our local morning news program multiple times over the course the year. This generates a lot of local exposure and an influx of phone calls. These news videos have provided great educational content for our social media pages and website.

    We do have a marketing budget as well, spending most of our money on billboards and paid appearances on a lunchtime news program—“Good Day PA.” The advantage of a paid appearance is promotion of the practice during the segment with our name and contact information displayed. These help us generate patients over the next two to five years.

    Related: The benefits of cleaning out your practice

    Tools of the trade

    Bringing a specialty focus to the practice doesn’t come cheap with the increasing cost of diagnostic and treatment equipment. It seems that most of what is needed for a dry eye practice to thrive is priced based on volume purchased.

    From point-of-care testing, to lid cleansers for retail, to supplements that help reduce the inflammatory load on the ocular surface, it’s hard for a new center to maximize these savings as the practice is in its infancy. 

    It is important to offer the latest treatments for your patients, especially when you are specialized. It was only a few months after our launch that we acquired the LipiFlow (TearScience) thermal pulsation unit and now have introduced both LipiView and LipiScan (TearScience) for meibography and screening of our patients at our two locations. 

    Leslie E O’Dell, OD, FAAO
    Leslie E. O’Dell, OD, FAAO, is the director of Dry Eye Center of PA and Wheatlyn Eye Care in Manchester, PA. Dr. O’Dell lectures ...


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