Ophthalmologists should be ready for 'big squeeze'
John B. Pinto
WAILEA, Hawaii — With decades of economic growth and consumer confidence coming to a close in the United States, ophthalmologists need to be prepared for an upcoming "big squeeze," a speaker said here.
Ophthalmic practices will first have to make it through the likely threats in coming years of double-digit Medicare cuts and utilization strictures from the government, OSN Practice Management Section Editor John B. Pinto said at Hawaiian Eye 2012. Then practices probably will have to face profit margins dipping from 40% down to about 25%; surgeon incomes falling by $50,000 or more; and the need to increase patients seen by about 20% to maintain profitability, he explained.
"But all is not lost," Mr. Pinto said, noting the increasing demand for eye care. "Ophthalmology has a high benefit-to-cost ratio that's not only known by you as a provider, but by the patients themselves."
That ratio, which suggests consumers will choose to make eye care a priority even in tougher times, can be combined with a number of passive income opportunities to maintain a positive fiscal outlook, he said.
These opportunities include dispensing, ASCs, labor substitution, automation and optometric providers.
In addition, practices can work to reduce expenses by taking steps such as contacting their facility landlords about getting the best deal they can.
"You are now between a rock and a hard place," Mr. Pinto said about the overall situation.
- Disclosure: Mr. Pinto has no relevant financial disclosures.