As you familiarize yourself with referring sources, you will find that all practices are not created equal. To build a successful network, it is important to customize your relationship with each optometrist who refers patients to your practice.
To keep track of the specifics of each practice, strongly consider establishing an organized process from the start. Our practice created a detailed spreadsheet of all our comanagement partners and their respective scope of practice.
Optometry practices can range from corporate practices in retail chains that focus on glasses and soft contact lenses alone to private practitioners who embrace both the medical and refractive sides of eye care and are comfortable managing pathology and providing perioperative medical care. I’ve learned that therapeutic contact fitting for irregular astigmatism and corneal ectasia patients are only performed by certain ODs who specialize in such fittings.
In our spreadsheet, we note which optometrists prefer to manage medical care, as well as the types of devices they have (eg, OCT, visual field testing, corneal topography).
In addition, we ask them how they would like us to manage their patients. For instance, an optometrist may refer a patient only for a second opinion and request that the patient return if his or her condition is stable. In contrast, another practice may want the ophthalmology practice to manage a medical condition such as glaucoma or handle the full global period for cataract surgery and just return the patient for vision services.
We also track preferred methods of communication, which can range from secure text or email to phone call or fax, and contact information for the doctor and administrator or biller.
When you begin to work with an optometrist, I recommend meeting one-on-one with the practice administrator. An extra level of communication is necessary to identify, organize and be able to access these important details and preferences, which are essential to creating a successful network.
Disclosure: Yeu reports she is a consultant/adviser for Alcon, Allergan, ArcScan, Bausch + Lomb/Valeant, Bio-Tissue, BVI, i-Optics, J&J Vision, Lensar, Kala Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Ocular Science, Ocular Therapeutix, Ocusoft, Omeros, Science Based Health, Shire, SightLife Surgical, Sun, TearLab, TearScience, Veracity and Zeiss; does research for Alcon, Allergan, Bausch + Lomb, Bio-Tissue, i-Optics, Kala and Topcon; and has an ownership interest in ArcScan, Modernizing Medicine, Ocular Science, SightLife Surgical and Strathspey Crown.
Elizabeth Yeu, MD, is assistant professor, Eastern Virginia Medical School, and partner, Virginia Eye Consultants, Norfolk, Virginia.