Perspective

Nautic Partners forms independent alliance to support ECPs

Nautic Partners LLC has created Healthy Eyes Advantage, an alliance to provide purchasing services and management support to more than 10,000 independent U.S. eye care professionals.

Healthy Eyes announced in a press release that it has acquired substantially all the assets of Block Buying Group, C&E Vision Services, Vision West and HMI, including Red Tray and Club Zero.

The newly formed Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA) alliance will offer access, purchasing services, education and networking to independent optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians, according to the release.

Jeff Rinkus, CEO of HEA, said in the release that the company is able to partner with leading industry suppliers to develop innovative purchasing programs that will further reduce members’ largest expense, the cost of goods. HEA is building a peer network of independent practitioners to help with marketing, managed care, staffing, accounting and other practice management challenges.

In addition to Rinkus, who is the former chief operating officer of ABB Optical, the HEA team includes: Andrew Alcorn, former CEO of Block Vision and chair of Superior Vision, and Joe Mallinger, OD, former CEO of Vision West, past president of the California Optometric Association and president-elect of Optometry Cares, the American Optometric Association’s charitable foundation.

Michael Block, founder and CEO of BBG, and Brad Shapiro, principal of C&E and Vision West, have joined the board and are serving as senior advisors.

The company is based in Boca Raton, Fla., with offices in San Clemente, Calif.; San Diego; and Vicksburg, Miss.

Nautic Partners LLC has created Healthy Eyes Advantage, an alliance to provide purchasing services and management support to more than 10,000 independent U.S. eye care professionals.

Healthy Eyes announced in a press release that it has acquired substantially all the assets of Block Buying Group, C&E Vision Services, Vision West and HMI, including Red Tray and Club Zero.

The newly formed Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA) alliance will offer access, purchasing services, education and networking to independent optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians, according to the release.

Jeff Rinkus, CEO of HEA, said in the release that the company is able to partner with leading industry suppliers to develop innovative purchasing programs that will further reduce members’ largest expense, the cost of goods. HEA is building a peer network of independent practitioners to help with marketing, managed care, staffing, accounting and other practice management challenges.

In addition to Rinkus, who is the former chief operating officer of ABB Optical, the HEA team includes: Andrew Alcorn, former CEO of Block Vision and chair of Superior Vision, and Joe Mallinger, OD, former CEO of Vision West, past president of the California Optometric Association and president-elect of Optometry Cares, the American Optometric Association’s charitable foundation.

Michael Block, founder and CEO of BBG, and Brad Shapiro, principal of C&E and Vision West, have joined the board and are serving as senior advisors.

The company is based in Boca Raton, Fla., with offices in San Clemente, Calif.; San Diego; and Vicksburg, Miss.

    Perspective
    Agustin Gonzalez, OD, FAAO

    Agustin L. Gonzalez

    These groups have two main purposes – lowering cost of goods through bulk purchasing and facilitating optical sales by supporting this practice model – which, in turn, provides the opportunity to improve profit margins. One thing, then, becomes obvious and it is that vendors favored by the buying group will be much more represented in the offices aligned with that group. As such, the member gets the best price and profit margin. Often the groups are top-down managed, seeking uniformity in office models.

    Another advantage of a buying group that is less tangible but much more important is that it can become a platform of support, networking offices and, thus, bringing a more “optical business” perspective. Many of their meetings focus on group discussions and problem-solving. Often, the conversation is about hiring and staff or selling more products in the optical.

    This focus on products results in offices attempting to deliver optical goods and patient experiences in a similar manner, which is not much different than structured retail operations that standardize products across multiple stores and service experiences to maximize profits.

    Where these groups often fall short is maximizing "in-chair" profits – in other words, integrating nontraditional services that have become an adoption hurdle to many optically driven offices who must face modern practice challenges such as low reimbursements, increased competition based on low price points, Internet retailers and gaps in adoption of medical services.

    Strategies could include things like integrating technology that could provide support services outside of the traditional optical model; incorporating and facilitating the implementation of the medical model by supporting medical billing, insurance and patient collections; developing eye health-centered services as alternate sources of profits; and facilitating engagement with other professionals.

    • Agustin L. Gonzalez, OD, FAAO
    • PCON Editorial Board Member

    Disclosures: Gonzalez reports he is a former IDOC network administrator for North Texas.