The Inside View
JAMIE HUGHES is an expert on the ins and outs of optometric alliances, with eight years under his belt at PECAA, which was launched in 2006. Here he shares his thoughts about everything from the PECAA legacy and new initiatives to ECPs’ challenges and opportunities moving forward.
Q HOW HAS PECAA EVOLVED SINCE 2006?
A. PECAA is proud of the legacy created by its founding doctors who would meet every few months to share best practices, discuss operational challenges, and ultimately work together to grow and improve their businesses. Even years later, PECAA remains true to those founding characteristics—we work hard every day to help members connect, learn from each other, and lead successful practices.
The biggest change is our scale. Today, we are a nationwide community of more than 3,800 doctors.
Q WHY IS BELONGING TO AN ALLIANCE BENEFICIAL?
A. Today, you see an industry that is heavily influenced by a small group of very large corporations. The potential of independent eyecare providers is found in their numbers, but their true power is realized through coordinating and aligning their actions.
Eye doctors working together as part of a strong alliance like PECAA can wield massive influence within the industry we navigate, and that will lead to best outcomes for O.D.s. We believe that a thriving independent optometric profession drives better patient care and customer experiences.
Q WHAT IS PECAA’S PRIMARY FOCUS TODAY?
A. Connect. Build. Prosper. Our focus is to drive connection with like-minded ECPs, to deliver practice management education and consultation to build better businesses, and to bring prosperity to members by leveraging our size to create industry-leading cost savings and rebates.
Q WHAT ARE YOUR LATEST INITIATIVES + SERVICES?
A. We will build on several new services that were launched in 2019, including:
■ Integrated Eye Care Initiative: Helping members understand how and when to transition from fee-for-service to outcome-based care to negotiate for higher reimbursements, drive referral relationships, and become a critical part of emerging patient care teams.
■ PECAAHP, our Association Health Plan: Leveraging PECAA’s group buying power to access a healthcare solution at competitive rates through a private, non-profit, level-funded benefits plan so members can attract and retain the best employees.
■ 90 Days to Dry Eye: A comprehensive learning experience that walks participants through the process of building a dry eye specialty practice in just 90 days.
We are also enhancing our free business-building Optical workshops, including our new Billing & Coding workshops. In total, PECAA will host 26 workshops around the country this year.
Q HOW CAN ECPS THRIVE GOING FORWARD?
A. Market conditions will continue to ask doctors to “do more for less,” so it is important to become more efficient and effective at operating a practice. But there is more to just driving efficiency—there is an ocean of opportunity for independent eyecare providers to expand the ways they serve patients and not be beholden to the traditional business model of vision exams, eyeglasses, and contact lenses.
—Stephanie K. De Long
GOOD TO KNOW
“It’s refreshing to see so many new practices entering the market—proof that the profession is thriving.”