The honorees for the 2019 Best Practices program were announced in a special Facebook Live session from Vision Expo East on March 25th.
Now in its fourth year, CooperVision’s Best Practices program recognizes and celebrates practices in the U.S. that go above and beyond to find ways to differentiate themselves and deliver extraordinary care to their patients, even in the face of increasing competition.
“Best Practices is one of the many ways CooperVision partners with eye care professionals,” said Michele Andrews, OD, Senior Director of Professional and Academic Affairs, North America, CooperVision. “Year after year, we continue to be captivated by so many optometry practices. From what motivated the honorees to open their doors to the patient lives they have since impacted, from the challenges they have faced to the risks they have taken to overcome them—it is endlessly rewarding to hear their stories, and partner with these practices to share them more broadly. It is our hope that their varied experiences can help inspire other eye care professionals to perhaps try a new approach, implement meaningful changes, and find even greater success in their own practices. Congratulations to our 2019 Best Practices honorees.”
Honorees come from practices large and small, newer and well-established. This year’s honorees are:
- Azman Eye Care Specialists / Global Complex Eye Care – Timonium, Md.
“Every team member is a key player to the thriving success of the practice.” It is a motto that the team at Azman Eye Care Specialists / Global Complex Eye Care takes very seriously. In 1975, this family-owned private practice began providing personalized, high-quality eye care services and meticulously searched for the best employees in order to deliver an unmatched patient experience. To help, the practice’s doctors—Irwin Azman, OD, Benjamin Azman, OD, and Thomas Azman, OD—ensure the staff participates in continuing education seminars and are exposed to the latest, cutting-edge technology. In the past year alone, the practice established the Keratoconus Institute of Maryland (KIM) with a corneal specialist and have incorporated the gold standard instruments in diagnosis. That gold standard also applies to the service provided, which includes free screenings for keratoconus and the most advanced treatments and approaches to management. Overall, patients benefit from a “less is more” approach: the practice limits the number of patients per practitioner, allowing for more time spent with each one. It’s a concierge concept—one that has allowed the team to provide an exceptional experience for every patient for the past four decades.
- Briggs Vision Group – Dunwoody, Ga.
Practice owners J. Judson Briggs, OD, and Erick H. Smith, OD, firmly believe that vision is one of the most precious gifts bestowed upon humanity. That’s why, in 1984, they opened Briggs Vision Group with the mission of providing superior eye care through innovative technology, a passion for excellence, and unmatched quality and service. Since then, the practice has grown to include six doctors at two locations—the main office having recently undergone an expansion to 5,000 square feet—all while staying true to its original mission. The team takes the patient experience seriously, knowing a great interaction begins as soon as someone walks through the door. From there, the practice delivers a warm and comforting atmosphere: fresh flowers and snacks in the waiting room, weekly deliveries of the latest newspapers and magazines, and most importantly, doctors who provide comprehensive examinations without rush or interruption. In the event of unexpected rain showers, the team at Briggs Vision Group is even known to walk patients out to their cars with oversized umbrellas in tow. But what this practice offers extends well beyond kind gestures. Clinically, it provides complete eye care, including therapeutic diagnosis and management of glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, ocular infections, inflammatory eye disease, dry eyes, and cataracts, among many other conditions. Briggs Vision Group has even formed a reputation as the go-to practice for specialty contact lenses, and offers the most technologically advanced lenses. With an in-house optical laboratory, the practice is able to provide patients with the best quality, value, and satisfaction. Between providing superior eye care and outstanding customer service, the staff still finds time to stay involved with various professional groups and organizations to ensure continued success for optometry as a whole while sharing insights with the industry’s future leaders.
- Drs. Quinn, Foster & Associates – Athens, Ohio
According to Drs. Quinn, Foster & Associates, there are several factors to creating an exceptional patient experience—and it starts with its staff. Since 1983, the Ohio-based practice, led by Thomas Quinn, OD, MS, FAAO; Susan Quinn, OD, FAAO; and Shane Foster, OD, has focused on building a collaborative atmosphere by including the full staff on all practice-related decisions. This approach has proven to be a motivational tool that benefits the doctors and patients alike. Another piece is education. By incentivizing its staff to further their education—through courses and conferences, among other opportunities—the team is positioned to hone their craft and become experts in the field. From there, the practice turns its attention to technology. The doctors embrace the latest contact lens designs, and discuss the benefits of daily disposable contact lenses with their patients, resulting in nearly 70 percent of their contact lens patients wearing daily disposables. Through this unique combination of motivated staff, ongoing education, and advanced technology, the practice is able to deliver a superior level of care, treating each patient as if they were a friendly neighbor—which they are, given the small-town vibe of Athens, Ohio. The neighborly relationship it has built within the community extends beyond patient care, as the staff volunteers within local schools, for civic organizations, and on non-profit boards.
- Lakeline Vision Source – Cedar Park, Texas
Music is an important part of life in Cedar Park, Texas, and the team at Lakeline Vision Source has made a point of embracing the city’s eclectic sounds. As patients move about the office—from the relaxing lounge to the clinical “spa” and into the retail center—they receive doses of ambient music, along with Motown and Austin Blues. It all plays into the practice’s mission to “wow” patients. This “wow” factor isn’t limited to music, of course. Patients benefit from state-of-the-art equipment, including devices still in beta testing, all of which position Lakeline Vision Source as a leader in optometry. That’s not to mention the expertise of the practice’s seven doctors, all of whom are members of the Texas Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association. It’s the balance between these three qualities—the atmosphere, the technology, and the expertise—that Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO, has worked hard to maintain since she opened the practice in 1995. She’s even made a point of sharing her approach whenever possible, whether through her position as a board member of Optometry Giving Sight or with the practice’s interns from the University of Houston.
- Northeast Ohio Eye Surgeons – Kent, Stow, and Akron, Ohio
For more than 35 years, Northeast Ohio Eye Surgeons has been committed to improving its patients’ eyesight by providing the best medical and surgical care possible in a comforting environment. According to practice owners Lawrence Lohman, MD, Marc Jones, MD, and Matthew Willett, MD, “patients first” is one of the practice’s core competencies, but in order to properly serve the patient, the doctors believe they must instill passion within the culture. That’s why each month, the full team meets for a half-day team-building session. While the topics discussed tend to vary, the end result always leads to improved patient experiences. Northeast Ohio Eye Surgeons even contributes to a more informed industry, as its doctors regularly attend and present at local, state, and national meetings, including the American Academy of Optometry. The doctors have a “we’re all in this together” mentality about ophthalmology and optometry and look to offer their help and insights whenever possible, to patients and professionals alike. It’s an inspiring frame of mind, and the staff rises to the occasion. Each quarter, the practice donates its time at the Akron Food Bank and has even hosted a free eye exam day in conjunction with the LeBron James Family Foundation for the children and families of James’s I Promise School.
- Shoreline Optometry – Mountain View, Calif.
For the owners of Shoreline Optometry, it’s more than an eye care practice—it’s literally a family. Ron Seger, OD, FAAO, and his daughter, Jenifer Webb, OD, have been partners in practice since 2008. The family ties go back even further; after graduating from optometry school in 1974, Dr. Seger was in practice with his father and brother in San Luis Obispo. Then, after working in contact lens design, contact lens solution, and ophthalmic solution research and development for 13 years, he established Shoreline Optometry in 1989. Dr. Seger’s father, Charles Seger, OD, always said “Take care of the patients, and the patients will take care of you”—an adage that Dr. Seger and Dr. Webb keep in their hearts and minds as they run their practice. The “family” feeling extends to patients, too; the doctors and staff at Shoreline Optometry strive to make every one of them feel like they are the most important patient in the office. They take the time to learn patients’ individual eye care concerns and needs, then tailor treatment plans to address them. The doctors routinely evaluate new technology and products introduced to the marketplace to determine the potential benefits to their patients and practice. The practice was early to adopt daily disposable contact lenses and continues to recommend this modality to the majority of their patients today. Dr. Seger is the current President of the California Optometric Association, in which Dr. Webb is also active. In addition, the doctors are involved in local and national optometric organizations and are dedicated to the advancement of the profession. After all, optometry is in their blood. Charles Seger’s passion for eye care lives on not only in Dr. Seger and Dr. Webb, but in another son, another granddaughter, and a great-nephew—all of whom have also chosen to practice optometry.
- Spring Hill Eyecare – Spring Hill, Tenn.
Spring Hill Eyecare operates under two key mottos: “What’s good for the patient is good for the practice,” and “See everything we do from the patient’s point of view.” In other words, the patient is always the focal point—and has been since Rob Szeliga, OD, opened the practice in 2005. The practice’s first three employees were Rob’s mother and two sisters, who helped instill a friendly, familial atmosphere. This culture has remained intact, even as the practice expanded into its brand new, 8,300-square-foot facility. It’s now a state-of-the-art operation, complete with a 900-square-foot sports vision and vision therapy suite, a contact lens suite for quick progress exams, and a new dry eye suite with LipiScan and LipiFlow. It’s a lot to manage, but the team at Spring Hill EyeCare is passionate about practice management—so passionate, in fact, that they developed an independent study group for private practice optometrists called O.D. Think Tank. Eye care professionals from many states have joined the group, highlighting its potential. Although its reach is wide, the practice keeps its primary focus on the local community. Each Thanksgiving, Spring Hill EyeCare spearheads an interactive campaign to purchase turkeys for families in need. When a patient or partner donates money, the staff even gobbles! The team also collected 611 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls around All Souls’ Day and collected 1,575 toiletry items last summer to benefit a mobile shower truck for the homeless.
- Vancouver Vision Clinic – Vancouver, Wash.
Raj Patel, OD, and Derek McTyier, OD, believe a positive attitude can brighten up someone’s day. And at Vancouver Vision Clinic, they are determined to be the best part of their patients’ day by providing an uplifting atmosphere and building genuine relationships with them. It may sound simple, but it has worked for the practice since 1952. Currently, Vancouver Vision Clinic has six doctors on board, one of whom specializes in scleral lenses and another who holds both Doctor of Optometry and Master of Education degrees, giving her a unique background to provide pediatric care and vision therapy. But what makes the practice truly special is the team and its longevity. While many aspects of the practice have certainly evolved over the past 60 years, several staff members have been part of the team for nearly two decades. This is all testament to its patient-oriented, community-building culture. When not providing patients with the best quality eye care, the team stays engaged in state associations and legislative efforts on a grassroots level, gives and attends optometry lectures, and fosters charitable partnerships, most notably with the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington.
- Vision Source of Farr West – Farr West, Utah
Established in 2004, Vision Source of Farr West has made a point of refining its processes to accommodate the evolving needs of patients. The Utah-based practice delivers an exceptional patient experience by following the “golden rule”—treating everyone the way they wish to be treated in return. In addition to their personal approach, Ian Whipple, OD—who purchased the practice in 2013—regularly meets with industry leaders and representatives to stay up-to-date on the latest technological advancements for the benefit of his patients. By embracing technology such as the Optomap wide-field imaging system, the staff has been able to detect diabetes, macular degeneration, brain tumors, retinal detachments, and in one life-saving case, a stroke that was occurring right in the office. While the lessons learned through experience are invaluable for the staff, education is not limited to the office; the team at Vision Source of Farr West is encouraged and enabled to participate in substantial professional development, and both doctors complete three times the required amount of continuing education credits each year. The entire staff attends the annual Utah Optometric Association meeting, and they share ideas and success stories with other practices whenever possible. Dr. Whipple has also made a point of connecting the practice to the community, including providing free eye examinations to low-income students in downtown Ogden.
- West Shore Eye Care – Ludington, Mich.
Founded in 1991 by Jennifer Branning, OD, West Shore Eye Care has become a leading provider of comprehensive, personalized medical eye care for all lifestyles. Over the years, Dr. Branning and her team have stressed the importance of customer service, treating everyone who walks through the door as if they were guests in their homes. As such, patients enjoy every convenience: the option to borrow potential frames to take home for input from their families; trials of daily disposable contact lenses for those who have never tried them; reduced paperwork; refreshments—the list goes on and on. As the only dry eye center in a 140-mile radius, West Shore Eye Care is early to adopt the latest dry eye treatments and tools, including amniotic membranes, True Tear, InflammaDry, Tear Lab, and serum tears. The practice has even partnered with a surgeon in Traverse City, Mich., to make amniografts for conjunctival chalasis available to its patients. The practice’s commitment to its community extends beyond eye care; each year, West Shore Eye Care sponsors an eye exhibit at the local children’s museum and gives donations to the local arts center, Rotary, and various youth sports teams.
We are excited for the opportunity to showcase each of these practices in more detail here on ECP Viewpoints in the months to come. Congratulations to this year's honorees!