There can be an eye in team

The original phrase, which so many of us heard growing up or playing sports, was to emphasize that real success comes from teamwork. Certainly, teamwork is an integral part of any prosperous practice, but it’s not necessarily the sentiment you hear between practices that are, in theory, in competition.

Some practices—the best practices—think in a different way. They recognize that together with their peers, there is great opportunity…to learn from each other’s successes, to understand their setbacks, and even to come together to solve some problems confronting the industry.

As we welcome the 2021 Class of CooperVision® Best Practices, we celebrate the peer-selected ODs over the course of the past five years who have a demonstrated track record of delivering the best patient care while growing a thriving practice together into forums of sharing and collaboration. Two Best Practices alumni recently discussed the experiences that brought them to the program and how the collaboration and peer-to-peer networking it fosters was instrumental in their growth.

Jason Ortman, OD, of Black Diamond Eye Care in Castle Pines, Colorado—a 2017 Best Practices honoree—entered optometry in part because he didn’t have an inclination toward or an aptitude for business. Or so he thought. Time spent in high school and college shadowing a family friend who was an ophthalmologist convinced Ortman to apply to optometry school at Ohio State University. He expressed his desire to go into health care because, “I hate business. I don’t think I ever want to be a businessperson.” But once in the profession he realized he couldn’t be the doctor he wanted to be without an equal focus on the patient and the business.  “If you’re totally business-oriented, there’s a possibility you won’t look out for the patients’ best interests. The converse is also true. You need a mixture of empathy and providing the best care to the patient in an ethical manner, but also an understanding that to provide that care, the business has to be successful.” 

It has proved to be a sound strategy. Once a person who wanted nothing to do with business, Ortman now owns three thriving practices. Through Best Practices, he has become a resource to his peers who own, or are considering owning, multiple practices and those who want their one and only practice to thrive.

Ian Whipple, OD, of Vision Source Farr West in Farr West, Utah—a 2019 Best Practices honoree—is always looking for ways to improve his practice’s ability to provide the best patient care. His quest for constant improvement has led him to implement a number of innovations that other ODs said were impossible carry out, including removing all of the phones from the floor so his staff can exclusively focus on the patient in front of them. Told that it was impossible by number of others in the industry, it proved to be a tremendous boon to the patient experience. He also created a position of patient concierge well before COVID was on the horizon, but that prepared Vision Source Farr West to deal with virus protocols more readily than other practices.

As much as he enjoys innovation, he enjoys sharing ideas with fellow ODs even more, offering advice based on what has gone well, and learning from others through the experiences of their practices. “It’s invigorating when like-minded individuals are willing to be vulnerable and share some of the successes, and some of the failures, in their practice. That collaboration between doctors is essential. It has to happen.”

Together, Drs. Ortman and Whipple are ideal exemplars of the old adage—there is no “I” in team, but there is abundant and consistent teamwork in and between the most successful eye care practices. And they are prominent examples of how Best Practices can bring together professionals that have the potential to inspire excellence across the entire profession of optometry.

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