Jill Showalter, OD, is a driven entrepreneur. A goal-setter. A dedicated practitioner. The daughter of an optometrist herself, Dr. Showalter and her father started a private practice, EyeDoctors, in Vienna, West Virginia, in 2005. In 2012, she assumed sole ownership, and a few years later, she opened the Dry Eye Center of West Virginia just a few doors down.
The Dry Eye Center was a natural outgrowth of the highest level of care that she offers. “We manage patients with diabetes until they need surgical intervention; we try to take care of what patients need for as long as possible. As a dry eye sufferer myself, I felt a calling to add those services for patients in this area,” she says. She started doing so about three years ago and quickly realized the available office space in her one location was too limited. When the space in the same row of shops became available, it was an obvious solution.
“I practice there one day a week, and we see about 18 patients in a day. We have advanced technology for diagnosis, as well as slit lamp video and photographs so that I can show patients the tear evaporation time,” she says. Her treatment options range from advanced instrumentation, prescribing topical and oral medications and dietary supplements and discussing nutrition and eyelid hygiene. Opening a second location—even one with a tight focus—did complicate business management. She was faced with a decision. “I was overburdened with trying to balance two careers: seeing patients and running a business. Something had to give,” she recalls.
An opportunity arose during discussions with Keplr Vision. She had previously met Jay Binkowitz, now executive vice president of business strategy for Keplr Vision. He had become a trusted advisor to her. “Because of the work we had done together, I had been able to manage a complex mix of medical
and [optical] retail,” she says.
In September 2018, she sold her practice to Keplr Vision. “I’m not a person who ever envisioned that I would sell the practice. But I needed to get out from under the burden of keeping up with all the changes in the health care industry and the what-ifs,” she says.
She remains highly involved with the management of both the EyeDoctors and the Dry Eye Center offices; indeed, “Keplr Vision wants to support the doctors in advancing the medical component of care, and that is important to me,” she says. “I am part of something bigger. Partnership with Keplr Vision has allowed me to expand my vision for the Dry Eye Center further than I would have in private practice.”
She remembers the day after the sale was complete, and she was able to focus solely on her patients, “On that day and every day since, the experience has lived up to all of my expectations.”
She has continued to realize the benefits of being part of the Keplr Vision organization. Time-consuming tasks like office administration are part of what Keplr Vision offers, as well as professional development
and networking opportunities. “I am thrilled to have professional support to become a better doctor through training and sharing of best practices among partner ODs. I can set my sights on new goals, while still feeling empowered to influence the business operations at my practice as much as I feel necessary.”