A lot of providers struggle with whether they even want more managed care patients. Mary Anne Murphy, OD, of Broomfield, Colorado, said yes to the VSP Global® Premier Program. “Since joining the Premier Program, our new patient volume has increased two-fold,” she says. That’s not unlike the experience of other providers participating in the Premier Program, which offers products, tools and services that create opportunities for doctors and value for members.
Dr. Murphy credits that increase primarily to the greater visibility she gets on the VSP® doctor locator website. “It allows our practice to stand out and attract patients by highlighting special savings that patients can enjoy here because of that relationship,” she says. Dr. Murphy, who is also a Vision Source® member, says the programs complement each other because both organizations are working to protect the interests of private practitioners. “In my practices, I’m seeing tons of people coming in because of the Premier Program,” she says.
Weighing pros and cons
She has been a VSP provider for 10 years. She analyzed the pros and cons before taking the step to sign on with the Premier Program. “The pros are that it drives patients in. That’s a big one. The con that I considered was that as a private practitioner, I work to differentiate my optical from others. If there are now other practices that are using the same guidelines for buying, there’s a worry that I won’t be able to differentiate,” she says. However, that is more of a theoretical issue than a practical one. “The reality is that anyone can buy the brands and frame lines that I have. Ultimately, it’s not my product offerings alone that are going to be what differentiates
my practice. When I looked at it that way, joining the Premier Program was a no-brainer.”
In fact, it has turned out well for her. Her metrics show that Premier Program patients will spend more in her practice. “The profitability that we enjoy is higher because their savings are higher. We are in an area with high employment. Most of our patients are well-employed and well-insured,” she says. “They want to use their benefits, and where they can maximize their vision care benefits and also purchase additional products that they want, they see real value.”
For example, patients looking for a provider will see that they can leverage their benefits with certain well-known brands, such as Calvin Klein or Nike, and get exclusive member rebates on contact or optical lenses by visiting a Premier Program location. “That extra $20 or $40 toward their frame allowance is borne by VSP or an industry partner, not by my practice,” she says. VSP provides back-end
support in terms of staff training and through a business development consultant. “Joining the program has taught us more about
product selection, patient flow and maximizing patients’ vision care benefits,” she says. There are front-end advantages, too, and the
prime one is the added exposure. “In my market, as saturated as it is, I simply cannot afford not to be in the Premier Program.”
Make patients stick
That’s where the “stickiness factor” comes into play. “If the Premier Program brings new patients in, it’s my chance to keep them here. We have the opportunity to provide additional services, such as dry eye or medical treatment, and additional products, such as contact lenses or multiple pairs of eyewear. I see this as a chance to generate extra business and create loyalty with new patients. It has worked for me philosophically,” she says.
Dr. Murphy is a VSP Global board member.