Casey Hogan, OD, FAAO, FSLS, Dipl. AAO Anterior Segment, of Advanced Eye Care Professionals in Oak Lawn, Illinois, is certainly not alone in her experience of practitioner burnout. The COVID-19 pandemic has been trying for people across all industries. “The pandemic has brought on many challenges as a business owner and employer,” says Dr. Hogan. “As we navigate these uncertain times, I always come back to my ‘why’ and my passion projects that keep me focused on the growth of my practice.” In this case, that’s Dr. Hogan’s passion for specialty contacts. “I have spent the past 20 years of my career focusing on building a specialty lens and medical/dry eye practice,” she says. “I never thought that these ‘niche’ specialties would ultimately save my practice during 2020.”
As it turned out, the return on investment of time, education and equipment purchases shone through the darkness of Dr. Hogan’s year. While telehealth found its place in many offices, Dr. Hogan was able to capitalize on the fact that many of her services couldn’t be replaced with online options. Her patients who needed to be fit or monitored for scleral lenses, disease management, dry eye and other forms of ocular surface disease, for example, needed to be seen in person. “If you build it, patients will come—and they certainly did when we reopened our doors in May 2020,” she says.
With the advances and wide availability of options, Dr. Hogan says that having success is in within reach for eye care professionals. “I’ve had good luck with CooperVision Specialty EyeCare’s Onefit MED+, as it has a larger diameter option for patients who need a larger landing zone for better alignment. Alden Optical (Bausch + Lomb) Zenlens is another great option as the smart curve design allows for streamlined modifications,” she says. Today, patients can be fit with truly customized designs. Dr. Hogan adds, “These companies also have multifocal, front toric, quadrant-specific, and notched lens options that truly allow for the practitioner to fit a majority of irregular and regular corneal patients.”
FOCUSED ON THE PRIZE
Dr. Hogan kept her focus by staying in touch with the things that kept her excited about coming work. “To be successful in any business, you have to be passionate and driven,” she says about her work with scleral lenses. “I believe that knowledge is power, and a breadth of knowledge is what helped to build my specialty practice.” Dr. Hogan also keeps herself invigorated by being up-to-date on what’s going on in the profession. She attends optometry meetings– particularly ones that are specific to specialty lens practices; she has joined organizations of like-minded individuals in the American Academy of Optometry who are focused on anterior segment; and she attends online webinars to continue her education.
Industry leaders serve as a major inspiration and source of drive for Dr. Hogan, and she follows the work of several women in optometry such as Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO FSLS, FBCLA; Stephanie Woo, OD, FAAO; Jennifer Harthan, OD, FAAO; Christine Sindt, OD, FAAO; Ellen Shorter, OD, FAAO; Muriel Schornack, OD; Lynette Johns, OD, FAAO, FSLS, FBCLA; Renee Reeder OD, FAAO, FBCLA, FSLS, FIACLE; and Daddi Fadel Doptom, FSLS, FBCLA, FAAO.
On a personal note, for the past 20 years, Dr. Hogan has battled with Sjögren’s syndrome — an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own glands, causing dry eyes and mouth. Dr. Hogan is passionate about helping to reduce suffering for other Sjögren’s syndrome patients.
It’s no secret that reinvesting knowledge and enthusiasm is a prime strategy to increase results. Dr. Hogan is no stranger to this concept. She believes in investing in her staff’s education through team meetings, as well as investing in technology and collaboration. “Communication goes a long way toward building trust with referring doctors,” she says. In fact, “Invite a fellow corneal specialist to your office to evaluate scleral lens patients,” she suggests. “It’s a huge practice-builder.”
In addition to the tremendous level of satisfaction that comes with being able to do more for her patients, there’s a revenue-building aspect. Dr. Hogan remarks on the big picture benefits of higher per-patient revenues. “It allows reduced patient loads and increased work/life balance,” she says. “Career satisfaction leads to less burnout.”
Advanced Eye Care Professionals opened in 2003 and has since grown from a 500-square-foot space with one employee into a fully equipped, state-of-the-art 2,400-square-foot facility. “Specialty lenses played a major factor in the practice’s growth.”