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Corporate ODs form association


Corporate-affiliated doctors partner with EyeCare Pro

Corporate-affiliated optometrists announced in mid July that they will form an association to facilitate networking, collaboration, and education. This new organization will be called Energeyes, the Association of Corporate-affiliated Optometrists, and it will be open to all corporate-affiliated optometrists.

Approximately 3,200, or 11% of practicing optometrists, hold leases with Walmart and Sam’s Club, Mark J. Uhler, OD, member of the Energeyes organizing committee and Walmart and Sam's Club leaseholder.

In a video statement, Dr. Uhler said that many optometrists affiliated with Walmart and Sam’s Club feel very much alone. “Many of us feel the need for better collaboration, networking, education, and representation that is specific to our needs,” he said in the statement. We all share a common experience with our affiliation in Walmart and Sam’s Club, specifically our passion and desire to be the best optometrist we can be. Working together, I believe we can accomplish more.”

Dr. Uhler has been a corporate optometrist for 17 years and says the new organization should not be viewed as an adversary to the American Optometric Association (AOA)- Energeyes will add services rendered through the AOA and other organizations.

“Energeyes is a way to help members in growing their practices and elevating the perception of the member practices,” he says. “Corporate-affiliated doctors don’t have a prestigious perception within the industry. That needs to be changed. Energeyes can do that. We want to build a community of like-minded optometrists.”

The AOA supports the association of corporate-affiliated optometrists. “I wish them well and hope that as this new organization comes together, we recognize that all optometrists, regardless of practice location, require substantial advocacy efforts in Washington to insure patients have access to the full scope of the care they require and that optometrists are best positioned to provide that care,” says Mitchell T. Munson, OD, FAAO, president of the AOA.

Dr. Uhler’s video statement was part of EyeCarePro’s “CEing is Believing” (CEIB) virtual clinical conference. EyeCarePro has partnered with the Walmart optometrists interested in forming an association.

“Back in February, we volunteered to assist the practitioners who came up with the idea that the doctors of Walmart could be organized,” says Michael Porat, EyeCarePro COO. EyeCarePro presented a business plan to the organizing optometrists, who then hired the company to a 2-year term as the managing prater of Energeyes. Porat will remain as EyeCarePro COO while also acting as Energeyes executive director.

The newly formed association will launch its Web site in early September. The site will contain additional details on becoming a member, membership benefits, membership dues, and more. Also included will be information on the first Energeyes national conference. The planned dates are April 25-27, 2014, with the venue yet to be determined. The initial board of directors for Energeyes will be decided at the meeting.

One member benefit will be a mentorship program. New optometry graduates or doctors who are considering entering into a corporate affiliation will have an opportunity to work with an affiliated doctor before making that choice.

In addition to mentorship, other member benefits will include networking, camaraderie, vendor support, and education, according to Dr. Uhler.

Porat says the new association will also be sensitive to the needs of vendors. Vendors who partner with Energeyes will be treated with respect, asked what they want to achieve, and told if it’s not possible before the association takes their money, he said.

Energeyes will a positive force in the profession, according to Porat. “We put together a set of philosophies that will differentiate us as a group of optometrists who you want to be working with and be a member of,” he says. “One of the philosophies is that whatever we ask for in dues, a member should be able to see a significant return on those dues upon registering. Why would someone join yet another optometric association? Put your money where your mouth is and show me, before you get my money, that what you ask for is dwarfed by what you hand me in benefits. That’s going to make us different. You’re going to see an association with a very positive attitude.”

Dr. Uhler anticipates enrolling 1,000 members within 12-16 months. “We want Energeyes to be a positive and supportive association,” he says.

Energeyes will join Association of  Leaseholding LensCrafters Doctors (ALLDOCS) as a group for corporate-affiliated optometrists.ODT

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