Looking back at a year of Energeyes success

January 12, 2015
Mark J. Uhler, OD

Dr. Mark J. Uhler, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Salus University, in 1992 with a Clinical Excellence Citation from The Eye Institute. In addition to working in both private optometric and ophthalmologic

On Sunday, September 1, 2013, life was breathed into this idea we now call the Energeyes Association. I am humbled by the experience to have completed our first full calendar year of operations. It is no longer about launching or “getting off the ground” but the true operationalizing, the implementation, and the hard part of putting a great idea into action.

On Sunday, September 1, 2013, life was breathed into this idea we now call the Energeyes Association. I am humbled by the experience to have completed our first full calendar year of operations. It is no longer about launching or “getting off the ground” but the true operationalizing, the implementation, and the hard part of putting a great idea into action.

Energeyes meets a need in the optometric profession

I am reminded of what it must have been like for the forefathers of our country. I think for George Washington, our reluctant first president, it wasn’t so much about being the first president, but that we had ourselves a new country with new ideals and plans. How exciting that must have been. I have been privileged to lead a different revolution that I believe is having, and will continue to have, a profound effect on the future of optometry and the provision of eye care from coast to coast. 

From the ground up

Creating something where there is nothing is never easy, no matter how great that idea is. Read the stories of great innovators who today we celebrate and applaud-the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, George Washington Carver-all fought uphill battles to bring new ideas to life. Some were even laughed at for their innovations. Energeyes has also experienced our requisite share of starts and stops, steps backward, delays, and all manner of obstacles for each and every step we took forward.

Part of the secret of our success to date is our Board of Directors-a courageous, resilient, innovative, professional group of people I have ever had the privilege to serve with. I use the word serve because these doctors are volunteers generously giving of their talents and time. It is in this generosity where our success lies.

In the 16 months the Energeyes Association has now been in business, we have garnered the support of 422 dues-paying members. Our members, risk takers and adventurers each and every one, have supported our nascent organization, shaped so many of our decisions and provided the motivation and impetus for all of us to continue to make this journey a reality. Our members are pioneers in their own right.

 

 

Taking a look back

Much of our best learning is conducted through reflection. As I reflect on this past calendar year, the staff, leadership, vendors, and members of the Energeyes Association have accomplished so much. Remember back to your first year of practice. Hopefully you took a moment to reflect on what that first year was like. Our Association’s first year of practice had the following elements:

• 422 corporate optometrists are now dues-paying ($250 per year) members

• Our members come from Walmart, Sam’s Club, LensCrafters, Costco, Sears, Pearle, and Target. We are truly reaching corporate optometry

• Our members reside in 44 different states, making us a true, national organization

• The programming we have developed, and continue to develop, includes:

• Free professional websites for all members (over 150 have been implemented to date, bringing an average of 5 new patients per month to the participating practices; 60 new patients per year per practice!)

• Our national meeting in Colorado Springs in April 2014 was a huge success with 50 members attend (18 percent of active membership), 22 vendors, and 12 speakers

• Our mentoring program has served 3 new members

• Our monthly webinar series is attended by 30 to 50 members each month, with an educational focus of the move to the medical model

• Our Product Purchasing Program has created a competitive bidding process for three products to date: OCT, anterior segment cameras, and patient communication tools

• Our newsletter is published monthly and is read by over 1,000 optometrists.

• We launched a new student program in July which is designed to educate optometry students on the choices they have (including corporate optometry) upon graduation

• We have turned our Board. I list this as an accomplishment because this was done seamlessly and without a misstep. Those doctors who helped get the Association off the ground did not see their skills fitting with a Board poised for growth. Our additional Board members have raised the bar on our Board, and I expect great things from the entire Board in the coming year. • We will elect two new Board members for the very first time at our national meeting in May

• We are piloting products to ensure their efficacy and appropriateness for a corporate practice and continue to have vendors approach our association with new product and service ideas

• I was fortunate to be recognized on behalf of the Association as one of the top influencers in the industry by Jobson Optometric Business Innovator’s program. This is a great illustration of the positive impact we are having on the industry

• My colleague Dr. Eric Botts and I were featured earlier this year on Dr. Gary Gerber’s Power Hour radio show.

Of course these accomplishments sit atop a legal, accounting, marketing, membership, and operations structure that one year later we all seem to take for granted. Suffice it to say, that for this young start-up in our first year of practice, we have accomplished much and have laid a strong foundation for our future. 

Energeyes will energize corporate optometry 

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