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    Dispensary business is thriving: So what's the problem?

    Case study highlights how practice, outsourcing partnership can tame inventory control, lighten load

    Take-home message: This dispensary case study highlights how a practice and outsourcing partnership can tame inventory control and lighten the load.

    Newport News, VAJames River Eye Physicians, an ophthalmology practice offering full-service eyecare in Newport News, VA, was thriving.

    The problem? Its in-house optical dispensary had begun to demand too many staff hours and resources. On top of that, the dispensary was not making as much of a profit as physicians running the practice thought it could.

    Brian J. McKee, MD, MS, one of the practice’s two board-certified ophthalmologists, made the decision to outsource the management of the practice’s optical dispensary (Vision Associates of Warren, NJ).

    Related: Making the case for computer lenses

    “Before we made the decision to outsource, our dispensary was operating inefficiently—even with two part-time optometrists and two part-time account people,” Dr. McKee said.

    “Although our practice’s profits had grown each year, our optical dispensary profits weren’t growing along the same curve,” he added. “We knew this meant we weren’t converting the optimal rate of eye-care patients into eyewear customers.”

    Among the practice’s challenges was the piecemeal, non-strategic fashion in which sales representatives and other vendors were bringing in frames. Inventory control and economy of scale were two of the main goals the practice hoped to achieve.

    Additionally, since the practice accepted many different vision plans, third-party insurance billing had become very time-consuming. The ability to turn over the labor-intensive processing of optical claims to a third party was appealing.

    Managing inventory

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