BUSINESS MyEyeDr.: Valuing Doctor-Patient Loyalty By Mark Tosh Monday, August 12, 2019 12:28 AM RELATED CONTENT Seeking Solutions Private Equity-Backed Firms Seek Bigger Slice of Health Care Pie EyeCare Partners: A Doctor-First Approach Acuity: Launched in 2017, but Growing Quickly Keplr: A Change of Name, But Not Philosophy Vision Source Next: Building a Community of Support for Independent ODs VSP Ventures: Care-Focused Alternative for ECPs in Transition Pearle Vision’s Ignite: Providing a ‘Strategic Conversion’ Program ‘Demystifying Private Equity’ Seminars Launched by Review of Optometric Business Among the factors behind MyEyeDr.’s success, according to chief executive officer Sue Downes, are the high level of support it provides to acquired practices and its overall efforts to “help grow and protect independent optometry, which will continue to be a core focus for us.” MyEyeDr., which was founded in 2001, operated about 515 practice locations as of late July and ranked No. 7 on VM’s list of Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers for 2019. Downes noted that MyEyeDr. also sees a continuation of the pipeline of acquisition candidates that will add to the company’s growth. “The interest is as strong as ever, but we will continue to remain very selective based on clinical reputation, geography and fit,” she added. Downes told VM that MyEyeDr. expects to add another 50 practices between August and the end of 2019, with expansion in the Midwest states of Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan this year. The group has a presence across much of the U.S., except the West Coast. “We are always looking at opportunities across the country and will strategize on the appropriate timeline to move to the West Coast with our new investor partners at Goldman Sachs,” she added. Another factor in the group’s success is that it insists ODs of acquired practices remain active with the business and seeing patients, according to chief growth officer David Sheffer. “Two or three years ago when Sue or I would talk to a doctor about selling their practice to us, they assumed it would be an exit strategy and that they would no longer be involved or seeing patients,” he said. “In fact, the reality is, we won’t even buy a practice if the doctor isn’t going to continue on.” MyEyeDr. also expects the practices that it adds are “healthy, best-in-class optometric practices,” with annual revenue about double the average U.S. eyecare practice. “We’re buying the larger, best-in-class practices where the doctor is doing well,” Sheffer said. “We’re not buying distressed practices or practices that are broken and need some TLC,” he said. And it is able to boost these practices further with an infrastructure that includes a home office with more than 500 support staff. “We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars at this point into that infrastructure,” Sheffer said, noting that the main office includes full-time employee benefits, technology, marketing and insurance credentialing departments. “All of these things are there to support the practices such that the folks in the actual practices can solely focus on the patient,” he added. Sheffer said the MyEyeDr. philosophy is centered on the patient-doctor relationship, which is invaluable when it’s a strong relationship. “This is what really matters in a low-frequency business such as getting your eyes examined and buying glasses,” he said. Patients are willing to drive a little further to see a person they really trust and care about to get their eyes examined. “What we are spending our valuable purchase price on—and we really pay up for the best practices—is making sure that clinically the doctor, or doctors, are very well respected and have very strong patient loyalty,” he said.