AEG Vision Notes Numerous Innovations and Enhancements as Practices Reopen, Remains 'Optimistic' About Expansion Strategy

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DALLAS—AEG Vision, an owner and operator of more than 150 leading optometry practices, has successfully reopened all locations after temporarily closing during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. AEG Vision has made significant operational enhancements to provide a safe, clean environment inside the practice—consistent with CDC and American Optometric Association (AOA) guidelines, according to the group’s announcement on Tuesday. Additionally, the group has instituted a number of permanent technological enhancements that will greatly improve patient communications and service.

“Since we carefully reopened our practices during May and June, our doctor, staff and patient response has been very encouraging,” AEG Vision chief executive officer Eric Anderson said. “Our teams have been thoroughly trained to maintain strict COVID-19 operating protocols while providing an outstanding level of service. Patients have shown their appreciation for this with historically high levels of NPS ratings (customer satisfaction scores).”

He added, “Our careful preparations have enabled us to maintain full eye exam appointment books since the reopening. As a result, the business has been consistently strong across our entire family of 150-plus practices.”
Founded in March 2017, AEG Vision is a portfolio company of Riata Capital Group and currently operates 154 locations under different regional brands across 12 states. The group had announced the temporary closing of all locations in late March, as VMAIL reported. 
 
Prior to reopening its practices, AEG Vision said it developed procedures, trained staff and implemented strict safety protocols. These included:

• Pre-screening of 100 percent of all patients and staff for COVID-19 symptoms before entering practices.

• Required personal protective equipment (PPE) for all doctors, staff and patients.

• Extended the time between exam appointments to ensure proper social distancing and cleaning between patient visits.

• Rigorous cleaning of exam rooms, high-touch areas and frame samples multiple times per day.

• Customized rerouting of practice traffic patterns to ensure social distancing in each unique practice.

“The safety of all individuals inside the practice is our top priority,” AEG Vision chief medical officer Ben Chudner, OD, FAAO, said. “Based on guidance by the CDC and AOA, we continually adjust our operational protocols to mitigate the risk of exposure and the spread of COVID-19.”

In addition, AEG Vision has created a COVID-19 rapid response team that enables swift response in the event executives become aware that any individuals were possibly exposed, Chudner said. “We are able to quickly move to notify all impacted parties and take any additional actions needed to ensure the health and safety or our AEG Vision family and our patients,” he noted.

Beyond AEG Vision’s considerable COVID-19 safety protocols, the company has also recently launched several enhancements to the patient experience across all practices, including:

• Telemedicine consultations: Doctors are available for convenient telemedicine consultations, if a patient prefers. These virtual appointments can be easily arranged by contacting the practice.

• Two-way texting: Telephone and email have long been available. However, most patients prefer to opt-in to text messaging to keep in touch. Through its advanced patient interface, AEG Vision Practices are now able to two-way text in real time with any of its 500,000 annual patients to accommodate requests —including eye exam confirmations.

• Optimized patient recall: AEG Vision has developed and launched a state-of-the-art patient recall system based on advanced patient analytics. This includes: a) enhanced individually-customized message creative, b) a new coordinated cadence of e-mail, text, phone reminders generating better response rates, and c) an advanced “smart” eye exam appointment book on each brand’s customized website.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for the entire optical industry, AEG Vision remains optimistic about the future of its expansion strategy. The company is actively engaged in discussions to bring more leading practices into the AEG group.

“AEG Vision’s ability to adapt and succeed in this unprecedented time has resonated with leading eyecare professionals across the country,” Joe Terzo, chief development officer, said. “We look forward to partnering with practices who share our commitment to innovation, safety and exceptional patient care.”