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Question for currently practicing optometrists

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alferec

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A question for those of you who are currently practicing: how often do you get referrals from other doctors (besides other optometrists)? During my army optometry internship, I learned that military optometrists often get referrals (aka "consults") from family practitioners, internists, pediatricians, and other primary care MDs when they encounter eye problems.

Also, if you do get referrals, how does it work? i.e. do you have to call other primary care physicians in your area so that they can refer to you?
 

broadway

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A question for those of you who are currently practicing: how often do you get referrals from other doctors (besides other optometrists)? During my army optometry internship, I learned that military optometrists often get referrals (aka "consults") from family practitioners, internists, pediatricians, and other primary care MDs when they encounter eye problems.

Also, if you do get referrals, how does it work? i.e. do you have to call other primary care physicians in your area so that they can refer to you?

IN MY CASE IT'S RARE.
 

Ben Chudner

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A question for those of you who are currently practicing: how often do you get referrals from other doctors (besides other optometrists)? During my army optometry internship, I learned that military optometrists often get referrals (aka "consults") from family practitioners, internists, pediatricians, and other primary care MDs when they encounter eye problems.

Also, if you do get referrals, how does it work? i.e. do you have to call other primary care physicians in your area so that they can refer to you?
I get about 5 referrals a week from the local community clinic for dilated eye exams on diabetic patients. The private practice MD's typically refer to the retinal specialist in town because they know him from the hospital. Fortunately, he is busy enough that seeing diabetic patients with no retinopathy isn't profitable for him, so he often sends them to me for their ongoing care. I have the advantage of having worked at the same clinic with him before we both went on our own so we are good friends. He also sends me the ER follow ups when he is on county call, unless the patient requires something outside my scope of practice. The local oculoplastics doc also used to work with us so I get his ER follow ups as well.
 

sniklegem

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IN MY CASE IT'S RARE.

This is the second post of yours that I've read tonight... could you please lay off the capital case? It'd be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

And what kind of practice are you, since you say, "in my case."
 

362.04

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In my case, I get about 50-75 referrals per week. I would say that I don't see patients unless they are referred to me. If someone wanted to see me, they would have to first get a primary care medicine to send that person. Most of my patients are diabetics, endocrinologic problems and post CVA patients.

it is possible to build a hospital practice with just referrals.
 

KHE

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In my case, I get about 50-75 referrals per week. I would say that I don't see patients unless they are referred to me. If someone wanted to see me, they would have to first get a primary care medicine to send that person. Most of my patients are diabetics, endocrinologic problems and post CVA patients.

it is possible to build a hospital practice with just referrals.

I think that is important to clarify the mode of practice you are talking about for the students and prospective students here because someone getting 50-75 referrals is extremely uncommon outside of the institutional setting you are practicing in.

Also, when you talk about "building a practice" in a hospital setting...what exactly does that mean? Are you staff optometrist at the hospital? Are you a consulting doctor at the hospital? Can you "sell" your practice to another doctor if you wanted to?

These are the kinds of things I think students are interested in.

Regarding my own situation: I get about 1 or two referrals a week from our cataract/refractive surgery people for patients who need complex contact lens care. I get about 10 a week from other doctors, but they are almost never referred specifically to me. They are diabetics who have been told "get your eyes checked" and the patient self selected me.
 

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In one of my offices, I get 2-3 direct referrals from PCPs/internists per week and about 5-10 patients that come to me because they were told by their rheuamtologist/PCP/Internist to have their eyes checked. I also get a couple of specialty contact lens fit referrals as well. In my other office, I get about a dozen referrals from the pediatrician next door per week, and probably another dozen or so that come to me because they were told by their PCP to get their eyes checked. The vast majority of my "referrals" are patients that choose to come to my office rather than those that have been specifically referred to my me. In both offices I get a few referrals per week from the OMDs that work with us. These guys want to be in the OR as much as possible, and they have no problem sending any patient to me that is not going to need surgical care.

Posner
 

362.04

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Dear KHE,

Exactly, but if optometrists are trying to get refererals, then they should associate with a hospital. There is no other way to get lots of referrals from a broad range of doctors.

Let's look at it this another way. A lonesome OD in the world h as to meet each referral point and battle each individual bias that they have. Being associated with a hospital automatically gives some degree of credibility because you needed to get voted in and you have to pass some type of continuing QA. No such review process for the lonesome OD.

I cannot sell my practice at the hospital, but I can open shop and bring them in and retain those r eferrals so long I maintain my affiliation at the hospital. The hospital really doesn't care if I see them in the hospital or if it is outside the hospital. I will continue to use their billing system.
 

Ben Chudner

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Dear KHE,

Exactly, but if optometrists are trying to get refererals, then they should associate with a hospital. There is no other way to get lots of referrals from a broad range of doctors.

Let's look at it this another way. A lonesome OD in the world h as to meet each referral point and battle each individual bias that they have. Being associated with a hospital automatically gives some degree of credibility because you needed to get voted in and you have to pass some type of continuing QA. No such review process for the lonesome OD.

I cannot sell my practice at the hospital, but I can open shop and bring them in and retain those r eferrals so long I maintain my affiliation at the hospital. The hospital really doesn't care if I see them in the hospital or if it is outside the hospital. I will continue to use their billing system.
It sounds like you have a great situation, but in my area, an OD cannot associate with the hospital. I think my situation is more the norm. I have found the best way to get referrals is to send letters to MD's when I see mutual patients that are diabetic. It takes time, but they will start to trickle in. I agree with Posner, however, that the majority of "referrals" I see are patients that call me on their own when their PCP says to get an eye exam.
 

362.04

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Undoubtedly, an association with a hospital is one of the most difficult objectives for an optometrist. It is especially true if that optometrists wishes to practice within either the scope of t heir state legislation and or within a P&P of the hospital.

But there is nothing more rewarding than this kind of solution. There are some optometry and optometry students here on this forum who may despair at the prospect of a "boring" kind of practice life.

But like in all business and professions, there are "desired jobs" and these are usually occupied by well intended, fully focused/directed and driven people. Therefore, achieving a "dream" practice environment requires work! It's true that optometrists face an uphill battle, but if you want to practice the way you want then you've got to work to get it.
 
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SearchSquad

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Undoubtedly, an association with a hospital is one of the most difficult objectives for an optometrist. It is especially true if that optometrists wishes to practice within either the scope of t heir state legislation and or within a P&P of the hospital.

But there is nothing more rewarding than this kind of solution. There are some optometry and optometry students here on this forum who may despair at the prospect of a "boring" kind of practice life.

But like in all business and professions, there are "desired jobs" and these are usually occupied by well intended, fully focused/directed and driven people. Therefore, achieving a "dream" practice environment requires work! It's true that optometrists face an uphill battle, but if you want to practice the way you want then you've got to work to get it.

What does it mean to associated with a hospital? How can you have your own practice in a hospital?? I spent a year interning at a VA and loved their work. Most was disease, of course, and plain refractions were rare. But I hear working at the VA isn't the most profitable option, and I was willing to choose interesting over money. So how can you have both?

Thanks!
 

362.04

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What does it mean to associated with a hospital? How can you have your own practice in a hospital?? I spent a year interning at a VA and loved their work. Most was disease, of course, and plain refractions were rare. But I hear working at the VA isn't the most profitable option, and I was willing to choose interesting over money. So how can you have both?

Thanks!

In hospitals, there are often opportunities to become an affiliated member of their medical staff. What that means is that you cannot admit patients to the hospital, but you are recognized by the medical staff as aligning your interests to the hospital and that you have passed some sort of credentialling and QA process.

I bill separately from the hospital by the number of patients and by the depth of the procedures. It's not salaried. The hospital gets their facilities fee off of me and I see the patients from the medicine service, infectious disease department and primary care medicicne. I'm their first choice.

I do not work in a VA setting.
 

HOLLYWOOD

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I get a few per week. I think it depends where you practice(location). I have a lot of ophthalmologists in my area.
 

Laurac

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What does it mean to associated with a hospital? How can you have your own practice in a hospital?? I spent a year interning at a VA and loved their work. Most was disease, of course, and plain refractions were rare. But I hear working at the VA isn't the most profitable option, and I was willing to choose interesting over money. So how can you have both?

Thanks!
 

Laurac

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While the salary at the VA may be a bit lower than its private sector counterpart, the benefits are great: paid vacation, sick leave, paid days off for CE, low cost health and dental insurance, the Thrift Savings Plan, can work in any state so long as you are licensed in one state. Federal retirement plan: 1% of the average of top 3 earning years x the number of years worked. But you get credit for years spent with other federal agencies, including the military. You would not want to live on that alone, but it is a nice addition to the thrift savings plan. Most pts are very pleasant and respectful. Don't need to carry malpractice , decent time per pt encounter, well trained techs, state of the art ancillary testing equipment , don't need to deal with insurance, don't work weekends, don't work on commission . Don't have to sell your soul to sell glasses/services to people who neither need nor can afford them. Lots of interesting pathology. You actually get to use what you learned in school. Job security. Right now I am home recuperating from major surgery (hence the time to troll this website) if I was in private practice I would be utterly screwed .
 

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A question for those of you who are currently practicing: how often do you get referrals from other doctors (besides other optometrists)? During my army optometry internship, I learned that military optometrists often get referrals (aka "consults") from family practitioners, internists, pediatricians, and other primary care MDs when they encounter eye problems.

Also, if you do get referrals, how does it work? i.e. do you have to call other primary care physicians in your area so that they can refer to you?
 

Laurac

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A question for those of you who are currently practicing: how often do you get referrals from other doctors (besides other optometrists)? During my army optometry internship, I learned that military optometrists often get referrals (aka "consults") from family practitioners, internists, pediatricians, and other primary care MDs when they encounter eye problems.

Also, if you do get referrals, how does it work? i.e. do you have to call other primary care physicians in your area so that they can refer to you?
 

Laurac

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Start by writing brief (no more than 1 short paragraph) to PCPs/Specialists/Pediatritions /etc of pts that have conditions that can affect ocular health. i.e. Pt X was seen in my office today. Dilated fundus exam revealed mild background diabetic changes. I have counseled her regarding possible ocular changes and asked her to return in 1 year or sooner if problems arise. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. Sincerely, Joe Blow OD.

No longer than that. The lengthy letters most of us were taught to write in opto school just piss people off.
 

Laurac

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This is the second post of yours that I've read tonight... could you please lay off the capital case? It'd be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

And what kind of practice are you, since you say, "in my case."


What are you, the font police?
 
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