2. Look for partners who share your philosophy
When building a successful co-management network, ophthalmology practices should seek out and nurture relationships with like-minded partners.
“We look for optometrists who are progressive, engaged in continuing education, and who are always looking to learn more about what is happening in eye care,” said Mark Kontos, MD, who is in private practice with Empire Eye Physicians, Spokane, WA, and Coeur d'Alene, ID. The practice has co-management relationships with about 75 optometrists.
“A fundamental theme in our practice is that we want to be on the cutting edge of innovation in ophthalmology,” Dr. Kontos said.
For example, his practice likes to use advanced technology lenses to correct astigmatism and presbyopia, but that can be a source of conflict if the referring optometrist has little interest in or knowledge about the technology.
“We feel that new lenses like the extended-depth-of-focus IOLs [Tecnis Symfony, Johnson & Johnson Vision] are beneficial to patients, and so it is important that we are on the same page with our referring doctors,” he said.
To keep co-management partners up to date, his practice presents a large education event each year. Speakers discuss new technology and the latest research in ophthalmology.
In addition, ophthalmologists in the practice also meet with co-managing partners during dinner and lunch meetings once or twice a month to discuss issues related to patient care and to maintain strong lines of communication.
“If they can spend a half day in the practice, that gives them an opportunity to see surgery and us a chance to educate them about what we are doing in our practice,” he said. “We also can get valuable feedback from the optometrists on what patients are saying about the combined care we are providing.”