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CooperVision Names 2018 Best Practices Honorees

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(PRESS RELEASE) PLEASANTON, CA — From every corner of the country, practices big and small submitted their stories of excellence in eye care, sharing the innovation, business momentum, patient experience, and culture that set them apart. CooperVision, Inc. announced that 10 of these eye care practices have been chosen as its 2018 Best Practices.

Now in its third year, CooperVision’s Best Practices program seeks to recognize and celebrate practices whose visionary, innovative and unexpected aspects of care delivery lead to exceptional patient care and the elevation of the profession.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Doctor My Eyes – Scottsdale, AZ
    Founded in 1985, Doctor My Eyes is built on relationships. The practice motto is “where modern technology meets old-fashioned care,” and for 32 years, Stephen Cohen, OD, has cared for patients who have become like extended members of his family. Dr. Cohen has long been an early adopter of new technology. For example, because Doctor My Eyes has a large specialty contact lens practice, it was the first to be certified in Arizona to do CRT after it received FDA approval. But despite Dr. Cohen’s pride in his ongoing investments in technology, there is one area in which he plans to be the last person standing: he refuses to “upgrade” to an automated phone system! Dr. Cohen views optometry as a service field, and believes that patients should always reach a person when they call. To ensure they are continuously working to improve, Dr. Cohen and his team seek feedback from everyone, including patients, reps, and each other. He encourages his staff to “strive for perfection and pray we never get there,” knowing that once a practice has “arrived,” it settles into complacency, while he would rather continue to improve. Dr. Cohen has been actively involved in the profession of optometry, welcoming students into his practice, lecturing, and holding various board positions over the years. In 2011, he became the first optometrist to serve on the national board of the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, and is currently serving as the first OD Chairman of the National Board.
  • Family Eye Care of Coal City – Coal City, IL
    Located in a small rural town in central Illinois, Family Eye Care of Coal City operates on the foundation that all patients deserve comprehensive, high-quality, honest eye care. Nicholas Rutkowski, OD, makes sure the practice brings that mentality to every patient interaction, which has led to a steadfast reputation and a continuous flow of new patients. One of the first things patients notice at Family Eye Care of Coal City is its technology. From the waiting area to the pre-testing rooms, from the exam rooms to the optical, the practice has invested in the most advanced technology. His practice partner, Jonathan Micetich, OD, agrees on the value of thoroughly incorporating technology into the exam process, noting that it makes a great education tool for the patients and helps them to deliver the best possible patient experience. All new patients are offered a complimentary retinal wellness screening with the OCT and Optos Retinal Camera. Patients often remark, “My last eye doctor didn’t do half of the things you do here!” Dr. Rutkowski believes if you’re not learning, you’re not growing. The doctors and staff are always attending conferences and seminars, and sharing ideas for improving the practice. In the seven years since Dr. Rutkowski took over Family Eye Care of Coal City, revenue has increased more than 600%. The practice looks for every opportunity to give back to its community. During the holidays, patients are encouraged to nominate those in need of eye care for the “Operation Christmas Sight” program, which results in free eye exams, glasses, and/or a year supply of contact lenses.
  • Highlands Ranch Optical – Highlands Ranch, CO
    If there is one word to describe Highlands Ranch Optical, it is “passion,” says Jeff Ward, OD. Since establishing the practice in 2004, Dr. Ward has built a culture in which doctors and staff are passionate—about the specialties they offer, the relationships they form with patients, the instruments they utilize, the eye wear they sell, and the personal growth they all achieve. With the rate of myopia in the U.S. increasing more than 66% over the past 30 years, Dr. Ward is a myopia management enthusiast. Having practiced orthokeratology for more than a decade, he has seen first-hand the benefits of slowing or even halting myopia progression. To maintain satisfied patients, Dr. Ward believes in making substantial reinvestments into his practice. Two years ago, Highlands Ranch Optical moved offices, nearly tripling its square footage, and went from a standard-looking medical office to creating a unique, appealing atmosphere. The extra space has allowed for expansion of the practice’s services. Recently, Dr. Ward opened the Neuro-Optometric Institute of the Rockies. Housed under the same roof as Highlands Ranch Optical, this separate clinic provides sports vision and vision therapy services. Soon, it will also be providing vision rehabilitation for patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
  • The Koetting Associates – St. Louis, MO
    The Koetting Associates is an independent optometry practice with deep roots in St. Louis. Felix Koetting, OD, first founded the practice in 1921, and was joined in practice by his son, Robert Koetting, OD, in 1947. Robert became very intrigued by the potential of contact lenses, and in 1961, he began a practice exclusive to contacts. In 1982, Carmen Castellano, OD, joined Dr. Koetting, and purchased the practice four years later. Today, the practice continues the tradition of providing quality comprehensive care with a strong emphasis on contact lenses. Dr. Castellano has also maintained the tradition of the family practice, as his two sons—Joseph Castellano, OD, and Nicholas Castellano, OD—joined him in 2011 and 2016, respectively. As a leader in contact lenses, The Koetting Associates has participated in research studies that investigate a variety of contact lens materials, designs, and care products, which has enabled the practice to stay on the leading edge of contact lens technology. In addition to touching the lives of thousands of patients, the practice has also helped influence the careers of hundreds of optometry students, as it has welcomed optometric externs regularly over the past 25 years.
  • Livermore Optometry Group – Livermore, CA
    For more than 70 years, Livermore Optometry Group has been a leader in eye care and health care in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now with seven doctors and 35 staff members, the practice is known for its ability to provide exceptional eye care services and patient experiences. Its core culture is to “Just Say Yes” to patients and staff. Livermore Optometry Group is led by Clark Abramson, OD, Steven Faith, OD, and Shawna Kuntz, OD, and utilizes every clinical technology available to the contemporary eye care practice. The practice has a complete on-site VSP certified ophthalmic finishing lab so that it can process its own private and VSP prescriptions, and its contact lens clinic is capable of modifying RGP lenses on site, enabling faster completion times and total control over the quality of the products dispensed. And it is one of only a handful of independent optometric practices in the Bay Area that provides complete low vision services. Livermore Optometry Group is a certified ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test) Center, and has donated the baseline tests to the two local high schools’ athletic programs. The doctors are currently working with Stanford University and ValleyCare Hospital to develop a local concussion center to advance the knowledge and care for concussed patients and their families. 
  • Norwalk Eye Care – Norwalk, CT
    Jennifer Stewart, OD, and Mark Feder, OD, truly love optometry. They love going to work each day, and consider their patients family. The culture at Norwalk Eye Care—founded in 1985—is built around that feeling, as the practice aims to deliver top-notch, warm, friendly service with high-tech diagnostics. Norwalk Eye Care recently moved from its 1,100 sq. ft. home of 20+ years to a brand new, 3,400 sq. ft. space. By doing so, it now has five exam lanes, double the optical and pretest space, and was able to add new technology, in addition to the new equipment Dr. Stewart and Dr. Feder purchase each year. The office expansion has also allowed them to add two part-time associate doctors, one of which is Dr. Feder’s daughter. They have also been able to utilize scribes in the exam rooms, giving the doctors more face time with patients, with less typing, which contributes to the practice’s high-touch patient experience. At Norwalk Eye Care, the doctors choose the most advanced technology that is best for their patients, and as a result, they fit more than 85% of their patients in 1-day contact lenses. Last year, Dr. Stewart also established Performance 20/20 in Stamford, Conn., one of the only standalone sports and performance vision practices in the country. She regularly consults with optometrists and practice owners about bringing these tools to their practices.
  • Personal Eyecare – Sylvania, OH
    Roxanna Potter, OD, wants patients to know that her practice, Personal Eyecare, is true to its name. Established in 2008, the practice provides primary eye care to patients of all ages, but Dr. Potter specializes in cornea and contact lenses, including scleral lenses and orthokeratology, as well as dry eye treatment and macular degeneration prevention. With growing competition in automation and online vision services and products, Dr. Potter sees Personal Eyecare thriving by offering services that are not easily found elsewhere. From the newest in digital progressive designs to specialty contact lens fittings, she works to offer new, advanced eye care options to every patient. Although Dr. Potter invests heavily in advanced technology, she still believes it is the practice’s personal, community, and family-focused atmosphere that keeps patients coming back. As an example, every child under the age of 5 receives a copy of The Eye Book by Dr. Seuss with Personal Eyecare’s information stamped inside. And at the end of every pediatric eye exam, Dr. Potter writes “prescriptions” for ice cream that can be fulfilled (free for the patient) at the ice cream shop next door. 
  • Pinnacle Eye Associates, P.A. – McKinney, TX
    Since founding Pinnacle Eye Associates in 2003, Carrie Alfieri, OD, has inspired everyone at the practice to work toward a shared mission: to exceed patients’ expectations, inspire confidence through education, and foster excellence in vision care services and products by remaining at the technological forefront of eye care. An industry consultant once said, “Dr. Alfieri will not settle for the status quo… she doesn’t just have out-of-the-box ideas, she implements [them].” As a member of two national mastermind groups and leader of a local study group, Dr. Alfieri continuously strives to push the boundaries of not only Pinnacle Eye Associates, but of optometry. Walk into the practice and you’ll find there are no phones at the front desk, creating a concierge atmosphere for patients. Technology, systems, and processes are in place to maximize efficiency, office flow, and the patient focused experience. For staff, the office is not policy driven; instead, the team is empowered to give patients what they would want to receive. Dr. Alfieri fosters a fun and motivational work culture, where staff members award each other for going above and beyond. Pinnacle Eye Associates has been voted “Best Optometrist of McKinney” ten times by the community, selected as McKinney’s 2018 “Small Business of the Year” and Dr. Alfieri has twice been named to the Top 25 Women in Business in McKinney.
  • Vision Optique – Houston, TX
    Founded in 1999, Vision Optique is a private optometric practice in Houston, Texas that features an innovative high-end optical, an advanced contact lens practice, and a comprehensive ocular health center. Led by Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD, the practice’s co-founder, along with her partner Brad S. Owens, OD, Vision Optique focuses on giving patients an exceptional experience from start to finish. All necessary paperwork and insurance pre-authorizations are taken care of prior to appointments so that when patients—Vision Optique’s “guests”—enter the practice, they are greeted with a warm smile, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a stylish, browser-friendly optical. Vision Optique is quick to adopt the latest innovations in eye care and eye wear technology. Doctors prescribe premium contact lenses and the highest quality spectacles, and educate patients on why these products are superior. Vision Optique’s opticians utilize a virtual reality/augmented reality device to simulate a patient’s vision with the prescribed lens solution, and also use digital lens measuring technology. The practice fits more than 77% of its patients in 1-day contact lenses, and is a leader in visual anti-aging solutions, digital eye fatigue education and prevention, and dry eye disease management. Dr. Shen Lee serves as an advisor on various eye care boards for companies on the topics of ocular health, lens innovations, health care social media, and anti-aging eye care.
  • Vision Professionals – Columbus, OH
    Vision Professionals was established in 1974, but Christopher Smiley, OD, purchased the two-location practice immediately after graduating optometry school in 2001. Since then, he has grown the contact lens specialty practice to become a referral center in the region, where he and his colleagues see four to five irregular cornea fits per day. It is not uncommon for patients to drive two or more hours to be seen at Vision Professionals, as Dr. Smiley is able to fit patients who haven’t been successful anywhere else. The practice works hard to advance contact lens patient care by transitioning as many patients as possible into 1-day contact lenses and to figure out how to keep patients comfortable in contact lenses longer in their lives. Dr. Smiley utilizes tracking and analysis of key performance indicators to ensure the practice is run as efficiently and effectively as possible. Vision Professionals has a mantra: “There are no amateurs here!” The team believes in excellence from the moment of first contact with a patient, to when they bid a fond farewell.

“We are proud to publicly congratulate and formally introduce our newest Best Practices honorees,” said Michele Andrews, OD, senior director of professional and academic affairs, North America, CooperVision. “Over the last three years, this program has uncovered some of the nation’s most impressive eye care practices—some more prominent, but others who have truly been hidden gems. We continue to be humbled by the opportunity to get to know and partner with these eye doctors, and look forward to sharing their stories.”

New this year, the Best Practices honorees will collaborate to tackle a challenge facing the industry, working together in the coming months to conduct research, collect ideas, put together recommendations, and present them to their peers in optometry. CooperVision and the Best Practices honorees will share their progress throughout the process.

“This collaboration is an exciting addition to the Best Practices program,” said Andrews. “Through our ongoing partnership with practitioners across the country, we have identified trends and challenges facing today’s eye care practices. Best Practices is largely about recognizing practices that have found ways to succeed in spite of all of that. These honorees are some of the brightest minds in our industry, and we believe that providing them the resources to collectively tackle these issues will be a valuable opportunity to advance the profession.”

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All U.S. optometry practices currently fitting contact lenses were eligible for consideration in Fall 2017. Candidates were evaluated and honorees were selected by a panel of judges including past Best Practices honorees, industry experts, and CooperVision leaders. A full list of judges is available here. Evaluation was based on insights and experiences shared about the practices’ innovation, patient experience, and business culture.

The 2018 Best Practices honorees will be broadly recognized throughout the year, and are invited to attend an educational meeting hosted by CooperVision in April.

CooperVision will open 2019 Best Practices submissions in the fall. The Best Practices program is an annual event, and part of CooperVision’s commitment to showcasing the dedication of eye care practitioners to their patients and communities. To stay up to date on this program and learn more about this year’s honorees, visit www.eyecarebestpractices.com and follow the initiative on Facebook and on Twitter.

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