Ophthalmology Business

MAR 2014

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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10 Ophthalmology Business • March 2014 others in your position, someone who will keep you from making the worst choice—which is not making a decision at all. Here is what an advisor will take into consideration: • Your age The average retirement age for ophthalmologists hovers around 70, and that number has been on the rise for a number of reasons. D id you have a retirement age in mind when you started practice? Has that number changed over the years? If so, why? • Your health How well is your body handling your current situation? How many more years do you think you can maintain this workload? • The value of the practice Is your practice really worth what you think it is? Be prepared to handle the news that your buyout and the value of the practice's equipment and real estate may not be what you thought it would be. What types of things could you be doing to make your practice more attractive to a potential partner or buyer? • Long view vs. short view If you take the long view, you are more likely to continue investing in your practice. Are you willing to live with the effect these invest- ments may have on your personal income? Are you more comfort- able with taking the short view at this point in your life? Challenges and opportunity are two sides of the same coin; is your view too myopic to see opportunities on the "flip side" of your situation? • Financial readiness for retirement How much have you saved to finance retirement? What are your accountant and financial planner telling you about how much you can safely afford to withdraw every year? Will that be enough to main- tain what you consider an accept- able lifestyle? If not, how well will y ou and your family adjust to the change in income? • Your personal attitudes How much do you like—or dislike —what you are doing now? Are you addicted to your work? How much would you miss it if you were to retire? If you had the support of a group practice, how would you feel about stepping away from surgery and limiting your practice to medical ophthal- mology? Do you "play well with others," or do you have difficulty sharing? Do you have active inter- ests that will keep your mind engaged in retirement? Have you taken the time over the years to nurture friendships? • The competitive environment As a specialty, entry into ophthal- mology remains highly competi- tive; the number of qualified appli- cants still exceeds the capacity of residency programs. Even so, a MarketScope study projected that the number of ophthalmologists will increase less than 0.3% between 2012 and 2015, while overall the disease/procedure per ophthalmologist ratio will increase by 5%. 1 Nonetheless, the number of specialists, their subspecialties and reputation as well as the tech- nology available in a given market may make it more or less competi- tive than the average. Take a look at your competition. Do you share a similar culture with any of these practices? Are there any among them you would want (or could at least tolerate) as partners? No one really knows how the EHR situation and the Affordable Care Act will play out in the long term, and we can only guess what new challenges will come along in the future. The environment in which you will need to be making decisions that affect the trajectory of your career and your practice will never be without unknowns. Important decisions must be based on incom- plete information, which makes it all the more important to get answers to questions that do have answers. Many factors are unpredictable or n ot under your control. It's never too early to work closely with trusted advisors—your CPA, your attorney, the manager of your retirement investments, and perhaps a practice consultant—each of whom will approach your options from a differ- ent perspective. One caution: Airing your concerns to members of your staff will accomplish nothing, but it will make them anxious about their job security and increase staff turnover. Don't do it. You should, however, consider attending the ASCRS•ASOA Symposium & Congress. Attend relevant courses and symposia, and take advantage of the opportunity to speak with your peers and learn how they are handling these challenges, then seek out and interview consult- ants to find one you can call upon when the need arises. OB Reference David Harmon, Josh Merritt. "Demand for Ophthalmic Services & Ophthalmologists—A Resource Assessment." MarketScope, April 2009. Research commissioned by Carl Zeiss Meditec. continued from page 8 Mr. Rabourn is founder and managing principal of Medical Consulting Group, Springfield, Mo. He can be contacted at bill@medcgroup.com. 02-19_OB March 2104_Layout 1 2/19/14 11:07 AM Page 10

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