The healthcare industry is witnessing a significant expansion, underscored by the growth in the global eye care market, which reached a value of US$ 69.3 Billion in 2022. According to IMARC Group, this market is projected to escalate to US$ 85.5 Billion by 2028. This expanding market presents an ideal opportunity for Optometric practices to thrive, provided they can navigate the administrative hurdles efficiently to focus more on patient care. Optometric Management Services Organization (MSOs) have emerged as a popular choice among healthcare and eye care professionals looking to optimize their practices amidst this growth. By offering administrative and operational support, MSOs aim to free optometrists to focus on delivering excellent patient care, thereby positioning them favorably to reap the benefits of the expanding market.
For clinic owners weighed down by paperwork, staffing challenges, and other non-clinical burdens, the MSO model promises relief. However, like any business decision, joining an MSO requires a careful evaluation. This article delineates key factors to consider when assessing if an MSO is the right fit for your optometry practice, spotlighting the potential advantages in a growing eye care market.
Why Consider an MSO Partnership?
MSOs offer optometrists and ophthalmologists the chance to concentrate on patients rather than management minutiae. By taking over essential but time-consuming tasks like billing, HR, and inventory management, MSOs empower practitioners to spend more quality time doing what they do best—caring for patients.
For doctors feeling stretched thin handling both clinical and administrative duties, this lift can be a godsend. Eliminating the grind of paperwork creates renewed fulfillment and joy in practice. Patients also benefit from providers with greater bandwidth to address their needs.
Additionally, MSOs provide access to resources individual practices may lack, including:
- Advanced technologies and specialty equipment
- Peer networking and knowledge sharing
- Standardized care protocols and best practices
- Group purchasing benefits and discounts
- Robust analytics for data-driven decisions
For clinic owners looking to expand their capabilities and tap into shared knowledge, an MSO’s collective expertise can bolster growth in exciting new areas.
Key Functions MSOs Can Handle for Your Practice
Optometry MSOs offer to take on a wide spectrum of non-clinical tasks. Understanding their full range of services helps assess if they can meet your practice’s needs.
Typical functions include:
- Billing management and revenue cycle optimization
- Staff recruiting, training and performance monitoring
- Bookkeeping and financial reporting
- Medical supply and inventory ordering
- Appointment scheduling optimization
- Front desk staffing and customer service
- Marketing strategy and ad placement
- IT/EHR support and cybersecurity
- Facilities management
The specific mix of services varies by MSO. Some focus narrowly on financial management, while full-service organizations offer an expansive menu. Clearly identify your biggest pain points before evaluating options.
How MSOs Can Enhance Patient Care Quality
While handing off administrative work is appealing, practitioners rightfully want reassurance that patient care won’t suffer with an MSO.
The good news is that quality often improves under the MSO model. Centralized management and shared protocols promote clinical excellence and consistency.
For example, formalized procedures for tasks like screening referrals ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Centralized scheduling with automated reminders reduces no-shows. Access to specialists and advanced diagnostics through the MSO network elevates care options.Ongoing staff training and performance monitoring prevent declines in service. And extensive data analytics help continuously refine workflows and identify areas for improvement.
For clinics striving for clinical excellence, MSOs can provide welcome support to make quality patient experiences a reality.
MSOs Can Drive New Growth for Your Practice
Beyond optimizing day-to-day operations, MSOs aim to spur business growth and revenue gains for member practices. Their scale, resources, and clinical expertise enable expansion potential for independent optometrists.
Marketing is one area where MSO size offers advantages. Network-wide campaigns in print, TV, radio and online channels extend reach. Name recognition grows. MSO staff handle ad creation and placement—no need to go it alone. Centralized scheduling and customer service support new location growth by efficiently coordinating increased demand. Economies of scale make large equipment purchases more affordable, enabling new specialty offerings. While success ultimately depends on providing great patient care, MSOs equip their members with tools to reach more people and expand services for growth.
Assessing Readiness Before Transitioning to an MSO
Joining an MSO impacts your whole practice, so prudent preparation is a must. An objective operational review ahead of time will reduce surprises down the road.
First, catalog day-to-day workflows you’d like to be handed off and identify lingering trouble spots needing attention, whether supply chain hiccups or EHR challenges. Reviewing finances to project ROI and costs is also key. This upfront analysis surfaces any changes needed to smooth the transition, like improving billing processes or training staff on new protocols. While MSOs handle heavy lifting, you still steer the ship.
Partnering With the Right MSO for Your Practice Goals
All MSOs are not created equal. To choose one that’s a fit for your practice, start by leveraging professional connections and industry events to gather inside perspectives on specific MSOs. Nothing beats vetting options based on trusted peer experiences.
From there, dive into each prospective MSO’s track record, services, costs, and partnership structure. Ensure philosophies align around patient care and practice culture. Explore how they drive growth for members.
The ideal MSO seamlessly integrates with your systems and goals. Take time to be selective, just as you would for hiring staff or purchasing major equipment.
Comparing MSOs to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
While MSOs offer comprehensive practice management, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) provides a more tailored alternative worth considering for people not ready for a more corporate practice. BPO involves contracting external teams to handle specific administrative tasks, without the extensive partnership structure of an MSO which allows the healthcare provider to maintain a private practice.
For practice owners seeking limited support, BPOs allow choosing specific needs like medical billing management or telehealth coordination. Services scale up or down to match your current priorities. There are no requirements to participate in wider group initiatives.
Pricing is also flexible based on customized service packages. Business owners only pay for the specific tasks they outsource, avoiding the revenue-sharing common with MSOs. This “pick your services” model provides better cash flow control for smaller practices.
The BPO approach also enables sticking with your existing systems versus adapting processes to the MSO model. No need to change your EHR platform or inventory practices if they work for you today. And you maintain direct oversight of all operations.
While MSOs offer turnkey practice management, BPOs allow focused task delegation while retaining overall independence. For clinics not ready to join a larger consolidated entity, outsourcing provides an interim step to lighten the workload until scaling demands fuller MSO integration.
The non-clinical world of optometry is complex, necessitating efficient systems to manage the administrative burden. Optometric Management Service Organizations (MSOs) emerge as an opportunity for practitioners seeking to alleviate administrative burdens, particularly in human resources and billing management, allowing for a renewed focus on patient care. By doing so, they significantly contribute to a health system that aims for operational efficiency while preserving the focus of personalized patient care.
On the flip side, the delineation between MSOs and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) offers an insight into the spectrum of administrative support available. While MSOs provide a more integrated approach, BPOs allow for focused task delegation, offering a tailored solution for those not ready for a full-fledged MSO model. This comparative analysis underscores the importance of a meticulous assessment to determine the right fit for one’s practice. Through careful evaluation and a clear understanding of the practice’s needs and long-term vision, optometrists can make well-informed decisions. Whichever path is chosen, the ultimate goal remains clear: to enhance operational efficiency, improve patient care quality, and drive practice growth amidst an evolving healthcare landscape.