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This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent a product or service endorsement or recommendation by the American Optometric Association

Doctor Spotlight: Clay Mattson & Kari Carpenter

Clay Mattson & Kari Carpenter

I started my practice inside Wal-Mart in 2000 with very humble beginnings and would never have been able to envision how successful the practice has become today.  The real road to success began in 2001 when Dr. Carpenter started a practice in the Wal-Mart Vision Center just 7 miles down the road from my office.  Concerned about the potential for competition, I asked to meet with Dr. Carpenter to see what I was up against.  The competition was fierce; she had it all: energy, enthusiasm, great clinical skills, a terrific business sense, and a personality that you couldn’t help but like.  Unlike most of us who did not imagine ourselves practicing at Wal-Mart early on in our careers, Dr. Carpenter knew before she even went to optometry school that she wanted to establish a practice in a Wal-Mart setting.  She saw the potential to build a thriving practice by providing exceptional care to the thousands of people walking through the doors every day.  While many of us were negatively influenced about the evils of “corporate optometry” by our colleagues and practice management professors, Dr. Carpenter embraced the concept and focused on making it work.  I was fortunate to learn a great deal from Dr. Carpenter about running a successful practice.  Eventually, we merged our practices together.

Today our practice has three locations (all in Wal-Mart Vision Centers), five doctors, seven full-time staff members and a practice manager.  Two keys elements to the successful growth of the practice have been the implementation of medical billing and managing the practice as a true independent clinic.

Clay Mattson & Kari Carpenter We adopted a medical billing model from early on in the practice and this has been the key to allowing our practice to grow. We participate with every major medical insurance panel in our area. Patients appreciate the ability to use their medical insurance whenever possible, often resulting in them paying less out of pocket for their visits, while we are able to provide a very high level of care and get reimbursed appropriately for it. With medical billing, you do not need to see more patients to generate significantly more revenue. The increased revenue provided by medical billing has allowed us to hire additional doctors and our own staff and practice manager. This enables us to provide full doctor coverage during vacations without having to rely on "fill-in doctors." Doctors Rich, Pate and Maggard have also proven to be an integral part of growing our patient base and making the practice so successful. Having our own staff has given us the control that we need over hiring, firing and scheduling to run an efficient, professional practice. Medical billing has allowed us to equip our offices with the latest technology. All three offices are networked together into our electronic medical records system. We have hired an outside firm to scan in all of our existing paper records so that all 50,000 charts are easily accessed electronically (a great reason for doctors new to a practice to adopt an EMR from the start). All of our exam lanes have digital acuity screens and digital slit lamp imaging systems for immediate anterior segment and retinal photography that can be readily viewed by the patient. We have handheld pachymeters and tonometers and Matrix Visual Field instruments in each office. We have a Stratus OCT which allows us to manage our glaucoma and retinal patients in house. All of this is made possible and is often paid for by medical billing.

Another key to our success has come from being a truly independent practice. Wal-Mart is a fantastic landlord and provides us with an opportunity to offer a great convenience to our patients. They have a wealth of resources to help make your practice successful and they will support you in growing your practice. But... if you want your practice to be successful, the weight is on your shoulders. Don't rely on Wal-Mart, the AOA, your state association or anyone else to make your practice successful. You must take the reigns and be your own best advocate. You are not a "Wal-Mart Doctor," you are the owner of a private practice inside the best retail space in town and any business would love to set up shop in the space that you occupy. Create an identity for your practice by name and logo. Invest in marketing your practice. Invest in making the office look professional. Invest in advanced technology. Learn and understand billing and coding. Do your own insurance billing and manage your own receipts. Don't limit yourself to insurance plans that are compatible with the BOSS system. Hire your own staff. Provide exceptional care. Wal-Mart wants to see you succeed, but you are the only one who can make it happen; they can't do it for you.

We enjoy and appreciate the opportunity that we have had to build a successful private group practice inside Wal-Mart. Building a practice in any setting takes a lot of hard work and long hours, but the potential for growth is nearly limitless. Come visit our web site (www.eyemaxeyes.com) for more information on EyeMax!