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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: Perry Christopher, O.D.

Uniontown Optometrist since October 1995
Perry Christopher

To write a piece about your practice, the logical place to start is reflecting on how your career started.  Remembering back to my last year of optometry school, the fact that I had absolutely no planned career path became obvious to me.  During my last year at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, I had excellent clinical training  providing  me with the skills to succeed in whatever mode of practice I entered.  Having met my future wife at PCO, my personal life was also in order.  Upon further reflection, I also owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Andrew Buzzelli.  During my three months at his practice, I learned the secret of what makes me content as an optometrist—running at lunch.  Still, I hadn’t planned what to do with my career.

Fast forward to graduation.  My wife, Rhonda, had one more year at PCO.  I took a position at a private practice in my hometown.  I didn’t enjoy being employed in private practice.  Upon her graduation, we moved to Pennsylvania to purchase a private practice.  Even with financing in place, the deal fell through.  So, we started our own practice—COLD.  To make ends meet, I was a Pearle optometrist.  I was miserable.  Miserable until the Wal-Mart DM called me and asked if I could handle a very busy vision center.  Of course, my answer was YES.  He asked me how soon I could start.  Of course, my answer was tomorrow.  I stepped into a vision center fully booked, five days a week for a month ahead.  I was miserable no more! 

Fast forward to the new supercenter:  On March 7, we moved into our beautiful new vision center in the supercenter.  I decided to use this as an opportunity to improve my practice by investing in new technology and improving patient care.  Change is hard, but here is what I am doing to move my practice forward:

  • Using my Electronic Medical Records to their full advantage.  A quality record helps deliver better care to your patients especially in complicated bifocal contact lens fits.  The EMR also will allow me to send out reports to other doctors in a timely manner.  Quality record keeping is a task that will make you a better doctor.
  • Medical Model and Billing.  Pennsylvania was late to the game in getting full therapeutics.  I am setting up my EMR to allow for electronic billing of all claims.  Practicing full scope will make you happier.
  • Anterior and posterior segment photography.   Retinal imaging is probably the best thing I ever acquired.  I just acquired an anterior segment camera.
  • Corneal topography.  After all, optometrists are supposed to be the contact lens specialist.  How can I make that claim without a topographer if other practitioners in the area have a topographer and I do not?
  • Full threshold visual field.  As an optometrist, I do not think it is acceptable to refer out every glaucoma suspect.  You must have a full threshold field.  Fortunately, the Oculus Easyfield is a quality instrument.
  • Macuscope.  People are worried about macular degeneration and this instrument helps identify those at risk.
  • A website and blog.   www.savemoneyseebetter.com
  • Digital visual acuity charts and ocutouch in the exam lanes.  I understand that patient education is a weakness of mine.  So, I just finished installing this excellent tool in both rooms.  When I use it, patients love it.
Perry Christopher

After 15 years at one location, I realize that I am not doing everything right.  No one does.  I am revaluating everything.  I want to make my practice as strong as possible.  I suggest you all do the same.  It has been very helpful.  I see many things that I need to improve.  To be honest, I struggle to implement all the changes I want to make.  If you don’t go through periods of reflection, your practice will get stagnant.  No one wants that.  About a year and a half ago, I added a second “slower” location.  I understand some of the challenges others face in their practices.  For the newer locations, I have come to the conclusion that you have to invest in marketing those locations.  I intend to initiate a marketing plan immediately.

Overall, I love working at the Uniontown WalMart.  I have had the same vision center manager for most  of my time.  We understand each other and work well together—the key to success.  I treat the associates with respect—another key.  My practice inside WalMart allows me the flexibility to enjoy my life.  I set my own schedule to share childcare duties with my wife.  I schedule to run or swim in the middle of the day.  I can leave early to run 5K races.  I am taking the day off to run the Philadelphia Marathon.  My flexible schedule also allowed me to be chairman of my county’s republican party for four years.  A very cool experience culminating in being invited to a White House Holiday party to meet the President.    I just wouldn’t change a thing!  Except, the lap swimming has made my hair look like a mad scientist’s, but at least I still have hair!