Affiliate Provider Program Update

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO May 04, 2012

An excellent strategic move in baseball is to allow a run to score in exchange for an out when your team is well ahead. After all, the ultimate goal is to win the game. This is a very apt description of the successful results to date for the VSP affiliate provider program.

For independent optometry, the goal is to gain access to as many patients as possible. The objective of the VSP affiliate provider program is to provide clients with the retail choice that they demand while at the same time increasing the number of patients who choose independent practice vs. a retail biased plan. The VSP affiliate program has helped VSP win or renew 736 contracts representing access to 8.7 million patients since the original pilot that began in 2010. Nearly 3.7 million patients have been connected to independent practice with only a slight uptick in patients choosing affiliate providers. 

Across all VSP plans, more than 90% of patients choose a VSP doctor for eye care services. With the affiliate program, the number is closer to 88% but is absolutely much higher than the typical percentage who choose private practice with retail-biased plans. So, despite a legitimate concern over increasing migration out of network, the affiliate program has been a big win for independent practice with the majority of patients remaining in network.

To fill a regional void, Wisconsin Vision is being added to the affiliate provider program effective June 05, 2012. Adding this affiliate provider will enable VSP to meet the demands of clients in that region and increase the number of potential patients who may choose independent practice. As is true of the entire affiliate provider program, the statistics will be watched carefully to ensure that the desired result is taking place.

As I see it, the VSP affiliate provider program has done a great job of increasing the number of patients available to VSP doctors. The vast majority of patients continue to choose VSP doctors for eye care services when VSP wins the contract. To win the game, VSP needs to continue to find innovative ways to meet the needs of the client so that contracts can be won and patients will have opportunity to choose independent optometric practices.

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