Our Marketplace is Changing

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO June 10, 2011

This is my very first blog. It is great to reach out to other private practitioners and engage you all in a dialogue regarding VSP and our profession. VSP has one and only one mission: to deliver patients to member doctor practices. Changes which occur in the marketplace will require market based adjustments in strategy on the part of VSP to continue to deliver on that mission.

Have you ever wondered who calls the shots in any marketplace? Ultimately, it is always the buyer who calls the shots. No business will succeed unless they are able to both understand the needs of their customer and then provide products and services which meet those needs. Such is the case in the managed vision care marketplace. Such is the case for the clients of VSP.

Cisco, a 15 year VSP client, approached VSP about adding an optical delivery center to their Life Connections Health Center at their San Jose campus. The Life Connections Health Center is an on-campus wellness site, for their employees and dependents, with services ranging from primary medical care to health and fitness. So, to be clear, Cisco offers many health services at the center in addition to vision. Cisco made it clear that they were going to move forward with the optical center with or without VSP. Coincidentally, their contract was coming up for renewal. To retain the contract and continue to deliver the majority of the 17,000+ patients to member doctors, VSP agreed to partner with them—a partnership that was the first of its kind for VSP.

Historically, 94% of patients under VSP contracts end up in private practice member doctors’ offices. Since the Cisco clinic opened in August 2010, 26,000 claims have been filed by VSP member doctors. 1,000 claims have been filed by the Cisco clinic. Certainly, the majority of Cisco patients have continued to see their private practice member doctor even when given the choice to use the Cisco clinic. Of the 1,000 patients who used the Cisco clinic, only 24% had been to a VSP member doctor in the past three years. The intention was never to take patients away from neighboring VSP practices, but rather, to help meet the needs of an important client. In fact, Cisco employees are still encouraged to visit their current VSP doctor as they have always been.

So, what have we learned from the Cisco clinic and the ongoing Cisco relationship with VSP? First of all, we learned that the needs of the client must be met. The client calls the shots. If VSP receives a similar request from another client, they should consider it if it means retaining the client and continuing to deliver patients into private practice. Second, we learned that the end result has been that the majority of Cisco patients continue to choose their VSP member doctor. Third, we have been reminded that VSP does an outstanding job of promoting private practice and connecting member doctors with their patients. The Cisco clinic does not show deviation from the mission of VSP to deliver patients to private practice...quite the contrary, it shows that VSP is a responsive organization which has the flexibility to meet the needs of a client on behalf of member doctors.

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