Cisco and BP: Meeting Clients Needs...Keeping Our Focus

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO September 12, 2011

In evaluating the worth of a product, whose opinion is more important, the manufacturer or the purchaser? The answer, of course, is the purchaser. And, in choosing among sources for a product, how do you decide who to buy from? We decide based on price and service.

Such is also the case when decisions are made in the managed vision care market. The needs of the client must be met in the areas of both price and service if a contract is to be won.

When VSP® Vision Care wins a managed vision care contract, far more patients accrue to private practice than when retail-biased competitors win. The reason for this is simple: VSP wants patients to go to private-practice doctors and retail-biased competitors want patients to go to their retail stores. It is critical that VSP meet the needs of their clients or they will not win in the marketplace.

In some cases, clients are building medical facilities on their campuses in an effort to mitigate healthcare costs for their workforce. As a VSP client, they are asking VSP for help in building an eyecare office in these complexes and plan to do so with or without VSP’s help.

The first such VSP/client partnership was the Cisco clinic in San Jose, California. In meeting this client need, VSP effectively prevented another retailer from coming in, setting up the clinic, and/or winning the vision plan contract. VSP was able to retain this important client and, based on early returns, the majority of Cisco employees continue to choose their private-practice doctors for eyecare services.

Now, VSP is working with BP in Houston, Texas to build a similar facility at the client’s request. We expect other clients to adopt a similar strategy and seek VSP’s help. VSP will always reach out directly to doctors in the area to discuss such a plan to see if they are interested in participating. It is expected that similar results will be found where many of the patients will continue to choose their private-practice doctors based on historical VSP success in directing patients.

As I see it, the needs of the client determine success in the marketplace. If VSP wins a contract, they intentionally direct the majority of patients to private-practice doctors. If they fail to win a contract, far more patients are directed by competitors to retail stores and away from private practice. I, for one, am happy to see VSP employ market-based adjustments in strategy to improve competitiveness on the behalf of private-practice doctors like me.

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