What's In a Name?

“Premier” indicator adds additional cachet to an already successful business

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For the owners at Eye Vision Associates in Nesconset, New York, becoming a VSP Global® Premier Program participant was not a difficult decision. “We’ve always been a big Marchon® and Altair® practice,” says Gwen Gnadt, OD, MPH, FAAO, one of the partners. “Those frame lines are a good fit for us. We also use OfficeMate as our practice management system, so when the opportunity to participate in the Premier Program came up, we looked at our numbers and saw that we were already meeting most of the targets,” she says.

The one area where the practice had to adjust was with the Unity® ophthalmic lens products. “Any time you align your practice with a specialty or subspecialty, it’s similar to the considerations when accepting insurance plans. Will it differentiate us?” Dr. Gnadt says the group found there was no downside with the program, and, in fact, adding the Premier Program indicator on the practice’s VSP listing “has a certain connotation of quality with patients. When patients see the indicator on our website and on the VSP doctor directory, it differentiates us as a practice that can provide a lot of value.”

Currently, about 20 percent of the patients who come into the practice are covered by a VSP plan, she says. “It’s a nice income flow for us now and into the future, as we can increase our revenue downstream with more patients who come to us for additional medical services,” she says. “VSP patients come in for routine eye care because it’s covered. If we can wow them and educate them, it provides the practice with an opportunity to develop a pathway to these patients for additional medical eye care and optometric services,” she says. “If they never came in, they wouldn’t know we provide these services.”


Recently, Eye Vision Associates moved to a new location, just two miles away from where it stood for the past 25 years—but in a different ZIP code. The practice, which is 60 years old and had grown to three partners and two associates, was simply too big for the old space. “We were in a medical office park with a dentist, podiatrist and managed care center. Having those disciplines in one office park served us well for a long time, but when we needed more space, it simply wasn’t available,” she says. Now, the practice is in a much larger location, in a freestanding building on a busy street. “Even though we are a heavily based medical practice, patients and passersby can see the optical that’s on the street side,” she says.

That’s very different from the old practice location. When Dr. Gnadt joined the practice 27 years ago, the optical was in a small, back room. “We expanded it over the years a few times, but the optical was never the focal point. Now it is. A patient walks in the front door and is surrounded by the frames,” she says. Existing patients are impressed by the changes, without feeling overwhelmed by them. And new patients appreciate the more modern optical. “We make sure that our Marchon and Altair frames have good visibility. We are able to show our VSP patients frames that qualify for the larger frame allowance with their benefits. They love hearing that,” she says.

Dr. Gnadt serves as one of VSP’s State Professional Representatives, serving as a liaison between VSP network doctors in New York and VSP. “We serve as a resource; VSP is a doctor-governed organization that is focused on providing opportunities for doctors, including increasing access to patients and encouraging those patients to visit VSP network doctors for their eye care and to maximize their benefits.”

It’s important to understand the Premier Program fully, she says, so that doctors and staff can take full advantage of the different financial and marketing benefits of the program. Many may find, like she did, that they’re already operating at or close to Premier Program levels. Why not get the benefits that go along with it?