EyeMed Reports Double Digit Gains in 2012, Plans Business Model Pilot With Essilor in 2013

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EyeMed president Liz DiGiandomenico.
MASON, Ohio—Against the backdrop of reporting 11 percent member growth for 2012, boosting its total membership to more than 33 million funded lives for the year, EyeMed Vision Care, part of the Luxottica Group S.p.A. [NYSE: LUX], is also announcing today plans to enhance its business model in 2013 with a new pilot/test program in partnership with Essilor Laboratories of America (ELOA) “to provide additional benefits to its providers and members.”

“We are proud of the success we have had in 2012 and of our focused commitment on the needs of our diverse network of providers. As a market leader and the fastest growing managed vision care company, we work hard to listen and adapt to the needs of providers and members,” said EyeMed president Liz DiGiandomenico.

EyeMed’s updated business model, which is in early beta testing, is designed, the company said, “to support provider practice growth, simplify administration and retain a wide choice of products and labs.” The pilot model will offer a defined national lab network featuring Essilor Laboratories of America, “giving providers access to a broad and diverse selection of labs across the country.”

“We are pleased to be chosen by EyeMed for its evolving business model and excited by the opportunity to serve EyeMed’s broad network of independent providers,” said John Carrier, president and CEO, Essilor of America, a subsidiary of Paris-based Essilor International (ESSI.PA).

DiGiandomenico told VMail that the pilot will start with 60 labs by the end of January 2013. “The pilot will feature a subset of corporate-owned Essilor of America labs that will be chosen based on the location of the providers selected for the pilot,” she said, adding, “As we grow from 60 to more than 100 labs with Essilor during the test, our expectation is that we will bring in additional labs, depending on the pilot’s results.”

EyeMed stressed that providers will retain the choice of labs within the network within the pilot, be able to change labs at any time and will be offered an option of in-office finishing. Providers will continue to have extensive product choice from top manufacturers, especially among progressive lens designs, the company said. In response to questions from VMail about the products available in the business model pilot, DiGiandomenico said, “Their lab network offers a broad catalog of brands, lens designs and lens treatment options from leading manufacturers, brands such as Essilor, Transitions, Zeiss/SOLA, Shamir, Hoya, Kodak, and timely access to the latest technology including Varilux S series, and Crizal UV. Our catalog will feature 18 of the top 20 progressive designs, more than any other managed vision company.”

Additionally, she explained, a number of online technology improvements are planned in the pilot project, including integration of claims and ordering functions, “to simplify office management so that providers can focus on improving the experience for their patients.” DiGiandomenico also said, “The market is changing, how members and clients receive vision benefits is changing and we need to be dynamic and open to innovation as well. One of the pillars of what we are doing is the simplification of the administration for providers and members. We see the ordering integration and claims management enhancement as a way of streamlining Rx lab orders. We are not changing the member user experience.”

EyeMed’s statement pointed out that the business model pilot has received significant input from the provider community and that the Q1 pilot will be tested with a representative sample covering different geographies, practice types and practice sizes. Findings from the pilot will be evaluated for the final model and national rollout. Full market introduction of the updated model is contingent on completion of the testing phase and is targeted for the third quarter of 2013. DiGiandomenico added, “The pilot is designed to test the business model among what are generally referred to as independent providers who make up the vast majority of our provider network, so that we can ensure it meets their needs. As we move past the pilot phase, we will evaluate how to roll this out across our complete network.”

Reporting its third consecutive year of double-digit growth in 2012, EyeMed added more than 3 million funded lives during the year. The company said it is estimating that it will add 1.5 million additional lives as of Jan 1, 2013. EyeMed said it achieved 96 percent in-network utilization, and a 96 percent member satisfaction rating.

DiGiandomenico noted that EyeMed “soft-launched” online appointment scheduling to its Provider Locator for participating providers on Oct. 15 and is formally introducing the new feature now. It will promote the scheduler to members to further drive utilization. Providers interested in adding online scheduling are offered special pricing from a third-party provider of interactive messaging solutions for the health care industry. The tool can be used on any compatible mobile device.

In addition its 33 million funded lives, EyeMed supports vision discount programs for some of the nation's largest membership and managed care organizations, reaching more than 100 million discount members.