With a member base exceeding 3,000 independent optometrists, IDOC is a well-established organization working to provide independent eyecare professionals a competitive advantage through industry-leading vendor savings programs, expert guidance from admired consultants and unique networking opportunities with peers and thought leaders. With IDOC as an ally, independent optometric practice owners can “discover their full potential and build the practice of their dreams,” the organization noted.

These ideas resonated with independent ODs during the past 15 to 18 months of COVID-19 challenges. During this time, IDOC welcomed more than 300 new independent practices to its alliance, which Dave Brown, president and CEO, attributes to IDOC’s ability to provide members a tremendous value, No. 1 member satisfaction ratings, data-driven insights, strong vendor relationships and new innovative offerings.

“Our members came through the pandemic well, by and large, and rebounded quickly, too, but of course there were many difficult moments,” he noted. “IDOC took a ‘people-first’ approach in the pandemic. We waived membership dues in April and May, 2020, during the darkest days for independent owners. We provided ongoing resources and information to all optometrists—and not just our members.”

He added, “We provided in-depth knowledge on government policies and HR information helping members make informed decisions.”

During the pandemic, IDOC found that frequent and clear communication with members and others was critical. Indeed, the organization was named a certified “Great Place to Work.” The communication efforts were built around the idea of keeping top of mind the needs of the customer and delivering in ways to assist them with those needs.

IDOC had, and still has, “an unwavering belief that eyecare—and independent ODs—will come through the challenges and rebound quickly,” Brown said. The goal is to be ready to take advantage of the new behaviors and adjoining opportunities that the pandemic caused, including telemedicine or e-commerce/direct ship to patients’ homes.

Earlier this year, the group’s annual national conference, IDOC Connection, took place for the first time via a virtual platform that featured general sessions, exhibitor booths, nightly entertainment, and networking opportunities for the more than 1,100 attendees. The three-day online event included continuing education and a roster of noteworthy keynote speakers, among other features.

Looking ahead, IDOC believes that doctors will need assistance with a variety of business functions in order to continue their recovery from the depths of the pandemic. Brown said, “What we’ve seen over the past year is that doctors continue to need help running the business of their practice. We’ve been a leader in expert consulting for years, but now more than ever owners need help doing the work as well.

That’s why we have launched services like IDOC Social Media, IDOC HR Now and IDOC Insider—to help practices free up time and get the support they need to focus on patient care and growing their business. And we will continue to offer new services to meet the needs of independent practices,” Brown said.

Another key focus of the organization will be innovation. The alliance expects to announce several new services coming online in the next few months. And for ECPs thinking of opening a new independent practice, IDOC has a tailored program called “IDOC Kickstart” in which it will share internally developed expertise to better position the start-up ECP for success.

“Independent practices need help running their [offices]—from optical to marketing to HR and beyond,” Brown said. “That is why IDOC has launched services to help them grow their business by taking on the execution of certain necessary elements for the practice. IDOC will do this for the practice.”

Among the recent enhancements and new services IDOC has launched for its members are: a major update to IDOC Insider, the advanced data and analytics tool introduced as an IDOC membership benefit in 2019; and IDOC HR Now, a comprehensive HR management service.

IDOC HR Now, powered by ThinkHR, offers unlimited on-demand access to legal forms, standardized templates and HR experts fully qualified to address topics that include FMLA, COVID-19, investigations, wages, workers comp, employee handbooks, and legal and state-specific compliance requirements.

All of these innovations, communication services and enhanced services roll up under the umbrella of driving growth, the key priority moving forward for the organization. “IDOC continues to grow, and we have healthy plans for the long term,” Brown said. “We will be expanding our service offerings, providing even more support to independent optometrists. And we expect to continue to welcome growth-oriented independent OD owners to IDOC membership at a rapid rate.”