When VSP Vision announced the acquisition of Professional Eyecare Associates of America (PECAA) last fall, it was independent eyecare professionals that benefitted the most, according to Johnathan Worrall, who took over as president of PECAA in January of this year. PECAA continues to operate independently from VSP Vision and, executives noted, from VSP Vision’s Premier Program.

Johnathan Worrall (l) and Justin Manning, OD

“When PECAA and VSP Vision joined forces last year, it was a strategic opportunity to unite the industry’s two largest supporters of independent eyecare professionals,” Worrall told Vision Monday. “PECAA now has the support of VSP Vision which allows us to expand the services and resources we provide to independent eyecare professionals in a way that we could not have done on our own.”

PECAA was founded in 2006 by three independent ODs in the Pacific Northwest looking for ways to better serve the independent eyecare community. Over the years, PECAA has become a leading alliance organization in vision care, hosting hundreds of local/regional networking opportunities nationwide. In 2021, PECAA and Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA), a leading buying group, joined forces to create the nation’s largest community of independent ECPs. PECAA now serves more than 12,000 members and provides a comprehensive array of services and solutions in one, simple membership called PECAA Max.

“Last year we introduced PECAA Max, featuring an expanded suite of practice advisory services and educational programs aimed at supporting our members’ practice growth and professional development,” said Justin Manning, OD, MPH, FAAD and chief member experience officer at PECAA. “The Max program allows independent eyecare professionals to take advantage of our industry-leading discount and IncentivEYES rebate programs and the streamlined efficiency of PECAA’s consolidated billing service at no additional cost. Our focus is on helping PECAA members maximize profitability, grow their practices, and access all the tools and resources PECAA Max membership encompasses.”

PECAA Max members have access to more than 250 vendor partners, nationwide peer-to-peer communities, the PECAA annual meeting, and business advisory services, focused on finance, staff training, optical management, operations, billing and coding, and marketing, according to Dr. Manning.

“Over the past year, PECAA’s Member Business Advisor (MBA) team added two new members, specializing in optical management and business operations,” said Dr. Manning. “We launched the Optometric Billing and Coding Certification Program by PECAA in late 2022, and the sold-out inaugural class will graduate in 2023. To support our members in attracting and retaining patients, we also launched PECAA Ads, giving independent eyecare professionals the ability to compete with the biggest players in the industry through digital display ads, remarketing and targeted marketing driven by AI.”

Looking ahead in 2023, Worrall predicts that practices will continue to face significant pressures as they attempt to move their practice forward in challenging economic times. The good news, according to Worrall, is that PECAA will be with them every stop of the way with needed support and services.

“Practices will continue to face significant pressure in 2023. Staffing, training, revenue and cost of goods are challenges independent practices have faced since the pandemic and continue into 2023,” Worrall noted. “In addition, the current state of the economy contributes to additional pressure as economists debate the reality and potential severity of a recession. The good news is private practice is still the preferred patient choice, and PECAA is continuing in its mission to support independents by creating community, growth and economic value for our members.”

In 2023, PECAA will launch a white-labeled, dehydrated amniotic membrane priced below the competition with additional savings for members through the IncentivEYES program, according to Dr. Manning. They also hosted the first marketing training camp for members in February and are “putting the finishing touches” on an optical training course that will be introduced later this year.