Founded in 2019, The Eye Consortium (TEC) has prided itself on being a “high-level strategy” that can be incorporated to accelerate any practice in any business environment with a focus on independent practices. In 2022, the group experienced large-scale membership growth and took on the challenge of making sure its members continued to be fully supported in order to continue to meet their practice goals.

Robert Chu, OD (l) and Matt Alpert

“In 2022, our biggest challenge was to scale the organization to support and manage our phenomenal membership growth,” said Robert Chu, OD, one of the founders of TEC along with Matt Alpert, OD, both of whom are practicing optometrists. “We met the challenge by reorganizing and scaling up our operational teams. We added key staff with core competencies in business development, vendor relations, marketing and doctor communications. We are now in a prime position to support our growing member base.”

TEC believes that practice differentiation and the patient experience are keys to an independent and profitable practice. Thus, creating a community of like-minded business people allows the group to curate a specialized group of vendors, focus on maintaining a unique environment, while increasing profitability.

In 2022, TEC built upon their partnership with Carl Zeiss, adding Carl Zeiss Meditec, Inc. as an exclusive medical technology vendor partner. “The relationship with Zeiss Meditec allows TEC members to receive an exclusive special offer,” said Dr. Chu.

TEC, which has approximately 2,200 members in the U.S., also partnered with Alcon in 2002 as its exclusive contact lens consortium partner. Together, TEC and Alcon launched the SHARE+ program at events nationwide to help practitioners achieve increased profitability while featuring innovative new technologies.

At the same time, the past year also presented TEC with its share of challenges besides keeping pace with a growing membership base, including continued consolidation and supply chain issues.

“In 2022, the doctor alliance/buying group landscape again changed forever. We witnessed industry changing consolidation,” said Dr. Alpert. “Previously independent doctor-focused alliance groups were acquired by large vertically integrated companies. Several other doctor alliance groups invested in their own optical laboratories and will be presumably steering their members to use their owned supply chain,” Alpert said.

TEC is free to join with no membership or administrative fees. Practices may opt-in to one or all special offers from the group’s comprehensive suite-of-solutions from consortium vendor partners. The only membership requirements, according to Dr. Alpert, are to subscribe to TEC’s high level philosophy of practice differentiation and the premium patient experience being keys to an independent and profitable practice.

Current vendor partners include Zeiss Vision and Zeiss Meditec, Alcon, Modo Eyewear, Lafont, Capri Optics, OCuSOFT and EyeCarePro.

“TEC’s unwavering focus has always been supporting independents,” said Dr. Alpert. “And 2023 will be no different. TEC’s consortium partners are curated independent companies who never compete directly against independent practices or doctors. We are committed to the future of independent eyecare. Where we spend our money matters.”

Moving forward in 2023, TEC has plans and new programs in place to further enhance its offerings to its membership base, including the announcement of expanded eyewear consortium partners Kering and Bellinger House. “Both Kering and Bellinger represent leading-class offerings to truly differentiate practices,” said Dr. Chu.

Also new in 2023 is a shared services platform, which Chu describes as “a platform to help take away the pain points of running an eyecare business and keep practitioners focused on profitability.” Initial shared services consortium partners include PCS–Practice Compliance solutions and Eye Deal Solutions. TEC is also continuing to expand its key opinion leaders (KOL) network.