3 Tips to Build a Thriving Medical Optometry Practice with Dr. Kyle Klute

Optometrists play a pivotal role in the rapidly evolving field of medical optometry, which is dedicated to advancing eye health and vision care through the integration of technology and healthcare policies. Unlike many optometry education groups focusing solely on specific aspects of practice growth, Dr. Kyle Klute takes a holistic approach to developing a thriving medical optometry practice that encompasses crucial elements such as ocular disease management, appropriate billing and coding, and the integration of vision and medical insurance. Dr. Kyle Klute, an experienced optometrist with a wealth of knowledge in medical optometry, shares his top three tips for building a successful medical optometry practice.

Three Tips to Build a Medical Optometry Practice
Dr. Kyle Klute, Founder and Lead Optometrist of Good Life Eyecare and Eyecode Education Consultant

Below is a transcript of the podcast interview. Please note that the transcript has been slightly modified for clarity and brevity, ensuring a smoother reading experience while retaining the essence and integrity of the original conversation.

Dr. Kyle Klute’s Journey in Eyecare

Dr. Darryl Glover:

Before we dive in, I like to get to know my guests. Could you share your background, family, where you’re from, your education, and maybe a fun fact? We love fun facts.

Dr. Kyle Klute:

Of course, I’ve got an engaging, fun fact for you. Starting with the basics, I’m a farm kid from central Nebraska, a small town of 400 people. My high school class had just 16 graduates. I attended the University of Nebraska for my undergraduate studies, majoring in meteorology and climatology. Yes, it was quite a shift in career paths for me. I even chased storms and have seen my fair share of tornadoes.

However, my career trajectory shifted when a close family friend, who owned a private practice in Lincoln, Nebraska, introduced me to optometry. I worked as an optician before attending the Illinois College of Optometry and then completed a residency at a VA hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. My initial goal post-residency was to focus on medical optometry, avoiding basic refractive care as much as possible. However, over time, my approach evolved. I now own two practices, Good Life Eyecare, one in West Omaha and another in a small town in Iowa, focusing on comprehensive care and embracing the full spectrum of our profession’s capabilities.

Cultivating a Culture of Care in Optometry

Dr. Darryl Glover:

I admire your commitment to culture, both within your team and with your patients. Can you share where this emphasis on culture and core values comes from?

Dr. Kyle Klute:

That’s a thoughtful question. Reflecting on it, I believe it stems from my upbringing in a small, close-knit community and being part of a pioneer family. Although I was the first to choose a path different from farming, the values of community support and tradition have stayed with me. In my practices, especially in suburban West Omaha, I aim to replicate that small-town hospitality vibe. Our first core value is precisely that: “small-town hospitality.” It’s about treating patients as neighbors and fostering a welcoming community atmosphere.

In today’s world, where disconnection is typical, we strive to create meaningful connections with our patients, offering care that goes beyond eye health. We prioritize hiring naturally empathetic staff capable of forming genuine connections, focusing on personality over prior experience.

Medical Optometry Tip #1: Ocular Disease Management

Dr. Darryl Glover:

Let’s dive into the topic of ocular disease management. How do you approach building a medical model within your practice?

Dr. Kyle Klute:

My journey into primary care highlighted my desire to integrate various specialties under one roof, rather than focusing on a single area. I view these services not as specialties but as comprehensive care offerings. Whether fitting a child with myopia control lenses or managing a patient with keratoconus with scleral lenses, the goal is to provide the best evidence-based care available. I advocate for incorporating advanced treatments, like IPL for dry eye, within the primary care setting. This approach allows us to offer a full spectrum of care, pushing the boundaries of what is traditionally expected in primary care optometry.

Medical Optometry Tip #2: Integration of Vision and Medical Insurance Mindset

Dr. Darryl Glover:

Billing and coding are essential for sustaining our practices financially.

Dr. Kyle Klute:

Transitioning to this topic underscores a critical aspect of our profession: the financial viability of our practices. Ensuring accurate billing and coding is fundamental for our livelihoods and the sustainability of our services. It enables us to continue offering high-quality care, support our staff, invest in new technologies, and care for our families. Understanding and correctly applying medical and vision billing codes are crucial for maximizing our practices’ potential and ensuring we can continue to serve our communities effectively.

Medical Optometry Tip #3: Navigating the Complexities of Billing and Coding

Dr. Kyle Klute:

In terms of metrics, undercoding is a common issue we address. One key performance indicator (KPI) we examine is the ratio of level three to level four codes, ideally around 1 to 1.5. This ratio reflects appropriate service level coding, indicating a balanced approach to patient care complexity and the corresponding billing. Unfortunately, many practices exhibit a ratio of five to fifteen times more level three codes than level four, significantly impacting their revenue.

Addressing this disparity is a foundational step in practice consulting. By aligning the ratio closer to the ideal, practices not only capture the full value of their services but also lay the groundwork for implementing comprehensive care protocols across various conditions. This realization fosters a deeper appreciation for the significance of our work and its impact on patient care and practice sustainability.

Empowering Practices with Eyecode Education

Dr. Kyle Klute:

We cover the top seven to eight chronic conditions we’ll encounter in primary care or comprehensive optometry. Additionally, we offer a course on 99 versus 92 billing and coding to assist those struggling with billing and coding. Beyond online courses, we believe in real improvement and engagement. That’s why, as part of Comprehensive Optometry Simplified, you’ll have online access to Chris Wolfe and me for coaching. You can ask questions anytime through a message board, and we also host a monthly mastermind group meeting for all members.

This 60 to 90-minute session is like office hours, where we can exchange ideas and receive protocol feedback. It’s pretty engaging, and we’ve seen a lot of interest from practices and doctors already. We’re officially launching at the end of this month and in May, moving forward with great enthusiasm for this opportunity.

Dr. Darryl Glover:

Fantastic. And there’s also a downloadable resource available, right? Would you mind sharing that with our listeners and followers?

Dr. Kyle Klute:

Yes, indeed. I previously mentioned the KPIs critical for your practice’s growth. We have a free and easily accessible PDF on our website, EyeCode Education, detailing the top nine KPIs for evaluating your practice. We encourage you to download it and take a moment to run your numbers. The process should take about 10-15 minutes but can significantly impact your awareness and approach to practice management. The ultimate KPIs we focus on are revenue per OD hour and the ratio of 99 codes to refractions, aiming for a 50-80% ratio.

This indicates how well you’ve integrated medical care into your comprehensive management. Achieving this range means you could potentially make managed vision care optional. While I haven’t dropped managed vision care, since my numbers are above 50%, I still find it an effective marketing tool for attracting new patients. There’s a current debate on the value of managed vision care. Understanding these KPIs can empower you to make informed decisions about their role in your practice regardless of where you stand.

Establishing a thriving medical optometry practice requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond clinical expertise. It involves a deep commitment to ocular disease management, efficient billing and coding, and the skillful integration of vision and medical insurance, with a nuanced understanding of billing codes. Dr. Kyle Klute’s strategic insights provide a roadmap to success in medical optometry, emphasizing the importance of continuous education, technological investment, and a patient-centered approach. Following these tips will enable ODs to advance their practices significantly, contribute to the field of medical optometry, and deliver superior patient care.

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