Joel Hunter, MD Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 10/13/17 7:15 AM
I’ve had a lifelong inability to negotiate. A couple of times, when traveling internationally for a missions trip, there’s been a stop at a local street market. These places are famous for haggling. It goes very poorly. Well, poorly for me, to be exact. I’m very popular with the local vendors by the time I leave. Every note of local currency is gone, my shoes are gone, and in return I now own of a bag of rice and a stick.
With vision correction, there’s not really a haggling or negotiating process because the cost of doing everything at the highest level forbids it. And that’s exactly why we’ve set up our practice the way we have. The doctors have 0% to do with the cost of the procedure, mainly to prevent me specifically from sending us into bankruptcy within the span of a week or two.
When I said I’m bad at negotiating, I mean really bad. To make up numbers for an example: if a procedure costs the practice $4,000 just in equipment and staffing, I would easily be haggled down to $10. I’d smugly point out to the people in charge of our accounting, “You’ll notice, I’m sure, that I still have both of my shoes.” And this is the genuine reason we have the financial side of our practice separated entirely from the medical decision-making process.
The doctors at Hunter Vision are not incentivized to up-sell
The doctors that work at Hunter Vision are purposefully not incentivized by what procedure they’re performing. While the practice of separating money and medicine started with me as a necessity, we realized it was helpful for other reasons as we grew. We never want the choice of procedure, or the decision to wait on a procedure, to be subconsciously influenced by a financial reward. It has two benefits:
1) The honesty about what procedure would be best and when is pure and uninfluenced.
2) The only doctors that want to operate at Hunter Vision are the type who really like operating more than they care about the money.
We get to avoid creepy, sales-guy doctors by the clean process of natural selection.
So, in summary, our surgeons aren’t incentivized to choose procedures that are more expensive. While I’d like to say it is only because of moral courage, the more honest answer is I hate talking about money almost as much as I like fixing eyeballs. In order to keep our doors open to be able to fix eyeballs, which we’re very good at, we had to put a firm barrier in place to keep me from sales, which I am maybe the worst at in all the world. Definitely the worst in the places in the world where those street markets are.