Dr. Mark Owens, a Paducah optometrist and president of Eye Care Associates, has had a clear view of the changing field of optometry – as a whole and right in Paducah – during his years of practice. As one of the founders of Eye Care Associates, the group’s innovative ideas on practitioner integration have made Eye Care Associates a modern day business model.
“I was born and raised in the field of optometry,” explains Dr. Owens. “My father was an optometrist n Fulton, and it is all I’ve ever known.” After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and optometric degree from the Southern College of Optometry, Owens joined his father’s practice. Then in 1984, Owens moved to Paducah; after several years of regular practice, he developed Doctor’s Vision Center alongside partners and friends Drs. Ken Grogan and David Tucker. Their idea of an integrated eye care group took shape, and Eye Care Associates was born in 1998.
“Eye Care Associates is an eye care network that consists of multiple independent eye care providers that have merged to provide the public with affordable and exceptional service,” says Dr. Owens. The group’s inception was rooted in the economy of scale.
“We believed that by combining as a group, we could get more people’s attention, especially the attention of vendors,” explains Dr. Owens. “With this amalgamation of several practitioners, customers are able to get better deals on lenses and contacts, and save on healthcare costs.” Now, with locations in Paducah, Benton, Calvert City, Mayfield and Murray, Eye Care Associates has evolved to a group with 60 employees alongside dedicated optometrists and ophthalmologists. The group boasts over 200 years of combined experience.
In an age where cutting-edge technology makes a considerable difference in business and medical matters, the team at Eye Care Associates successfully incorporates modern advances into their offices, says Dr. Mark Owens. “We have been very diligent about staying up-to-date with technology. All of our records are electronic and connected. For example, if a patient visits one of our Murray offices, we can pull up that record in our Paducah office too.” In addition to electronic records, the group utilizes surgical and exam technology such as retinal scanners. “The spoke of optometry is expanding,” says Dr. Owens. “My dad still comes to my office and marvels at what technology lets us do.”
Along with technology, Dr. Owens explains that a new opportunity to expand services will now change how optometrists practice their specialty. Earlier this year, the Kentucky legislature passed “The Better Access to Quality Eye Care Bill” in Frankfort. The bill allows Kentucky optometrists to perform several in-office procedures that at this time can only be performed by an opthalmologist.
Dr Owens has seen many evolutions in his practice and has developed new partnerships with the formation of Eye Care Associates. In addition, he has found a new group of colleagues within Paducah Bank as well. “We began banking with Paducah Bank two years ago,” says Dr. Owens. “We had the same philosophy on how we wanted to do our business. Paducah Bank really does what they say they’re going to do. They put out a hometown-type product, and that means a lot to those of us who work in this community,” he remarks.