We had the good fortune of connecting with Maziar Lalezary and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maziar, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started my own business as a solo retina specialist in 2015 after working for a group practice. My motivation was to have more control of my medical practice. I currently run a successful boutique practice providing cutting edge, personalized care to the community.
What should our readers know about your business?
I started my practice after working for a large group of doctors. While I was able to provide excellent patient care, there were influences that took some decision making out of my hands. I was forced to see more patients in a limited amount of time. I went against the grain; while most doctors flock to work for the larger medical groups, universities, corporate-run entities and likes of Kaiser, I started a solo practice dubbed Doctor Retina – Your Retina Specialist. Various forces in the field of medicine have made it such that the “mom and pop” small-scale businesses have a hard time competing. One major shift has been regulations to convert to costly electronic medical record systems. While the shift is beneficial for patient care, it is financially viable at scale thus raising the operating costs of small medical practices. Further, federal mandates and regulations for reporting quality measures of care have increased the labor demands for medical practices. This again is more sustainable at scale in a large group. With growth into larger groups come consolidation, which has slowly led to the large healthcare organizations (ie, Kaiser, UCLA, USC) muscling their way into communities and negotiating exclusive contracts with insurances. Once these large groups have exclusivity, patients are left with limitations on where they can seek care. Next, the large groups are forced to increase the volume of patient encounters to justify their investment and reap financial returns. These interests are not always aligned with patient care as doctors no longer make the decisions. For instance, advertising budgets may increase instead of investment into upgraded medical equipment; reason being, advertising brings in more patients, but the imaging device that was built in the 1980s still functions and upgrading will not bring in higher profits. My motivation to start a boutique solo practice was to provide personalized care that was cutting edge, efficient and accessible to the community. My field is ultra-specialized – I deal with a microscopic segment of the eye with a limited number of providers. Additionally, several conditions that I treat represent ocular emergencies including retinal detachment, etc. As the providers consolidate into the large corporate medical entities, patient choices become limited and access to certain patients becomes compromised. And once patients gain access to a specialist, the wait times increase as their patient volume is high (50-80 patients per day) to sustain profit margins. My practice has grown rapidly despite being a solo provider. Through careful planning and design of the practice, it is built to function more efficiently and more technologically advanced as the large groups. The community has embraced the practice and helped its growth through word of mouth. By delivering efficient, cutting-edge care the practice has built a reputation for excellent specialized care with a personal touch. We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you? No. Many insurances are exclusive to large groups and will not allow their patients to access our office. So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Doctor Retina story. Tell us more about the business. Dr. Lalezary is a board-certified ophthalmologist, fellowship trained and specialized in the care of macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment surgery, uveitis, cataract complications and other medical and surgical conditions affecting the eyes.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
When I was exploring my options, I had everyone around me giving me advise. My family, mentors and friends offered a lot of good support and advise. One pivotal source of guidance was from a blog written by Ho Sun Choi, M.D. He documented his journey of starting his practice and shared numerous tips and tricks for all those that were interested in taking the same path. To this day, the group that he formed continue to communicate and give each other support and share information about running a medical practice.