Candid Conversations between Optometric Office’s Eric L. Bran and leading optical executives about their product strategies.
James Kirchner, OD, President and CEO of SynergEyes, Inc. joined the company as Senior Vice President of Clinical and Professional Relations in 2012 and was promoted to his current leadership position in July 2013. Prior to joining SynergEyes, James, who in 2008 received the Nebraska Optometric Association’s “Distinguished Service Award” for lifetime achievement on behalf of the profession, was Chief Professional Officer for Eyefinity/OfficeMate. Here he talks about what sets SynergEyes apart.
Eric L. Bran: What makes your company different from other specialty lens manufacturers?
James Kirchner: Two things really set us apart. The first is our technology. No other contact lens company can deliver the vision of a rigid lens and the comfort of a soft lens with unrivaled centration. Our hybrid platform enables us to do that, whether the patient is an everyday astigmat or someone with an irregular or diseased cornea.
The second thing is our commitment to the independent eyecare professional (ECP). As an optometrist who spent 33 years in private practice, I understand the needs of my colleagues and their patients. I know the rigors and challenges of independent practice and I am committed to making SynergEyes a company that exists to be a partner to the independent ECP.
ELB: You’ve added another OD to your staff: Dr. Peg Achenbach. Can you explain her role?
JK: The addition of Dr. Achenbach to the SynergEyes team as Vice President of Professional Services provides greater optometric influence within the company as we work to transform SynergEyes into a true partner of the independent eyecare professional. Her responsibilities include representing SynergEyes to the ECP community, developing programs to capture the voices of various key opinion leaders, and increasing the company’s presence and support within the profession.
ELB: Any other changes you expect for the company going forward in 2014?
JK: We are, by our new culture, a company that embraces change. We have new product line extensions being readied for release in 2014. Additionally, we have identified a couple of new projects in our R&D that we will advance later in the year. Moving forward, we are planning growth of the company through both organic and acquisition activity.
ELB: SynergEyes launched the UltraHealth lens for irregular corneas and keratoconus one year ago. How well have doctors made the switch from prior designs to this new advanced lens?
JK: The SynergEyes second-generation lenses have proven to be an immense improvement in design and function compared to our first-generation products. The “switch” to these products by our customers is going very well. Once an ECP discovers the tremendous advantages to the enhanced designs and materials of the second-generation products, the move to use them to fit new patients is immediate. The challenge for us is to expediently bring this understanding to all of our loyal customers and the industry at large.
ELB: What advice do you have to practitioners who are hesitant to fit SynergEyes or specialty lenses because of their advanced designs and that they take more chair time?
JK: The first and most important piece of advice I can give my colleagues is to tell them to forget everything they know about SynergEyes lenses of the past. Our second-generation lenses, Duette and UltraHealth, are made of wonderful new materials for ultra-high Oâ‚‚ penetration, but it’s the completely new designs that make the lenses so much easier to fit and dramatically increases the patient success and satisfaction.