An Innovative Ophthalmological and Financial Model for People at All Economic Levels

Creating a self-supporting eye care center that serves paying and nonpaying patients equally
    • April 6, 2015

Dates of Project: July 2007 through August 2009

Description: Pacific Vision Foundation laid much of the administrative, legal, and financial groundwork necessary to develop an eye care center, called the Eye Institute, that will provide the same quality of vision care to people of all economic levels, in a way that is self-supporting and that generates sustainable profit margins.

Its model is based on the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, which performed 378,000 surgeries in 2014. Some 50 percent of the care at Aravind is provided to low-income people, either free of charge or below cost, and yet the treatment center is still able to generate surplus revenue.

Key Results

  • The project team created a 22-page business plan detailing the need for the Eye Institute, its organizational structure and operational plan, proposed funding, a risk assessment, and a prospective financial analysis covering the first five years of operation. According to the plan, the institute, which will be housed in a new facility located near the California Pacific Medical Center, will have four main components:

    • A for-profit ambulatory eye surgery center for both patients who have insurance coverage and the uninsured, who are often medically indigent patients
    • A nonprofit clinic for low income patients—affiliated with an ophthalmology residency program, a nonprofit hospital, and the Lions Eye Foundation of California-Nevada—for patients who cannot afford primary eye care
    • Medical office space housing ophthalmologists’ private offices and run on a for-profit basis
    • Educational capacity for training residents both in the practice of ophthalmology and in the medical and business concepts driving the model

  • The project team purchased a building in downtown San Francisco to house the Eye Institute. Rental income from extra space in the building will also help support the Eye Institute.

  • The Eye Institute is to be operational in its new facility in downtown San Francisco by the middle of 2016.

  • RWJF gave the Eye Institute a 10-year $10 million program-related investment to fund building renovation startup costs.

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Eye Institute (San Francisco) to provide high-quality low-cost vision care to people at all economic levels