1099 OD’s make up a large portion of the Optometric population. Older Optometrists, moms, the doctor who chooses not to be nailed down by leases and contracts, etc. make up this workforce.
Practices love this partnership. For example many a sole-practitioner does not have enough patients for 2 full-time OD’s, and sometimes, the sole-practitioner just has to schedule a day off. That’s where the 1099 partnership works.
But there also pitfalls. Undoubtedly, even the most conscientious, part-time doctor is not as committed as the owner. The overwhelming number of these doctors care greatly for their patients and provide the absolute best care that they can to the extent of their ability. However, the nature of contract employment can cause unexpected obstacles.
In my consulting, I have seen one, dominant struggle in the partnership: the number of hours that the 1099 doctor works. Let’s say you contract an OD to work 2 days a week at $450 a day. How many hours must the OD work (defined as seeing patients, primarily comprehensive eye exams)?
Some practices struggle because the 1099 doc doesn’t want to see exams past 4:30 so they can get home. Perhaps they instruct the staff not to schedule comprehensive exams late in the day.
Maybe the doctor comes in after the start of the business day because they work somewhere else. Maybe they don’t get in until 130 (when they should be there at 1:00) because they were caught up seeing another patient at another practice.
Do they still get their full pay? Is that acceptable?
It will be if you aren’t clear.
Remember, the owner is the one who instructs the staff and the doctor as to the patient schedule. Make a clear rule that no one is allowed to change the schedule without proper approval. If this is not clear, you won’t get your money’s worth. Staff will grow confused or frustrated, or worse: lazy. You won’t maximize the benefit of your contracted doctor. And the list goes on and on.
Usually, all that passes in a 1099 relationship is a handshake and a tax form as the partnership can be ended at any point. Whether you decide to write a contract or not is up to you, but nothing will end a friendship or partnership quicker than expectations that are neither communicated not agreed upon. It doesn’t take a lawyer to create a contract. A half page document detailing your expectations singed between the two of you is all that it takes.
But a contracted 1099 doctor understands the expectations and the owner understands their commitment. Protect your staff, your patients, and your professional relationships by making expectations as clear as possible.
Gordon Duncan is the CEO/Consultant of the Prosight Success System and advises Optometrists across the country.
Gordon Duncan is an award-winning educator, salesman, teacher, manager, and writer. He has taught in the public school system, lobbied for school's accreditation, managed eye clinics, led sales' teams, and also publishes books on theology, church, and culture.