CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 · J Acad Ophthalmol 2017; 09(01): e7-e12
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1602768
Research Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Impact of Satellite Practices on Academic Ophthalmology Departments

Irene C. Kuo
1  Department of Ophthalmology, Wilmer Eye Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
Scott M. Wright
2  Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

15 September 2016

27 March 2017

Publication Date:
16 May 2017 (online)


Background A recent small study described how “satellite” clinics (off-site and strategically situated) associated with six academic ophthalmology departments provided expansion opportunities, and also created unique challenges.

Objectives The aim of this study was to gather a wider viewpoint by surveying chairpersons about their opinions of satellite practices, and how these relate to their departmental mission.

Research Design Online survey.

Subjects Chairperson members of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology.

Results More than 60% of respondents had satellite practices affiliated with their departments. Most departments had two to five satellite practices; 33% had satellites that were located further than 50 miles away from the main hospital. On average, satellites accounted for 25 to 30% of total patient visits for the department. Departments whose satellites accounted for 50% or more of total patient visits to the department were those with the largest clinical volumes (>100,000 annual patient visits). Comprehensive ophthalmology was the most common service offered at satellites. All Chairs believed satellite practices had at least maintained, if not improved, their departments' reputation. Seventy percent were concerned about perceived competition with referring community doctors. Research endeavors and trainee education were not considered to be priorities of satellite practices.

Conclusion Overall, chairpersons in the United States believed that satellite practices had strengthened their departments. The geographical expansion of departments, particularly with comprehensive ophthalmology (inclusive of optometric services), has implications for relations with the referral base in the surrounding communities. Thoughtful management of these practices, with attention paid to both meeting financial goals as well as fulfilling the academic mission, is necessary to ensure that the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.