What You Need to Know About The OLA

By Corrine Hood
Nothing in life stays the same especially in our business. The optical industry has evolved into something completely different than it once was. In order for the Optical Laboratories Association to be a strong and viable organization, one that can afford to design and offer member services, all factions of the industry need to be represented in the OLA membership and on the Board. What better way to share ideas with all parts of our industry and meld together the best possible scenario for everyone?

Certainly all the independent laboratories, corporate owned, HMO, insurance owned, military and government laboratories can form their own, smaller associations. But to what end? Creating a number of smaller, separate associations would only serve to splinter the current lab association. It would force the manufacturers, who support OLA, to choose which meetings to attend and diminish any monies new associations would have for member services. Those who do not have resources to design their own programs, the people who need and want the most help, stand to lose the most.

One way many laboratories have filled the need to have a meeting more geared to their own business methodology is to form small groups or buying partnerships. This gives each laboratory a more like-minded group and serves to enhance not distract from OLA membership. The small groups give a laboratory a lot of satisfaction but the OLA still serves to fill the broader picture.

The annual OLA meeting is unparalleled. Everything can be seen in one place, comparisons can be made, discussions held with all parts of the industry and feedback received from associates. The annual OLA meeting affords exposure to others with lab issues and offers the perfect venue for sharing experiences particularly for those who do not leave the laboratory very often.

The OLA show gives everyone the opportunity to do business freely without hindrance from their clients at the same show. The programs and procedures that the Association puts together, which laboratories can incorporate into their day-to-day business, are extremely worthwhile. Opportunities for discounts on business insurance, on express shipping and on credit card processing, are all ways that an OLA membership saves a member laboratory money.

The OLA represents the labs’ perspective in the optical industry. Currently, the OLA is combining efforts with the VCA to make parts available along with a technical database for drilled rimless frames. Two other valuable programs coming up are lab performance statistics and remote order entry standards. Other benefits include legal updates, information regarding HIPAA, updated rules for safety prescriptions and a comprehensive drop-ball testing plan. Many laboratories estimate they are in contact with the OLA in some manner on an average of once a month.

It is difficult for the average laboratory to find the time to investigate issues such as the changes in offering incentives with prescription eyeglasses, HIPAA regulations or develops their own marketing tools. That’s where the OLA comes in, providing such items as the Progressive Identifier, The Core of Knowledge Manuals, Credit Reporting, Check Yearly See Clearly Rx Inserts, Lens Menus, ANSI standards, Perspective on Lenses and the Lens Centers.

Most of these items would be cost prohibitive for the small-to-medium size laboratories that comprise the bulk of the current OLA membership.

The OLA is the best place to provide programs to members, none of which is possible without combined financial support. The annual meeting is the number one place to see everything and network with everyone in the industry including those who do business the same as us as well as those who do not. Open lines of communication throughout our industry remains the best way to learn from one another and keep a healthy industry.



Labtalk June 2020