At iCare Advisors, we are committed to private practice. We are young, dynamic leaders in our profession that understand the unique challenges that new graduates face. We understand and have lived with the financial burdens of exorbitant student loan debt. We have personally overcome these challenges to start successful private practices nationwide and enjoy advising young optometrists on how to reach their ultimate goal of private practice ownership.
Dr. Eric Baas
CO-FOUNDER | PRINCIPAL ADVISOR
Dr. Robert Steinmetz
CO-FOUNDER | PRINCIPAL ADVISOR
Dr. Kristin O’Brien
DIRECTOR OF BRAND DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING
Dr. Audrey Raley
DIRECTOR OF TRAINING AND LAUNCH SUPPORT
Dr. Julie Grove
DIRECTOR OF MANAGED CARE STRATEGY
Dr. Nana Owusu
DIRECTOR OF CANADIAN OPERATIONS
OPTICAL AND EYEWEAR SPECIALIST
EXECUTIVE CLIENT COORDINATOR
CLIENT SUPPORT AND INSURANCE SPECIALIST
Dr. Eric BaasCo-Founder/Principal Advisor
Dr. Eric Baas is the Co-Founder and Principal of iCare Advisors as well as the co-owner of five Solo Eye Care locations in Chicago and seven Union Eyes locations in the Chicagoland area. He is also the Practice Management Curriculum Coordinator at the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) where he teaches the Business of Optometry course and Private Practice Simulator elective. Dr. Baas graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in biological sciences. He then earned his Doctorate of Optometry degree from ICO and went on to complete a residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Illinois Eye Institute.
Upon finishing residency, Dr. Baas continued to work as a clinical instructor at the Illinois College of Optometry while simultaneously working at a private practice in a busy metropolitan area of Chicago. Dr. Baas started his first practice cold after multiple unsuccessful attempts at private practice acquisition following residency. He has since gone on to successfully open cold eight additional times in the Chicagoland area.
A few years after his first cold start, he was named Chief of the Rosenbloom Center at the Illinois Eye Institute and played an integral role in the design, development, and operation of the state-of-the-art 5000 square foot clinic dedicated to the eye care needs of the aging population and visually impaired.
In addition to teaching practice management at ICO, Dr. Baas is actively involved with the Private Practice Club and is a member of the Association of Practice Management Educators whose primary mission is to create and share practice management resources across all schools and colleges of optometry. He is also the 2016 Young Alumnus of the Year at the Illinois College of Optometry. Dr. Baas brings extensive knowledge and experience in practice management and starting cold with a focus on financing, location analysis, lease negotiation, and practice design and construction to the iCare Advisors team.
Dr. Robert SteinmetzCO-FOUNDER | PRINCIPAL
Dr. Robert Steinmetz is the Co-Founder and Principal of iCare Advisors and the co-owner of five SoLo Eye Care locations in Chicago and seven Union Eyes locations in the Chicagoland area. Dr. Steinmetz graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame and earned his Doctorate of Optometry degree as a cum laude graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry.
Upon graduation, Dr. Steinmetz opened a private practice cold in a highly competitive area with no assets or loan co-signers despite having one of the highest student loan debt totals in his class. He completed this successful process again two years later in a commercialized market in downtown Chicago and has since opened an additional eight cold start practices in the Chicagoland area. His story has been featured in Review of Optometry and told through numerous lectures to private practice clubs around the country.
Dr. Bob is the 2006 Illinois Young Optometrist of the Year, the 2015 Illinois Optometrist of the Year, a past trustee in the Illinois Optometric Association, a former board member of the Illinois College of Optometry, a member of the American Optometric Association and a member of the Illinois Optometric Association PAC Board. Dr. Steinmetz is a frequent lecturer on private practice profitability while also mentoring students as an adjunct professor at the Illinois College of Optometry.
Dr. Steinmetz brings a broad knowledge of optometric equipment selection to maximize the return on investment for cold starts in various modes of practice. Each of his own private practice settings is unique and caters to the needs of the demographics in each community. His specialties include third party insurance profitability maximization, ethical billing and coding, and maximizing profit from in-office finishing.
Dr. Kristin O’BrienDirector of Brand Development and Marketing
Dr. Kristin S. O’Brien is the Director of Brand Development and Marketing for iCare Advisors and the owner of Denver Eye Care & Eyewear Gallery in Denver, North Carolina. Dr. O’Brien graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in applied biology and earned her Doctorate of Optometry degree from the Michigan College of Optometry in 2013.
Days after obtaining her license, Dr. O’Brien opened her first private practice cold with the help of two optometry mentors. The story of her unique cold start platform was featured in Women of Optometry, the Vision Source Gazette. In 2019, Dr. O’Brien sold her practice in Colorado to move with her family to Denver, North Carolina. She opened her second cold-start private practice in 2021 without partners, during a pandemic while 7 months pregnant. She used the iCare Advisors’ playbook for her second “warm” start and grew her practice three times faster than her first cold start even though she opened with less square footage.
Dr. O’Brien is the 2018 recipient of the Pacesetter Alumni Award from Ferris State University, the 2017 Colorado Young Optometrist of the Year, the International Vision Council 2016 Next Generation Innovator, and the 2013 recipient of the Marchon Practice Management Award. Dr. O’Brien is an active member of the American Optometric Association, the past-president of the Colorado Optometry Young Professional Club, and the current Young OD Committee Chair for the North Carolina Optometric Association. Dr. Kristin was appointed to the Optometric Management magazine editorial board in 2022. She also serves on the advisory board for several optometric industry leaders and is a regular lecturer for both students and doctors.
It’s because of Dr. O’Brien’s passion for promoting private practice and inspiring the next generation of optometrists to pursue their cold start practice dreams that she was invited to join the iCare Advisors team in 2017. She brings experience in marketing, human resources, and metrics-based tools to help doctors grow their practice.
Dr. Audrey RaleyDirector of Training and Launch Support
Dr. Audrey Raley is the Director of Training and Launch Support for iCare Advisors and guides clients through the initial on-boarding and launch of their cold-start practices. She is the owner and founder of Refined Eye Care & Eyewear Gallery in New Braunfels, Texas. Dr. Raley graduated with honors from Texas A&M University in biomedical sciences and is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry.
She was introduced to iCare Advisors by one of her optometry mentors and was able to open cold by following their method in less than two years after graduation. As a former highly successful client, she was hand-picked to aid clients in maximizing the resources provided by iCare Advisors and support them on their journey to profitability.
Dr. Raley is an active member in the Texas Optometry Association as well as the American Optometric Association. She is the San Antonio Leader for the Young ODs of America and enjoys mentoring students and young doctors.
As a former client who has successfully completed the iCare Advisors strategic cold start process, Dr. Raley provides a unique perspective to the iCare team and their clients. Dr. Audrey’s passion for private practice success is contagious. She brings valuable insights into profitability, EHR customization, in-office finishing strategies, chair-side prescribing tactics and cold start metrics.
Dr. Julie GroveDirector of Managed Care Strategy
Dr. Julie Grove is the Director of Managed Care Strategy for iCare Advisors. She is owner of 21 North Eyecare in Valparaiso, Indiana and co-owner of Crown Point Eye Care in Crown Point, Indiana. Dr. Grove graduated cum laude from Butler University and received her Doctorate of Optometry from the Illinois College of Optometry. She completed residency training in ocular disease at the Boston Veterans Affairs Hospital, West Roxbury campus, and previously served as Attending Optometrist at Manchester VAMC, the Illinois Eye Institute, and the Chicago VAMC.
Dr. Grove is a member of the Indiana and American Optometric Associations, a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry, and a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry. She is the Chair of the Communications Committee of the Glaucoma Section of the Academy, and serves on the Admittance Committee.
Dr. Grove has a unique perspective on cold start practices having opened one office independently and another office with the guidance of iCare Advisors. She has an extensive background in analytics and has designed several customizable profitability calculators to maximize insurance reimbursement and contact lens revenue. Dr. Grove is constantly developing tools to simplify optical transactions through bundling and videos to help train new practice owners and staff.
Dr. Nana OwusuDirector of Canadian Operations
Dr. Nana Owusu was born in Ontario and raised in Alberta. He has opened four cold start clinics in Canada and currently operates four Prairie Eye Care clinics in Manitoba and one private practice in Alberta. He holds a degree in Microbiology from University of Alberta, a degree in Health Studies from McMaster University, and a Doctorate degree from the Illinois College of Optometry. While at ICO, Dr. Owusu received numerous awards and honors including the American Optometric Foundation Carl Zeiss Vision Fellowship, the Cribb Leadership & Service Award, and the American Optometric Leadership Scholarship all while serving in his role as the President of the student body.
While practicing in America, Dr. Owusu was an adjunct clinical advisor for the ICO Externship Program at a contact lens-based family practice in Florida. Dr. Owusu's current professional affiliations include the Gold Key International Honor Society, the Manitoba Association of Optometrists, the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Florida Optometric Association, and the American Optometric Association.
Dr. Owusu is an active member of the Illinois College of Optometry Board of Trustees and is proud to serve as President of the ICO Alumni Council. Locally, he is an active member of the Manitoba Association of Optometrists and was honored as the 2020 Optometrist of the Year. He brings Canadian specific cold start knowledge to the iCare Advisors team including financing, location analysis, practice management and proven Canadian specific profitability strategies.
Michael BullardOptical and Eyewear Specialist
Michael is the Optical and Eyewear Specialist for iCare Advisors having joined the team in 2015. He is certified optician with over 20 years of experience in the optical industry. Michael has been personally involved in starting eight cold start private practices and has consulted on over 150 cold start opticals across the country.
He specializes in finding the right frame brands that work perfectly to complement each client’s mission and demographic. He is drawn toward unique, independent lines and values quality and craftsmanship. Michael has an extraordinary ability to select frames that enhance a patient’s look by accentuating their bone structure and facial features and loves sharing his frame styling strategies with clients.
He is patient and enjoys spending time with each client to personally walk them through their inventory selection and frame buying experience. He has extensive knowledge of fashion brands, alliance discounts, frame markup strategies and bulk purchases to maximize the client’s budget and meet their pro forma goals. He enjoys interacting with opticians in the field and remotely to help clients properly file claims and select proper copays for third party insurances. Michael also has a vast technical background that includes a broad knowledge of computer networking, security and hardware suggestions.
Amanda BullardExecutive Client Coordinator
Amanda Bullard is the Executive Client Coordinator for iCare Advisors. She has been an integral part of the team since its inception, and she is passionate about the logistical side of private practice creation. Amanda performs the initial onboarding for each client to ensure streamlined communication and project coordination.
She brings over 15 years of customer service and managerial experience to her role and is referred to as the ‘glue’ that holds the team together. Amanda is responsible for monitoring all client communication. You will often find her responding to late night Slack and email messages with professionalism and unparalleled detail.
Amanda is often the clients first point of contact. She serves as the liaison between the team and many of iCare Advisor’s vendors, affiliates, and clients. She is involved in all aspects of the client’s project and takes pride in being part of a team that excels in prioritizing exceptional patient care while ensuring private practice profitability through education and ethical insurance maximization. Amanda also enjoys assisting with developing tools that clients can utilize within their practice to effectively implement iCare strategies and increase efficiency.
Jennifer PankowClient Support and Insurance Specialist
Jennifer Pankow is the Client Support and Insurance Specialist for iCare Advisors. She earned her degree in Medical Assisting from Robert Morris College and then completed her Paraoptometric Certification with Indiana University.
Jen has been immersed in the optical industry for over 25 years, joining the iCare Advisors team as a consultant in the spring of 2018. She has worked in private practices for her entire career including eight cold starts and several multi-million-dollar practices. She also has experience working with established practices on relocations and transitions in ownership.
Jen has held multiple positions within private practice including roles as an optometric technician, an optician, and an office manager. She understands the complex dynamics that play a role in creating an office culture that drives a unique, positive patient experience.
Jen offers decades of expertise in credentialing, billing and coding, medical and vision insurance plans, and working with numerous electronic medical record systems. She is well versed in virtual technology and enjoys working with clients and their staff solving in-office problems in real time.