Associated Eye Care Partners News Release

February, 2019


We are pleased to announce the launch of Associated Eye Care Partners (AECP), a management services organization (MSO) specializing in developing, managing, advising and investing in comprehensive eye care services provided by independent practices, community health systems and academic health centers. 

AECP was founded by the physician owners of Associated Eye Care (Stillwater, MN), a comprehensive, diversified professional practice providing adult and pediatric eye care services for nearly 50 years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, together with the owners of Castling Partners, LLC (Minneapolis, MN), a privately held advisory and asset development firm comprised of senior healthcare professionals with significant depth and breadth in the delivery of domestic and international health care, healthcare policy and research and healthcare operations and financing.

AECP’s mission is “advancing eye care through sound business practice” with a core philosophy that “engaged doctors practice better medicine.”  


Demographics favor continuing growth of eye services within the U.S. population. With consolidation of the commercial payers and cost of care concerns by the government payers, downward pressures on price, utilization and total costs of care will continue. Competition for health services demand, including eye services, in markets will increase. Expensive practice buy-ins for younger providers will challenge the capital structures of independent practices. Buy-outs for retiring physicians will be at risk. 

Private equity will continue to be interested in eye practices, among other specialties, so long as the expected returns satisfy the sophisticated, private investor. Private investors are generally agnostic to the mission of the professional services organization of interest; the goal is financial returns that meet or exceed calculated risk profiles as compared with equally or more attractive alternatives. Private equity requires an exit at return multiples within calculated time frames.

While demand for eye care services will increase, smaller practices will find it increasingly challenging to navigate the health services waters ahead without experienced partners, collaborative business models and access to affordable capital. 


•       Strategy for Growth

•       Operating Efficiencies and Work Flows

•       Revenue Management and Compliance

•       Facility Design, Development and Partnerships

•       Health Information Systems

•       Human Resources Administration

•       Financial Management and Performance Reporting

•       Clinical Research Management

•       ASC Development and Management

•       Optical and Retail Development and Performance Management

•       Corporate Ownership, Governance and Compensation

•       Practice Productivity and Efficiency Analytics

•       Culture and Leadership Assessment and Development

•       Marketing, Brand Development and Management

•       Executive, Project-Specific Advisory Support 


•       Project-specific Consulting

•       Retainer-based, Ongoing Advisory Relationships (Our “Sounding Board Service”)

•       Comprehensive Management Service Agreements (MSAs)

•       Business Partnerships, Capital Investment and Management

AECP does not purchase medical practices from ophthalmologists and optometrists. We work as partners to enhance a practice’s performance for its owners. AECP will invest in and co-venture eye care services with practitioners and health systems.



Daniel K. Zismer, Ph.D., Co-Chair and CEO

Gary S. Schwartz, MD, MHA, Co-Chair and Executive Medical Director

Davis D. Fansler, Executive Vice President of Business Development