Telemedicine: Threat or Opportunity for Eye Care Providers?

According to many experts, the heath care industry is headed toward a transformative change fueled by telemedicine and point-of-care technologies.  While this market is still maturing, many remote and home-based technologies are simple enough to be used inexpensively and in remote settings.  Much of this is driven by the need for accessible, cost-effective healthcare.

News has surfaced the past few weeks about a new technology that is seeking FDA approval to provide online glasses refractions that would bypass the need to see an eye doctor.  The company recently announced that it has received $1 million dollars in funding.  This announcement was met with a great deal of backlash from the eye care community, including the AOA which released this statement.  It’s unclear at this time whether or not this device disrupts the traditional eye care model, but it’s probably inevitable that we will see this or similar technology penetrate eye care.  Threat or opportunity?

Recently Lux Research analysts explored the potential for this market across several specialties.  According to their researchers, “ophthalmology will quickly offer consumers multiple devices for self-diagnosis and monitoring of conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma”.  Also, the aforementioned company is not the first to develop an app that measures refractive error, although most other applications have been directed at providing eye care in remote and underdeveloped areas. Continue reading


Should I Buy My Glasses Online?

Consumers have many choices when it comes to purchasing eye wear.  The most notable change in recent years has been the ability to order glasses through online vendors.  Purchasing glasses online can be less expensive and more convenient than purchasing from your doctor’s office, but there are some services that simply cannot be provided over an Internet connection.

The Role of the Optician


Traditionally, patients see their eye doctor for their annual exam.  When new or replacement glasses are recommended, the patient is handed off to an optician to assist with the process of choosing glasses based on style, fit, comfort and compatibility with their prescription and vision requirements.  To an untrained eye, it may appear that eye glasses are all somewhat the same – just differing in style and prescription.  Ask anyone who has struggled with nighttime glare from oncoming traffic, headaches with computer use, or the “swimming” effect of progressive lenses, and you may start to appreciate that not all glasses are made the same.  Subtle complexities can make a significant difference in glasses you love vs. glasses you tolerate.

5 Ways an Optician Can Help You See Better

  1. Match glasses to your lifestyle.  Most of us have different visual demands.  Factors such as occupation, sports and hobbies can affect how we use our eye sight.  Do you spend long hours on a computer?  Do you fish or ski?  Do you do a lot of nighttime driving?  These are just a few examples where opticians could help match the quality of each lens to a patient’s unique needs.
  2. Verify an accurate prescription.  Typically, when glasses are ordered through your doctor’s office, an optician will check the glasses before dispensing them to you to make sure they contain the correct prescription.  Although rare, sometimes mistakes are made.  It’s important to rectify this before you start wearing the glasses.  In one study, researchers found that nearly half of prescription glasses ordered online either contained the wrong lenses or failed safety standards. (Optometry, vol. 82, iss. 9, Sept 2011).
  3. Take proper measurements.  While the average consumer may be unfamiliar with terms like pantoscopic tilt, seg height and pupillary distance, this is common lingo for an optician.  It’s important that these (and other) measurements are accurate.  It’s also important that the glasses are properly adjusted to provide optimal vision.  Inaccurate optical measurements or poorly adjusted glasses can potentially result in eyestrain, headaches and distorted vision.
  4. Recommend appropriate lens designs and treatments.  To repeat an earlier phrase: not all glasses are the same!  This is especially true of progressive lenses (often called no-line bifocals), where peripheral distortion or a “swimming” effect is common with certain types of lenses.  Other factors to consider are anti-reflective coating, scratch resistance, UV protection, tints and polarized lenses.
  5. Fashion!  Hey, its not just about vision!  Glasses are also a fashion accessory.  If you’re comfortable with choosing a stylish frame that compliments your facial features, skin tone and hair color – go for it!  If you’re like the rest of us and need a little guidance in this area, an optician can be very helpful.

When your doctor presents you with a new glasses prescription, take a minute to consider all the factors mentioned above when asking yourself the question: Should I buy my glasses online? 

About: Steve Vargo, OD, MBA is the founder of New Media OD, an online resource devoted to helping doctors strengthen their online presence.  He is also a frequent contributor to Review of Optometric Business, owner of iMobile Communications, consultant for Global EyeVentures and practicing optometrist in the Chicago area.

Too Busy for Social Media Marketing? Hire an Agency.

Too busy to handle your social media marketing?  Or just not sure what to post or how to effectively engage your audience through social networking?  This week we spoke with Jim Shumate, founder of OD Social Net – a social networking agency that works with optometric practices.

New Media OD:  Tell us about your company, OD Social Net, and what type of services you provide.

Jim:  We think that physicians of all types need help marketing their practices. Social Net is starting with Optometrists and has plans to reach dentists and other specialties.  I have over 20 years of eye care marketing plus small business coaching and was a partner in a software development and web marketing firm.  So starting with Optometrists is a natural.iStock_000017867861XSmall

We take a holistic approach to solving the marketing riddle for a practice.  It is important to identify your target audience and build a plan around connecting with them.  If the physician lacks providers, then we supply staff training, web marketing, and social networking as needed. We have a great new service for building online reviews that we are very excited about bringing to Optometry.

New Media OD:  From a marketing perspective, what type of posts typically elicits the greatest response from previous or potential patients?Continue reading

Trouble Getting Organized? Try Evernote.

Guest blogger: Chad Fleming, OD, FAAO…

There is a need among optometrists  to be highly organized and technology affords you the ability to do this.  Due to the demands of practice efficiency this is a must in being successful.  Interestingly enough, I have met many ODs that are not organized and I wonder how they do it.  They attempt to utilize sticky notes or scrap paper.  Or they have a “technology” of using a word document to put their thoughts into.  I’ve also heard ODs that bookmark everything in their browser but then are unable to locate what they bookmarked because it is difficult to search bookmarks for content.  They attempt to juggle all the balls in their mind and then frustrate others by forgetting the little things.  They can’t find that piece of paper or bookmark that had information on it.  Unfortunately, the information is needed for the meeting that started 15 minutes ago.  For some it works, others, utter chaos!

Technology has changed this old way of project and task management.  The best organizational program available, in my opinion, is called Evernote.  This piece of software allows you to be organized from any computer or phone and it all syncs together simultaneously.  I currently use 3 main technology devices (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air) and Evernote allows me to access data from any of them.  One key feature that I enjoy with Evernote is the ability to easily clip any web page and send it directly to Evernote for reference later.  Evernote will also efficiently search all notes and content within the notes.  I would not be capable of going completely paperless in optometry and in life if not for Evernote.  There are many other great features of this software.  The greatest thing is that it is free.

So where does this fit into transitioning an optometry practice.  It fits into the demand for you to be highly organized and efficient.  Having all your notes, quotes, recommendations, numbers, etc., all at your fingertips gives you a competitive advantage among your peers and give you the information you need when you need it to make good practice management decisions.  It also helps de-clutter that mind of yours.

About Chad: Chad Fleming, OD, FAAO  is an owner of a 4 doctor practice in Wichita, KS where he lives with his wife and 2 boys.  Dr. Fleming is also the Business & Career Consultant for AOA Excel.  He coaches doctors in becoming associates, transitioning to partners and selling optometry practices.  He is also founder/ceo of OptomteryCEO, LLC.

Need Help Finding The Right Contact?

The Right ContactGuest blogger.. Jason Compton, O.D.

For decades, contact lens professionals have used journals to obtain contact lens information.  While this was an adequate tool in the past, this search method is quickly turning obsolete.  Traditional print sources are just unable to assist practitioners with the thousands of contact lenses currently on the market.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to sift through all the excess to find the right product for one’s patient.

Times are changing and analysis shows that more and more people are turning to computers and mobile devices to find the information they need.  Has the contact lens market kept up with these changes?  Simply answered… No.  In order for doctors to learn about the various contact lens designs, and better understand their differences, there needs to be an easily accessible centralized location where one can review these lens specifications.  This location should be updated in real-time, offer new ways of analyzing contact lens products, host an online community and provide an overall next level resource for practitioners.  This is where TheRightContact.com comes in – a website designed to do just that, and much more. Continue reading

WOW Your Patients with Educational Videos – Interview with EyeMotion

In a recent post, Video Marketing – Demystified, I discussed the value and marketing potential of creating promotional or educational videos for your practice and sharing through a variety of digital media channels (website, Facebook, YouTube, emails, even text).  I also attempted to debunk the myth that creating and distributing video was difficult or even expensive.  That said, I understand that the idea of creating patient videos will not appeal to everyone.

But fear not my camera shy colleagues!  This week I bring you the magic of pre-designed video.  We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Rod Yost, president of EyeMotion.  EyeMotion is a website design company that also produces patient education videos.

New Media OD:  Let’s talk about EyeMotion.  Could you summarize the products and services you provide?

Rod:  EyeMotion is a full service website design company offering website hosting packages and patient education videos.

Because we concentrate only on the Eyecare industry we can focus on offering our clients great value on website designs and all related services and backed by great customer service.  Most of our clients choose to incorporate our EyeMotion Patient Education Center into their website and to my knowledge we are the only company that can offer both design and animations from one company.

New Media OD:  Discuss the impact that video can have on the viewing experience when patients visit your site.Continue reading

eyecareScore: New Tool to Measure Patient Feedback

As increasing numbers of our patients are seeking information about health care providers from the Internet, review sites and social media, monitoring patient satisfaction has never been more important.  Recently New Media OD had the pleasure of interviewing Ronald Krefman OD, founder of eyecareScore,  a survey tool to measure, understand and improve patient feedback.

New Media OD:  Please describe your background and what inspired you to create eyecareScore.

Dr. Krefman:  Some 30 years ago my first position as an optometrist was faculty in the Ophthalmology Department at the University of Illinois Eye Hospital. This led to research and conducting clinical trials that rely on patient outcomes reports.  With that knowledge I was inspired to develop an evidence based measure of the eyecare patient experience based on the following observations: an over-abundance of unsolicited reviewing going on, and its potential negative impact on practitioners; the lack of a standardized measures of the eyecare experience; health reform calls for transparency and accountability in reporting that may lead to pay for performance based upon patient satisfaction scores;  and the lack of an eyecare specific patient experience measuring tool.

New Media OD:  How does your system work?

Dr. Krefman:  eyecareScore® measures patient feedback through an online survey. Patients are either invited by email to take the survey, or given the website and an authentication code to access the survey.  Results are tabulated instantly and subscribing eyecare practices can log in and view their confidential results and compare their performance over time, and to an aggregated score of their peers.

The survey questionnaire is broken into composite scores for the Dr., the Staff, Access to Care, the Optical Dispensary, and the Managed Care Plan. Each composite summary score is based upon five to six of the best questions to ask, as proven through detailed statistical and psychometric analysis.  These questions are the key drivers of patient satisfaction and advocacy  in top performing practices. For each question we have established representative and validated peer benchmarks for subscribers to measure against. We measure Net Promoter Score and also have tools to easily sort and read through open comments. Continue reading

Apps in Eye Care – EyeDock Interview with New Media OD

As mobile devices and applications have become more user-friendly and affordable, the appeal to businesses of all types, including eye care professionals, has grown considerably.  Information that previously required online searches or flipping through printed references is now available in just a few clicks on a smartphone.

Established in 2002, the EyeDock website has become a leading online clinical reference for optometry.  Through positive word-of-mouth and press coverage in several trade publications, EyeDock now has a subscriber base of nearly 3000 eye care professionals.  New Media OD had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Todd Zarwell, founder of the EyeDock website and app.

New Media OD:  Dr. Zarwell, thank you for taking the time to discuss EyeDock with us.  Can you tell us what inspired the development of EyeDock?

Dr. Zarwell: Well, in about 2000 or so I was working at multiple clinic locations and I was always forgetting to bring my contact lens catalogue with me.  I kept doing web searches for contact lens parameters and was frustrated that I wasn’t getting any results.  It seemed like the internet would be a perfect place for a contact lens database because it would allow for searches by names, company, parameters, etc.

After a while I started to wonder if I could make something like this myself.  I enjoyed writing little programs as a kid in the 80’s and I was interested in learning more about websites.  I thought this would be a fun little project, so I bought an introductory book on HTML and learned enough to know I had a lot more to learn.  I bought books on database structure and server-side programming and slowly cobbled together the first version of EyeDock. Continue reading

Use YouTube to Convert Prospects to Patients

Youtube : youtube Logo on a laptop screen Stock PhotoWhen it comes to marketing, we tend to rely on words and pictures to get our message across. Whether its direct mail, print ads, email, or our Facebook page; often times our advertising comes across as static and impersonal.  Visuals are typically more appealing than written text or even pictures.  Is there something interesting about your practice that differentiates you from the competition?  Consider using video to show people what makes you great.

Here are 5 tips for using YouTube to attract patients:

  1. Provide value.  Your videos must provide real value to the end-user.  Educational or how-to videos are a great way to deepen relationships with current patients and convert prospects into new patients.
  2. Be remarkable.  Using your “right-brain marketing approach”, create content that’s engaging, entertaining and separates you from the rest.  The biggest sin in marketing is to be boring.  Remarkable videos get remembered. Continue reading