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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

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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.

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Add a Sports Vision Niche to your Practice

As declining reimbursements and Internet vendors continue to chip away at the traditional profit centers for optometrists, many ODs are looking for ways to remain competitive.  Specialized services have attracted the attention of many practices looking to differentiate themselves.  If you have a passion for sports, helping your athlete patients enhance their vision and improve their athletic abilities can be a rewarding and profitable niche.

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We had a chance to speak with Dr. Don Teig.  Dr. Teig is former Director of the Institute for Sports Vision in Ridgefield, CT and served as a vision consultant to many professional sports teams.  He has authored numerous articles, lectured throughout the world on this topic, and appeared on several national television and radio programs discussing vision and sports.  Dr. Teig recently retired from private practice to devote his time to his sports vision consulting business, High Performance Vision Consulting.

New Media ODTell us a little about High Performance Vision Consulting?

Dr. Teig:  I established this program last year to train doctors to be able to incorporate a “soup to nuts” Sports Vision / High Performance Vision specialty niche into their practices.   I provide 16 hours of lectures over two days, a 700 page manual that covers all aspects of this specialty from testing, training, marketing, p.r., fees, testimonials, etc.  I also provide as part of the package, 6 months of follow up e-mail and telephone accessibility to all who take this training.  Each doctor receives a certificate indicating that they have completed the course.  I conduct these programs  once a year in a group setting  for a fee of $6500 as well as one-on-one  programs on site at doctors offices for a fee of $7500.  My next group event is scheduled for January 24-25, 2014 at the Hollywood Beach Marriott in Hollywood, Florida.  Doctors can register by calling me at 203-312-3123 or on my website www.ultimateeventsllc.com.

New Media ODCan anyone start a sports vision specialty, or does this require a background in, say, vision therapy or developmental vision? Continue reading

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Mobile Apps: A Key to Patient Engagement

19062124_sAccording to Juniper Research, there were 44 million medical app downloads in 2012. This is expected to rise to 142 million by 2016.  80 percent of physicians are now using mobile technology to provide patient care.  In spite of these trends, studies have shown that only a small percentage of doctors and health care systems are actively recommending health care apps to their patients.

Most people have their mobile phones on them at all times.  25% of Americans now access the Internet only via mobile device.  Mobile allows you to stay connected with your patients anywhere, anytime.  Here are some top ways you can engage patients with mobile apps:

  • Schedule appointments
  • Send appointment reminders
  • Medication, contact lens replacement and vitamin re-order reminders
  • Bi-directional communication
  • Remote patient monitoring
  • Social media connectivity
  • Marketing / promotions

The EyeXam mobile application is the first app in eye care addressing all the features listed above for patient engagement.  Through its partnership with Eyefinity, EyeXam has over 28,000 eyecare professionals listed in a GPS-based directory.  With over 1 million consumer downloads, the EyeXam is a powerful tool to stay connected with a patient base that is increasingly moving to mobile. Continue reading

The EDGE™ – Work Smarter, Not Harder!

The EdgeLooking for a more effective way to evaluate vision care plans, staff, products and professional productivity? The EDGE™ is a consultative tool that provides easy access to your profit centers through a web-based system.  Last week I spoke with Jay Binkowitz, president of GPN™ (exclusive provider of The EDGE™), who provided some insight into how The EDGE™ can, well…give you an “edge”.

New Media OD:  You describe The EDGE™ as a “Performance Management Philosophy”.  Can you elaborate on that?

Jay: Yes. The EDGE™ is not a reporting system providing static reports and excel spreadsheets. It is a well thought out philosophy on what you should be tracking and what the information means. It takes you through a proven management routine with a series of graphs, charts and easy to understand information. But more importantly it provides you and your team the business resources to know what to do about. I call that the “then what”.

New Media OD:  Could you provide a quick overview of how the Edge works?

Jay: We seamlessly sync up with many of the industry practice management systems and upload the information from their system to our web based system The EDGE™. It takes place at night and does not have any negative effect on their program or resources.

New Media OD:  Do you think too many ODs spend time on unproductive, low-value activities, and how does The EDGE™. help re-direct their efforts? Continue reading

EyeXam: Connect with Your Mobile Patients

Guest blogger: Nikki Iravani, O.D., founder of the EyeXam app

EyeXam is currently the #1 app on the App store when searching for “eye exam” or “eye doctor”.

From a consumer standpoint, consumers can download the free app to conveniently communicate with VSP offices. The most popular and highly-rated features of the app include appointment scheduling anytime-anywhere, instant messaging offices to ask questions, place optical and contact lens replacement orders, set personalized reminders, view on-going promotions for eye-related products and receive notifications from VSP offices regarding upcoming promotions, sales and trunk shows.Logo

From a practitioners’ standpoint, the EyeXam Dashboard will connect the eyecare provider’s office with new and existing patients by providing valuable information about perspective patients who are in the area looking for eyecare providers and have looked at the practitioner’s profile. This enhanced marketing tool is crucial in the eyecare providers ability to expand their practice. Offices who subscribe to the mobile platform can promote sales at their offices, send reminders to their patients and communicate with their patients via EyeXam without bombarding their email and text message inboxes. VSP providers are already listed in the mobile app and can take advantage of the app’s great features by upgrading their profile for a low monthly subscription fee.

More information about EyeXam can be found at: http://www.eyexam.com

Use QR Codes to Drive Optical Sales

13251619-scanning-qr-code-with-mobile-smart-phone-isolated-on-white[1]QR codes are still a bit of an enigma for many people.  If you’re one of those people, you might think that most people share the same indifference toward these funny looking bar codes.  However, you might be surprised to hear that more than 50% of smartphone owners have scanned a QR code (ComScore), and they have grown by 120% from this time last year (NeoMedia).

Any smartphone equipped with a camera and a QR reader can scan a QR code, which serves as a link connecting you with digital or web content.  This technology allows you to interact with your patients and customers on a higher level.  Patients can scan these codes to learn about your products or services in a more interactive way.  Consider placing these in your optical or dispensary inviting patients to scan the code to see a video on the benefits of polarized lenses, progressives, etc.  Although we train our opticians to discuss these benefits, people tend to have a stronger emotional reaction to visual imagery.  If patients can “see” the value, they may be pre-sold before even sitting down with the optician.

QR4EAvoid Showrooming

Showrooming is when a customer enters a brick and morter store to touch and feel the product and then goes online or to a big-box competitor to purchase at a lower price.  While this is most common with electronics and retail clothing, I think its nonetheless worthy of our attention as online frame vendors become increasingly prevelant.  Research has shown that the longer you can keep customers in your business and engaged in the products you sell, the greater the chance you will keep the sale in-house.  Click HERE to see a quick video on QR codes and the showrooming effect.

Make it Easy!

A few suggestions on QR codes:  If room permits, provide brief instructions for your tech-averse patients (ie. visit scan.mobi on your smartphone and download the QR reader).  Also, let them know what will happen when they scan the code.  Don’t simply assume they will scan it just because you placed it there.  Lastly, consider that people who scan QR codes are on their mobile phone.  Don’t send them to your desktop website.  People on-the-go have short attention spans and want quick info, a full website does not render well on a 3 inch screen.  Now if you have a “mobile website” – that’s a different story!

Turn Scans into Revenue

It should also be noted that a third of people who scan a QR code have a household income over $100K, so these might serve to attract consumers of a higher income level with greater spending power.

If you’re looking for ways to make your optical more interactive, click HERE to access a list of QR codes that link to educational videos.  Take as many as you like – they’re free!  (author’s note: I do have permission from the various companies to use / distribute these videos for patient education purposes)

About Steve:  Steve Vargo, O.D., M.B.A. is in private practice in St. John, Indiana where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.  He also founded iMobile Communications, and frequently writes and lectures about using technology for marketing and communication.

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.

Optometry and the 80/20 Principle: Eliminate Wasteful Activity and Thrive

The 80/20 Principle asserts that 80 percent of what you achieve comes from 20 percent of effort.  For all practical purposes, this suggests that 80 percent of our effort is largely irrelevant.  Contrary to what people think, the relationship between inputs and outputs (effort and reward) is largely imbalanced.  In business, many examples of this theory have been validated.  Twenty percent of products usually account for 80 percent of dollar value sales; so do 20 percent of customers.

80 20 : Pink and red pie chart with twenty and eighty percent, glossy and bright 3d renderAre the most powerful resources of your practice being held back by a majority of much less effective resources?  The 80/20 Principle suggests that profits could be multiplied if more of the best sort of products sold, employees hired, or customers attracted.

  • Products: OD’s are investing greater time and advertising dollars into attracting the least loyal and least profitable patients we have – price shoppers.  The most obvious example is contact lens patients who take their script to discount or online retailers.  Perhaps this makes up 10 percent of our contact lens base, yet we restructure our entire pricing plan around this segment.  Many docs have mitigated this trap by focusing on contacts with superior lens technology AND higher profit margins.Continue reading

Our Patients Have Different Needs. So Why Do We Send Everyone the Same Promotion?

In many businesses, it’s impossible to satisfy all customers’ needs by treating them uniformly.  Each market segment has its own unique needs and preferences.  The main objective in market segmentation is to maximize advertising efficiency and deliver more targeted messages to your customer base, allowing companies to develop marketing campaigns that appeal to those who are most likely to make a purchase. Your patient base can be segmented by a number of factors.  For eye care professionals, some market segment examples might be age, occupation, product usage and previous dollar spend. 

  • Age.  If a product appeals to a certain age group, you may want to target this market with a specific offer.  For example, invite your 40-55 year old patients to a free clinic on multi-focal CLs.  Your staff can insert lenses for the attendees to try, and then schedule them for a full exam at a later date if they prefer.  Perhaps you practice in a high income area with a high percentage of younger patients.  You might target 20-40 year olds for a similar promotion on Lasik.  You should be able to access this data from your practice management software.
  • Hobbies and occupation.  If you have a way to track this, certain hobbies and occupations lend them themselves to customized eyewear.  An obvious example is computer use.  Patients whose job requires significant computer use would be prime candidates for coupons or promotions for computer glasses, or maybe dry eye consults.  Work in an area with a lot of skiers or fishermen?  Target them with a discount on polarized glasses or sports goggles. Continue reading

The ‘Law of Reciprocity’ and Increased Eyewear Sales

Doctor: Would you like to order your contacts today, Mrs. Smith?

Mrs. Smith: That’s OK.  I’ll just take the prescription and get them online.

What happened here?  You just did a thorough, high-tech eye exam on Mrs. Smith, addressed all her complaints, answered all her questions, and then without hesitation she informs you that she will be taking her business elsewhere.  Let’s rewind 20 minutes and see if there’s anything we could have done to elicit a different response.

15379434_sIn the book Influence: Science and Practice, Robert Cialdini takes an insightful look at the power of persuasion and what causes people to say yes (or no) to what you are offering.  According to Dr. Cialdini, one of the most potent weapons of influence is reciprocity.  Reciprocity refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. To illustrate this rule, psychologist Dennis Regan had subjects believe they were in an “art appreciation” experiment with a partner, who was really Regan’s assistant.  At one point, the assistant left the room and returned with a soft drink for the other subject.  When the art experiment was done, the assistant asked the other subject to do him a favor by purchasing raffle tickets.  The subjects who had received the earlier favor bought twice as many raffle tickets as the control group who had not been given the prior favor, despite never asking for the soft drink to begin with.   This is a rather simple example, but we see this situation played out rather frequently with businesses that offer no-cost information (ie. free inspections, evaluations, etc.) that often results in customers giving their business to the firm that rendered the initial, complementary service.

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