5 Ways Your Practice Website Annoys Your Patients

Annoyed : Angry business man screaming on cell mobile phoneWhen you use your smartphone to search a business’s website for a phone number or hours of operation, do you enjoy having to scroll, magnify the text and seek out the desired link?  Well, your patients probably don’t enjoy it either.  Despite spending hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on a desktop version website with numerous pages of content, graphics, videos, and pictures of your high-tech office; your mobile patients are typically just interested in the cliff notes version of your site.

Here are 5 ways your desktop site may be annoying your mobile viewers:

  1. Hard to navigate.  People don’t want to scroll through tiny print to locate basic information.  Your mobile website needs to be radically simpler.  Create a site that allows quick access to important information.
  2. Takes too long to load.  Nearly 60% of Web users expect a site to load on their mobile phone in three seconds or less, and 74% will leave the site if a single Web page does not load in five seconds or less (Compuware).  Normal websites tend to be very slow and cluttered.  Mobile sites with less graphics can open faster.Continue reading

New Technology to Drive Revenue, Profits & Prevent Blindness, Heart Attacks and Strokes

I recently met Blaine Ung, President of the Eye Care Division of HeartSmart Technologies based in Irvine California.  Here is the synopsis of our discussion.

NewMediaOD:  Please tell us about HeartSmart and why Eye Care physicians should take notice.

HeartSmart: First of all, thank you for giving us the opportunity to share HeartSmart’s story.  Our nation has a really big health problem on our hands.  The American Heart Association estimates that 81 million American are at-risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the total direct and indirect costs of CVD will exceed $800 Billion by 2030.   

It won’t come as any surprise to your readers that CVD is the No. 1 killer of men and women worldwide resulting in over 17 million deaths annually according to the World Health Organization.

Prior to the launch of HeartSmart’s Eye Care Division in January of last year, HeartSmart worked exclusively with cardiologists, internal medicine and primary care physicians.

We started the Eye Care Division because Optometrists & Ophthalmologists perform over 96 million eye exams annually and there is a linkage between eye health and overall health.

We advocate that Eye Care physicians play a major role in detecting and quantifying patients who might be at risk by incorporating a carotid artery ultrasound screening into their comprehensive eye exam routine.

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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

Low-cost, Portable Technology for Eye Docs (Part 1): the iExaminer

In a previous post titled Are We on the Brink of a Mobile Healthcare Revolution, I discussed some of the trends in mobile technology and the potential implications for the future of healthcare.  Due to their low-cost and mobility, smartphones are beginning to play a larger role in doctor’s offices.  In this first installment, I interviewed Jennifer Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Intuitive Medical Technologies.  Her company produces the iExaminer.

MePlease describe the products you offer for eye care professionals and their functionality

Jennifer:  Intuitive Medical Technologies produces the iExaminer hardware and software as well as the iExaminer Slit Lamp Adapter. Our original device — the iExaminer — adapts the iPhone 4 or 4S to the Welch Allyn PanOptic. Our iPhone iExaminer App allows the medical technician to use the iPhone to capture fundus (optic nerve and retina) photography with the PanOptic. The app also includes a walk through of a full eye exam allowing the technician to record all pertinent information in one patient file format that can be saved, printed, or emailed for consultation or as a record of patient information. Our newest product is the iExaminer Slit Lamp Adapter. This adapter allows the medical technician to take photographs of the anterior segment of the eye through the slit lamp.

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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

3 Ways to Become an “Expert” in the Eyes of Potential Employers

I can remember as a 4th year optometry student hovering over the copy machine at Kinko’s making hundreds of copies of my killer resume.  After all, I was “almost” a doctor, and I was using the fancy paper!  As I mailed off a couple hundred resumes, I proudly marched home and anxiously waited for employers to start lining up to bid on my services. You can imagine my disappointment when all my hard work earned me just one response from an OD – to tell me he wasn’t hiring.

Today’s OD has a lot of resources that didn’t previously exist to put them in front of employers and help them stand out from the pack.  Social media is a great way to establish your expertise in a particular area and build a personal and professional brand that can get you noticed by employers.  Here are 3 ways I find particularly suited for this purpose.

  1. Start a blog.  A blog is a great way to establish your expertise or authority on a particular subject.  Is there a niche that interests you (ie. sports vision, ortho-K, etc.)?  Write about it.  But I’m not an expert you say?  Become one.  Research your topic, write about case examples (no names), interview industry experts, share your accomplishments, etc.  You’ll find that you learn a great deal by researching these topics, and eventually people start looking to you as a resource.  Whether you post once a week or once a month, you will gradually accrue a nice body of work that can be easily linked to an online resume or forwarded to employers.  One of the best features of a blog is the ability to instantly disseminate it to hundreds of people via social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. 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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Use Coupons for Marketing? Boost Redemption Rates by 10 Times!

There’s no denying the retail side of eye care.  Regardless of you’re mode of practice, there’s a good chance that if there’s an “OD” after your name that you or your employer sells stuff.  And since you sell stuff, you’ve probably used coupons to try to sell more stuff.  Coupons, when targeted and relevant, can be a great call-to-action that sparks business.  The downside to traditional coupons is they tend to be mass distributed, which can make them costly and inefficient.  Enter mobile marketing.  Send a coupon or promotion to your customers (patients) that is targeted, incredibly easy to redeem, and will likely be with them at all times…send it to their mobile phone.

According to Borrell Associates, mobile coupons produce significantly higher redemption rates than print coupons.  “For advertisers, mobile coupons offer a great ROI,” said Peter Conti, junior executive president at Borrell Associates.  “Redemption rates are 10 times that of email – or newspaper – distributed coupons.”  Their report shows mobile marketing is set to reach dominant penetration levels.  The fast increase is largely due to an existing installed base of cell phones – that over 80% of the population has – and the number of smartphone users has approached 50%.

Text based coupons are the fastest-growing and most obvious application that is also easy to implement.  There is nothing to download, print, or cut; and the coupon goes right to their mobile phone which most people have with them at all times.  In a previous post I discussed the importance of marketing messages being timely, relevant, and valuable.    If you work with recall software that allows you to send text reminders, consider including mobile coupons with the reminder.  This could be in the form of a redeemable coupon code or simply writing the offer into the text.  When combined with recall, this coupon is being sent to possibly the most targeted audience we have – our patients – at the exact time they require our services.  Not all patients are open to receiving text messages from businesses, but the ones who opt-in tend to be more engaged and loyal to your brand.

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I Got a Negative Customer Review. Woo Hoo!!

Although we cringe and immediately resort to defensiveness when we see that negative customer review posted on an internet review site; from a business standpoint this isn’t always a bad thing.  A negative review can actually provide validity to consumers seeking information about you on the Social Web.

A recent study by Reevoo found that 68 percent of consumers trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad.  95 percent become suspicious when the reviews are all positive, sensing that the site might be censored or fake.  Consumers know that not every product or service is perfect, and prefer to weigh the negatives against the positives to make informed decisions.  Richard Anson, founder/CEO of Revoo, states “counter-intuitive as it may seem, negative user-generated content is actually one of the most effective conversion tools”.

Of course, this does not mean that we should ignore negative comments.  Quite the contrary, as this presents an excellent opportunity to publicly showcase our willingness to rectify customer complaints.  In a previous post titled What is the “Social” Benefit of Social Media, I discussed the connection between the purchase funnel and the Social Web.  The experience you provide is what drives conversations that take place beyond the cash register. However, if a customer has a problem with your product or service, it’s the post-purchase actions you take that become part of the customer “experience”.

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See More Patients by Having Them Return Less Often. Huh?

Customer (patient) retention is one of the most important aspects of growing your business.  This is especially true for patients you’ve only seen once.  Research has shown that two time buyers are twice as likely to return as one time buyers.  Translation for doctors: if you can turn that one time patient into a two time patient, you may have earned their long-term business.  You may have effectively become their “doctor” instead of that “place they bought glasses” last year.

Most doctors have a patient recall system that, when implemented effectively, should provide a very healthy ROI.  These appointment reminders are being sent to patients that have already been to our office.  Hopefully you and your staff created a positive impression that communicated trust and likeability.  An established practice may spend several thousand dollars annually on recall, but are we getting the most “bang for our buck” with this investment?

Eye care providers typically underestimate the average interval between eye exams.  A study by the Management and Business Academy (MBA) found that while many doctors estimate the interval between exams for contact lenses and glasses-only patients is 14 months and 18 month respectively, consumer data reveals the median intervals between exams is closer to 18 months for contact lens patients and 24-27 months for glasses-only wearers.  This raises the question of whether we should heighten our efforts to bring patients back at the one year mark, or rather adjust our recall schedule to accommodate our patients and make our recall more timely.

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