Technological Improvements That Will Help Contribute to the Patient Experience
Technology has had a lasting impact on a significant number of industries in the last few decades. There is no question that optometry is one of them.
While new technologies can be a benefit for our practices, it's a constant challenge to find the next tool that your practice needs, while at the same time justifying the costs and challenges of implementing new technology.
The biggest thing new technologies have done is change the patients’ expectations of what their experience will be. In today's optometric world, there are so many new options when looking to replace deteriorating equipment or trying to decide on the next advancement of clinical tools. With technology contributing to our patients’ expectations of the “next generation” versions happening multiple times per year, we’re getting to a point where patients are expecting the "latest and greatest" every office visit. Fortunately, this can be addressed by covering all areas of a practice, from the front desk to the exam room, and all the way to the optical dispensary.
A few items that are starting to become common are things like utilizing a smart phone platform to perform auto refractions or retinal/anterior segment imaging. These smaller devices can reduce "equipment anxiety" which can make the patient feel more comfortable during the examination.
There are new optical display technologies that use LED lighting and programmable chips to display frames in your office that a patient may have picked out online before they arrived at your office. This can encourage the "click-to-brick" buyer’s mentality a lot of Millennials have; it can also reduce the confusion that patients encounter when looking at all of the frames displayed in a typical dispensary.
There are new EHRs that utilize an iPad, which increases face-to-face communication time between doctor and patient. Another new idea I saw recently that was intriguing was a practice that created an in office program similar to ditto.com, in which they brought in a fashionable, price-conscience frame line. The practice then negotiated a great deal on lens blanks and utilized the fashionable frames with the low-cost lenses to create a "swap anytime" single vision frame and lens package for a monthly fee. These are just a few of all of the never ending options that are now being implemented in optometric practices.
Not all technology can be looked at as an immediate profit center for your practice. Some technology tools you implement will create billable fees in the long term, say an upgraded OCT or Retinal Camera, while other tools implemented might strictly be for the patients’ convenience or the "wow" factor that can’t immediately be monetized but will show value through positive patient perception and retention.
As I see it, at the end of the day, you need to make technological improvements within your practice that will help contribute to the entire patient experience. Your patients expect it in today's world and when you commit to providing the highest quality of care combined with a thoughtful use of new technology, you create a competitive advantage for your practice.
What technology did you see at Vision Expo East that could help your practice more efficiently help patients?