Why Some Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine
If you ask a doctor about the prognosis for telemedicine, you will most likely get an enthusiastic and positive response. This technology, which connects medical professionals and patients, has both immediate and long-term benefits for everyone. On the physician’s side, it can expand the patient base, offer financial gains, and position the practice as a leader in this effective health trend. Meanwhile, patients have accessibility to doctors and specialists, convenience, and cost-savings.
Yes, telemedicine is not only alive and well; it’s shaping the future of healthcare.
The business side of telemedicine is also being recognized and utilized by store owners and CEOs of large retail chains. Providing employees telemedicine options adds to the profit line. And let’s not forget offering this technology to consumers at the store level.
Imagine walking into an optical store (with no appointment) and getting a five-minute vision exam. If you need prescriptive lenses or contacts, you will get an email within 24 hours. Actually, you don’t have to imagine this if you go to a store that offers the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Vision Exam. This technology is already out there building a strong and very happy customer base. (Dare we mention the cost savings customers achieve in addition to the convenience?)
Telemedicine has been a steadily growing influence on healthcare, moving from the visionary stage to practical implementation in medical practices and businesses.
The Vision of Telemedicine
Every great movement has a great vision. With telemedicine, the vision is both practical and global. Doctors, being the medical part of telemedicine, helped shaped this advance in healthcare simply because they are on the ground floor of patient care.
The objective of every physician is to help as many patients as possible. Telemedicine achieves this through the management of both time and distance. This technology provides on-demand care or relegates unnecessary in-person visits to the virtual realm. By taking distance out of the equation, doctors can address the concerns of more patients.
But expanding this vision makes it even more profound. People who are in rural areas or those with mobility or transportation challenges still have access to a doctor. Medical care is no longer dependent on a set number of hours in a day or by a geographic radius.
Through telemedicine, patients have access to specialists from around the world. Need a second opinion? No problem through the use of this technology. MRIs or X-rays can be transmitted securely to another physician anywhere and anytime.
Doctors are finding that telemedicine can reach new patients and retain current ones. New patients are drawn to the ease and accessibility of the doctor’s practice and current patients are seamlessly brought up to date with the technology. The end result is a more proactive stance from patients. They are more likely to use the telemedicine platform to maintain health and to address concerns.
Patients with chronic conditions, like cancer or diabetes, can readily access medical care for continuing or follow-up visits. Doctors appreciate having more frequent consultations with these patients so they can quickly spot any changes that need to be addressed. Telemedicine can also help close the revolving door of re-hospitalization by giving patients a platform by which they can voice their concerns.
Now, let’s take this vision of healthcare out of the doctors’ offices and into the mainstream. In-store clinics can give people a real option for receiving medical care. Business owners using this technology can become thought leaders in this movement.
How Thought Leaders Impact the Role of Telemedicine
Thought leaders are at the forefront of their field, advancing boundaries, innovating, and encouraging adoption of new methodology. But a thought leader is not just an idea person. Their expertise in a chosen field must also be recognized by their contemporaries and reflect positively in their finances. This is the key step in moving from a visionary to a true thought leader. Putting their ideas into practice and backing them up with results is what defines the step up from a visionary to a thought leader.
Thought leaders are persons and business owners (or sometimes even the business itself) who are advancing the boundaries in their respective fields of practice. Their peers rely on their current knowledge of the field as well as their ability to predict where it will be going in the future. Because the thought leader’s ideas are actually backed by others, their predictions for the industry they work in are able to come to fruition. Thought leaders don’t chime in on any and every topic just to be heard; they have specific goals and visions for their business and focus their time, energy, and money into supporting these ideas. This targeted approach does more than allocate their own resources efficiently. Fellow business owners trust the opinions of thought leaders precisely because they take a quality over quantity approach to their input, conversations, and advice.
The thought leaders who shaped telemedicine gained support from their peers through intelligent discussions and innovative ideas. They listened to what was working in the industry and what was not working. What were the chief complaints and praises of doctors, patients, and healthcare facilities? The next step was backing up these ideas with a working model that reflected these changes. But another facet was critical; they needed to show their ideas work both as a service or product and as a financially successful business strategy.
An essential element to being a thought leader is when others in the same field recognize that these innovations and changes are going to shape the industry. To accomplish this, the thought leader has to get the other business owners on board. Being respected in the community as an intellectual or visionary alone will not do this. Supporting innovations by demonstrating they are an effective business strategy will. This is where the visionary must really develop to become a thought leader. By backing up their ideas with commercially-viable products and services, other business owners in the chosen field will take note and respond to the changes being offered.
Thought leaders also need support from the people who will be using their proposed industry-changing ideas. Approval from doctors and patients who are actually going to be hands-on with telemedicine services are essential to gain the financial support business owners are looking for. The product needs to be examined from the client side as well. Something needs to entice future customers into trying the service along with retaining existing ones. And business owners aren’t the only ones who are interested in the bottom line. Affordability is certainly another factor users consider.
The process of advancing from a promising visionary to a respected thought leader benefits the field they work in too. Telemedicine and its fast expansion in the last few years is a direct result of the work of thought leaders. Innovative ideas, backed with support from businesses and users and followed by improved incomes, ensure telemedicine will have a place in the future of health care.
Benefits to Business
Telemedicine’s fast growth results from thought leaders’ guidance. In turn, that rapid expansion of the field supports thought leaders, giving their ideas credibility with improved income to back it up. The varied ways to implement telemedicine come with varied ways to improve the financial aspect, for both businesses and users. Doctors who welcome telemedicine into their practices find it saves money in some areas and generates new income in others. Patients reap the benefits of accessibility; in services that were unavailable before and being able to seek medical advice faster and more often.
One way embracing telemedicine proves its financial value to physicians is seen in improved interactions with patients. This technology allows doctors to connect with more patients, generating more income. But it is not a case of working more hours to bring in more money for the practice. Telemedicine allows the doctor to manage their time more efficiently by directing certain clients to either an in-person or virtual visit, depending on the nature of their request.
Although it excels at being an additional outlet for communicating with a patient, telemedicine cannot replace visits where a physical exam is necessary. However, a patient who needs a quick follow up after a procedure or one without an urgent condition could be offered telemedicine services. The patient actually appreciates this because they don’t want to make an unnecessary trip to their doctor’s office. In these cases, telemedicine frees the doctor up to see other people who had a more urgent issue. Overall, each of these patients receives medical care tailored to their needs.
Telemedicine benefits more than just patients in the waiting room. It saves the practice the money and time lost when a patient doesn’t show up. Because it often takes so long to schedule doctors’ office visits, patients may not be able to keep that appointment since other obligations may arise in the meantime. A no-show patient’s time slot can’t be refilled so becomes lost time and money for the doctor.
Another benefit is alleviating the reason patients have to schedule appointments weeks out. Traditionally, every patient is getting a block of time identical to the next, regardless of why they requested to see their physician. Directing minor issues, follow-ups, and simple questions to telemedicine does more than open a time slot for a more ill patient. Taking people who don’t need a physical exam out of the queue for the doctor’s attention shortens the waiting list. This leads to new patients who get to actually visit the physician much closer to when they called to make an appointment, reducing the need to make plans they might not be able to keep.
Doctors and Telemedicine
The objectives of both doctors and telemedicine are the same: provide quality healthcare for as many people as possible. Through the use of the technology, this aim is not only achieved, it is reaping benefits beyond that sole purpose.
On-demand access to medical care capitalizes on the issue of time by using it more efficiently. Patients and doctors are not limited to set hours in an office, nor are they bound by distance. Telemedicine seeks to meet the standards previously set forth through an in-person doctor visit with the same attention to details, privacy, and personalization.
It is cost-effective for patients and offers financial gains for doctors who may enlarge their practices. Some doctors see telemedicine as a way to have a second income. But let’s not forget the potential benefits retail stores can see with this technology. Offering telemedicine in chain stores like LensCrafters, Rite-Aid, or Walgreens gives customers a more comprehensive way to maintain their health in businesses which they already have come to trust.
The role of doctors in supporting telemedicine has gone from the visionary stage through the thought leadership process to demonstrate the real benefits of this technology. Yes, the doctors are not only “in” when it comes to telemedicine, they have become one of the driving forces behind this trend that is impacting the entire healthcare industry.
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Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them
What is Telemedicine? What Effect Will It Have on the Care of Your Eyes?
by Joyce Handzo
“I love your new glasses! And I am so happy that you finally got your vision checked.”
Your friend laughs and agrees that it took a while to admit that reading a book with outstretched arms was not the smartest (or most comfortable) thing to do.
“Where did you get your vision checked? Did you have a long wait?”
She laughs again and says that the entire exam was about 5 minutes.
You don’t laugh because when you went to the eye doctor you were there for over an hour.
Your friend explains that she went to an optical store for the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Vision Exam.
“But don’t you need to see an eye doctor?”
Good question and one that a lot of people are asking. Can a 5-minute vision exam replace your eye doctor? The answer is yes and no.
Vision Exams vs. Eye Exams
A vision exam, like the one provided through Smart Vision Labs, is known as a refraction test which measures a person’s need for prescription glasses or contacts.
Eye exams are comprehensive evaluations that include a refraction test, examination of both the external and internal parts of the eyes, and a test of the fluid pressure.
Both of these exams are valuable diagnostic tools to maintain optimal eye health. In fact, the American Optometric Association recommends that people between the ages of 18 and 60 get a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years.
Telemedicine and the Eye Doctor
Telemedicine doesn’t seek to replace the eye doctor; this technology works alongside licensed ophthalmologists who review the data generated at the exam and to write prescriptions if needed. It would be best to take the “us vs. them” mentality out of the equation. Telemedicine is an effective way to diagnose and offer corrective lenses.
With telemedicine, the doctor is always “in.” With cloud technology, the doctor can access a patient’s records and make an appropriate diagnosis. This is not only convenient, it’s a cost-effective option. People in rural areas or those who are homebound also benefit because they do not have to physically show up at an office for a vision exam. Through video conferencing and smartphone apps, doctor can actually connect with more patients than ever before.
Something Old, Something New
Telemedicine is one of the most significant heathcare trends, yet it really isn’t new. While its presence and potential is literally disrupting the eyecare industry on all levels, it is able to do that now because of the recent advances in technology. Add to that a patient base which is looking to save time and money, and there is no question that telemedicine is able to outperform the older methods of doctor and patient communication.
But should you never schedule an in-person visit with an eye doctor again? No. Have your eyes examined at least every two years with an in-person visit.
But also make use of telemedicine for vision exams. And here’s a secret that sets telemedicine apart from the old ways. People will take a proactive stance with their vision care when they can get an exam at their convenience, without long waiting times, and be able to afford it.
Telemedicine gives power to the patients without diminishing the role of healthcare professionals. And that’s a healthy vision we can all embrace.
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Did you ever see a unicorn? Or maybe pink elephants? How about a fireworks display in the middle of your living room?
If you said, “Yes” to any of these, you are not alone. People have reported seeing these things, but…well…they may not actually have been there. But that’s okay. There is a way to ‘see’ things a bit clearer. Hold on.
There Goes a Unicorn!
Unicorns are happy creatures even though they have that (seemingly annoying) horn right in the middle of their head. On the bright side, those horns were magical and were believed to counteract poison and purify water. There have been numerous unicorn sightings over the centuries and many cultures recognize this creature as being very real.
But if you have seen a unicorn lately, the best advice may be to have your eyes examined.
You may not have actually seen a unicorn; maybe it was a deer with only one antler? A vision exam may reveal that you have trouble focusing on distant objects. Like a deer.
This condition is called nearsightedness and happens when the light that enters the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of on its surface. This creates a blurry image for distant objects.
But there is a fix to this. Prescription glasses or contacts can bend the light to the right focal point and eliminate the blurriness. This may also stop you from seeing a deer with one antler and calling it a unicorn.
Aren’t Pink Elephants Pretty?
This one is a bit tricky since elephants are not pink. Okay, a super rare albino elephant might be pinkish but it would also be super rare for you to see one. The best advice may be for you to have your eyes examined.
This vision problem is seeing the wrong color. This is a fairly common condition among men with about 1 in 12 being affected by it. For women, that number is lower. Only 1 in 200 has trouble discerning the correct color of an object. This is often an inherited trait, and there is no cure for it. Affected people learn ways to cope with decisions concerning color.
It’s caused when the photoreceptors in the retina (which are called rods and cones) do not respond properly to the wavelengths of light that enable people to distinguish color.
If you are color blind, it’s best to not mention the pink elephants. (But they are kind of cute, aren’t they?)
Fireworks in the Living Room?
Have you ever seen a display of flashing lights even though it wasn’t the 4th of July? This happens and is more common with age. But the best advice may be for you to have your eyes examined.
The eye is filled with clear gel called vitreous and it may pull away or rub against the retina. Since the retina is highly light-sensitive, this causes the light entering the eye to be improperly ‘seen.’ Flashes of light are the result and a vision exam is definitely in order.
Even though unicorns, pink elephants, and flashes of light may be interesting to see, it might be best to investigate them a little further.
You really should have your eyes examined!
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Millennials are more than a buzzword heard on the news. They’re the largest generation since their parents’ and the very first to grow up with digital devices. This combination means products must reach this group and that the old ways of doing so are less effective.
The generally-agreed upon definition for a millennial is a person who was part of the 18 to 34 age demographic in 2015. However, the media has attached their own traits to this group. Self-centered, technology-obsessed, or entitled are common complaints about millennials.
Because of the sheer size of this group, the eyecare industry needs to reach them. However, these negative connotations have resulted in millennials distancing themselves from the term. Despite how true it may be, eyewear created for millennials cannot use that word in their advertising strategy because it seems disconnected and condescending. Several surveys concluded that only around one third of millennials identify with the term. What is the best method to appeal to this group then?
By reaching out and responding to their ideals in a positive way.
This group assigns high priority to expressing individuality. They are the most likely generation to investigate and factor in the ethics of a company. And never experiencing life without a computer nearby means eyecare marketing needs to adapt to the ways millennials communicate, network, and share information online.
To reach out to this group, a company needs to be aware of these issues. In the pre-Internet era, a company’s ethics were a non-factor, unless they did something notable enough to reach the traditional media outlets. Today, stories about any action a company takes, good or bad, can be shared around the world with a tap a smartphone screen. A millennial’s decision to support or boycott a product can be decided in a split second as they read through posts and shared stories on their social media account.
Their individualism also results in support of indie brands. They purchase a unique product as well as the satisfaction of supporting a business which might be operated by only a single person. A millennial’s questioning of the status quo means they are more likely to seek out and support one-of-a-kind, socially conscious and environmentally-friendly businesses or startups.
But what do they look for when shopping for eyewear?
Millennials want choice and change, which is exactly what the eyecare industry disruptors are bringing. Transparency in the eyecare business no longer refers to just the see-through quality of lenses; this is a movement to invite the consumer to have more power and a voice that is heard.
Millennials want to be included in the buying experience. The millennial market is expected to grow within the next five years and industry experts are positioning themselves to reach this consumer base effectively.
In eyewear, millennials want style, color and the ‘cool’ factor. While quality and price are also on their list, millennials view eyewear as a way to stand out and make an impression; cost is a consideration but not a deal-breaker. To this generation, eyewear is a necessary accessory. Whether the glasses are used to correct refractive errors or are worn to protect against UV rays, millennials want to stylishly combine form and function.
This generation is also visually-oriented. They view color, shapes, and designs as ways to express their individuality in whatever event they attend. When selecting eyewear, they like choices whether in-person or online. Choosing is a big part of the buying experience for them and eyecare professionals would do well to keep that in mind.
Millennials want change in the eye care industry as well. At the forefront is customer service. This is a generation that connects and communicates. In-person, they want a knowledgeable sales staff that listens and knows the latest trends. Online, they want to be able to open a chat or join a forum to express their views or ask a question. Social media is the voice of millennials and insightful marketers will speak this language.
An excellent example of a company that has embraced all of these concepts is DITA Eyewear. This company was established in Los Angeles in 1995 with one mission: to create unique, innovative, and finely crafted eyewear. This company has not only heard the voice of the millennial consumer, they are actively giving that voice expression through designing eyewear that connects and communicates with them on their own terms.
In line with their individualism, millennials don’t accept the status quo the eyecare industry has set. They question the “why” of the entire system, from how they get the prescription to the moment they put those new glasses on. The goals of eyecare industry disruptors tend to align with the ideals of millennials which has resulted in the creation and flourishing of the online eyewear market.
Disruptors seek to create transparency so the consumer can see how the industry was operating and how much more efficient it could be which aids the ethics research millennials do. Use of technology, from smartphone vision tests to 3D printed frames, shows this generation that the company is current and interested in achieving ideals rather than relying on old methods. Businesses who create frames from recycled material or ones who seek to improve the availability of glasses in developing countries allows millennials to support philanthropic causes and gives reason to spread the word about the company.
Indie companies are making huge changes in the eyewear industry. This would not have been possible before the technology, desire for change, and millennials to share their ideals and support their businesses.
When it comes to vision exams, millennials want convenience. They have fully embraced technology and understand its usefulness. They are also confident in using digital devices and are among the first demographic to try out new technology. When vision care providers understand this mindset, they are better able to address the concerns of this group of consumers.
Convenience comes in the form of being able to schedule vision exams at times beneficial to them, or not having to schedule an appointment at all. The last idea may seem a bit radical since traditional exams require going through a gate-keeper to set up an appointment, and then sitting in a waiting room wondering why your time for the exam has been delayed.
Smart Vision Labs has a simple and very effective solution. They offer a 5-minute Smart Vision Exam that doesn’t even require an appointment. When a millennial shows up at one of the participating vision care providers, the exam can begin.
There is a paperwork part of the vision test, in which consumers are asked basic information and general questions about their overall health. Specific questions about any eye problems or concerns will also be asked. Wavefront technology scans the person’s eyes, photos of the eyes will be taken, and all of the data will be sent to a licensed ophthalmologist to review. If a prescription is needed, it will be sent via email to the person within 24 hours.
Convenient? Yes. Millennials also appreciate the use of technology to store their vision care results and make their prescriptions accessible. Smart Vision Labs offers consumers a password-protected portal in which to view and download their prescription. And that prescription, as well as the vision exam results, will be accessible whenever they log in.
Millennials know the power of technology to offer a convenient approach to eye care. This consumer group will shun traditional and outdated business models in favor of more tech-savvy ones. When they want a vision exam, they will look for convenience (on their terms) and digital devices to streamline the process.
The future of vision care providers needs to include the very real expectations of millennials. Convenience is possible because of technology, yet there is a certain boldness that requires those in the eyecare industry to put it to use. When dealing with eye care and vision exams, there shouldn’t be a ‘let’s-see-if-the-market-is-ready’ approach; providers who are truly committed to eye health will use every means possible to encourage people to get regular vision exams.
Millennials’ impact on the eyecare industry is only just beginning. Besides being poised as the next generation of consumers, millennials are unique in several ways. There is an increase in myopia in this age group which will create a direct correlation to their involvement with all things pertaining to eyecare. Research is being conducted to determine the cause of this growing trend, and there is a popular theory that not only offers an explanation but may help define this generation.
The ‘near work’ hypothesis suggests that this age group has strained their eyes through reading and using smartphones and other digital devices. Another correlation appears to be between the increased education level of millennials and myopia.
These apparent causes for the frequency of myopia also define this group. They are very interested and comfortable with technology and place a high value on education. Millennials bring these traits to the opticians and optical stores and will shop according to where their beliefs are best implemented.
When purchasing prescription glasses or sunglasses, millennials look for frames that will create the image they want to project. This is a generation that loves all things unique, indie retailers, customized frames, and colors. Their view of glasses is balanced by the idea that they are not just an accessory. Form and function play a key role in their choice of eyewear.
And millennials are the group that will research how their prescription glasses and frames are made. They love to be part of the process through educating themselves. They ask questions and expect answers. They especially like to share their opinions on social media or forums.
Millennials are more than just a group of consumers; they are people who love connecting and expressing themselves. This can translate into sales for the linear-thinking marketers but for those in the eyecare industry who want to make a real impression, this is something to listen to. Give the millennials a voice and invite them to be part of the changes that are happening in this industry. Think of them less of a consumer and more of a partner.
Millennials know what they want, where to get it, and why it’s the best for them. And they love to share these thoughts with others. Opticians and optical stores should never overlook the impact of this generation.
Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
Buying glasses should not make you roll your eyes. It also shouldn’t make your eyes widen in disbelief at the price.
Enter the eyecare industry disruptors. These are people who have caught a vision of a better, simpler, and less expensive way to purchase eyewear. They are creating companies to promote their ideas; they are using social media to introduce these ideas; they are making a disruption in the industry that is scattering traditional ways of doing business.
And it’s all for the best of the consumer.
One of the trademarks of the eyecare industry disruptors is the breakdown of geography. By using current technology, consumers are not limited to a place for a vision exam or to purchase eyewear. Smartphones and the Internet open up possibilities that never existed before. Instead of going to an optical store to look at hundreds of frames, consumers can sit at a computer and view thousands of them. Add to that try-on technology in the comfort of home and the traditional business model doesn’t look so good anymore.
Most interesting about the eyecare industry disruptors is the fact that their vision extends worldwide. The viability of any change in a business model can be measured in the level of acceptance across a wide audience. Internationally, these disruptors are making inroads in areas that are diverse in culture, yet common in a desire to affect change in an industry that needs reform.
A look at some of these international industry disruptors will reveal a common thread of placing the purchasing power into the consumer’s hands. These companies offer new business models with some unique ideas. The end result is an industry that will be better able to address the real needs of consumers.
Industry disruptors are problem solvers. To succeed, they need a problem to fix.
The problem is numbers. For the first time, India is dealing with an aging population as well as a large one. As the country grew, so did the life expectancy. In 2015, the World Health Organization reported India’s life expectancy to be 68 years of age. In the 1990s, it was only 58 years.
This affects all aspects of the eyecare industry from prescriptions, to medical treatment, to corrective eyewear. Change is needed to more efficiently reach the many people who need it.
Consumers deal with a few different vision problems. As people get older, there is a greater likelihood their eyesight will weaken. There has also been an increase in instances of myopia. These people need corrective lenses to maintain their quality of life.
Many unchecked vision problems can progress into vision loss which is indeed what happens here. India has the largest population of blind people in the world. The market even reflects this. The biggest sectors of the eyecare industry here all deal with conditions which relate to blindness: cataracts, retinal disease, and glaucoma.
India’s problem is a lack of doctors to provide preventative vision care. Due to government regulations and insufficient training programs, India has only about one-third of the eye doctors it needs to provide care to all the people. But if the doctors are busy treating patients with glaucoma and cataracts, they just don’t have the time or resources to see the patient who just needs glasses. That patient who didn’t get to see the doctor goes without vision correction until it severely impairs their sight and the cycle continues.
This is the place the disruptors enter the market. Eyecare industry disruptors around the world share one common goal: accessibility to the consumer. They want their product to reach the people and areas left untouched by the largest companies.
Winkk addresses the frustration many people feel when trying to purchase eyeglasses. Only after navigating the frame selection and confusing lens upgrades with the “help” of a pushy employee does the customer learn the price of the eyeglasses.
They set out to offer frames that are both trendy and cost-effective. What is Winkk’s contribution to transparency in the eyecare industry? Their eyeglasses have a listed price which includes the prescription lenses. Offering frames that are both affordable and fashionable gives the consumer purchasing power and reduces the number of people going without vision correction due to a confusing sales experience.
Glassic was founded after learning the reason the eyewear market was so confusing and overpriced. Over 80 percent of the market was being controlled by a single supply chain, from manufacture to sale. The founders of Glassic are able to keep their prices reasonable by making their glasses in-house and cutting out the retailer by selling through their own website.
A few creative solutions allowed them to overcome the concerns of not being able to see yourself in the frames first and the unclear lens options. A virtual try-on which uses the customer’s webcam creates an experience just like testing frames in-person. Glassic addresses the lens selection issue with a unique algorithm which suggests lenses after the customer selects their power, ensuring the product they buy is their best option. This algorithm also eliminates the navigation of lens types as well as the price variation between different opticians.
Lenskart expands on convenience of shopping for glasses. By offering a vision exam at home, the consumer is not only able to get a lens prescription, but this keeps an optician free to care for a patient with more immediate issues. Certain areas are eligible for a home visit to try on frames. An employee brings 100 frame options and helps the customer with their purchase.
These innovative companies prove the power of a creative idea to change the status quo, create solutions, and assure the consumer that they made a good investment.
Three factors contributed to the eyecare industry disruption in Latin America: a growing population, a steady increase of people requiring vision correction, and runaway inflationary rate on eyewear. The first two factors seemed to point to a steady volume of consumers, but the rising retail cost of eyewear made them postpone or cancel purchases.
The traditional business model has merely assumed that a steady customer base equals steady sales. While this may be accurate to an extent, consumers have become more cost-savvy and will not purchase a product if they feel their best interests have not been realized.
Eyecare industry disruptors saw this and reacted by offering more cost-effective choices. In Latin America, this was done by two primary methods: acquisitions and partnerships.
For example, Luxottica, the eyewear superpower, increased their distribution by acquiring retailers. Having retail-ready locations for their manufactured products builds a strong competitive edge and gives consumers a network of locations to purchase eyewear.
Partnerships have a similar strategy but balance the power differently. Chilli Beans, the major retailer of sunglasses in Latin America, partnered with GoECart to run the e-commerce side of their business. This type of industry disruption embraces the technology that is available and makes product selection more accessible.
Yet, the eyecare industry disruptors in Latin America are not looking to just take over the competition, they are in the business with long-range and innovative goals. Lema21, the “Warby Parker” of Brazil, sells private label frames directly to consumers. They compete with designer brands, which are made in the same Chinese factories as their own products. The difference is a much lower price, averaging about $100.
But Lema21 didn’t stop with the monetary benefit; they added a virtual try-on tool and a home trial that ships four different frames to consumers. Now, people can shop conveniently, have choices, and save money. The industry disruptors listened to the consumers, made changes in the business model, and everyone walks away happy.
European consumers are welcoming the eyecare industry disruptors. In Germany, consumers are buying glasses online at an increasing rate, while industry experts predict an even bigger growth in this venue of sales.
Industry disruptors are responding to consumer concerns about buying eyewear online: the lack of an optician to provide advice when making a purchase. This can be remedied through a variety of means. Try-on technology and an easier return policy are ways to give consumers more confidence. Social media, blogs, and forums can connect customers to style experts both within and outside of the industry. All of these things contribute to a better buying experience.
Eyecare industry disruptors will concentrate on these issues since most consumers have stated that they are very satisfied with the lower costs of purchasing glasses online. Price is an overriding factor in consumer appeal and industry disruptors will continue to refine the entire process, stressing the personalization of each sale.
In France, Paul Morlet, the founder of Lunettes Pour Tous (Glasses for All), is making a bold claim: get a pair of glasses for 10 euros in 10 minutes. His democratic approach to making glasses both affordable and accessible is shaking up the core of the industry in this country. The basic idea is for consumers to buy glasses and leave with them the same day.
His business model is basic with lower prices, reduced markups, and large volume sales. His marketing strategy includes educating consumers about the high profits opticians enjoy as they sell glasses that are cheaply made in China. Truth-telling is a large part of the eyecare industry disruption strategy since no consumer wants to feel taken advantage of.
Throughout Europe, these same principles are steering the eyewear industry into new ways to do business. Cost, choice, and convenience are the keywords that consumers use, and industry disruptors are providing real solutions in these areas. While each country may have varying measures of progress in the disruption phase, industry experts see a steady increase of consumer confidence in purchasing eyewear online.
Technology and transparency in the eyecare industry is forever changing the view (and the resulting purchasing power) of consumers.
A trademark of industry disruptors is their lack of boundaries, either physical or creative. Japan-based Jins Eyewear perfectly captures this element of being a disruptor. Crossing borders and collaborating with tech, fashion, and business allow this company to make headlines.
Although they were unknown in the US, they operated over 300 stores overseas Japan and China. So why open a flagship store in San Francisco, California? Because the trendy city is a great fit for their brand of eyewear that is fashionable and tech-savvy. Young, progressive cities are like a magnet for industry disruptors because they are full of the kind of adventurous consumers which startups need to succeed.
The technology allowing them to disrupt is Kanna, their in-house eyeglass manufacturing robot. Having a lens lab right in the store means not only are the materials sourced directly from the company, the manufacturing is too. Really embracing the concept of controlling the whole supply chain to keep costs down also results in the fast wait time between selecting and taking home a new pair of glasses. The Jins experience is going home with a pair of glasses for only $120 and 30 minutes of time. In San Francisco. The low cost enables their fashion-savvy consumer to have multiple pairs quickly and inexpensively.
The Jins flagship store has another unique collaboration: a fellow disruptor. 20/20 Now, who offer vision tests through video-conference, rents space in the back of the store. If you add an inexpensive refraction to your trip to Jins, you can still leave your visit with a new prescription and a new pair of glasses for under $200. Again, this is San Francisco.
The most important goal of industry disruptors is creating transparency. Regardless of the problems the eyeglass market faces, information is what leads to solutions. Overpriced eyeglasses and consumers who are kept in the dark about their true cost is a problem worldwide.
Eyecare industry disruptors are creating solutions. The fact that they are all working towards fixing the same problems shows the issues the market faces are due to the distribution model rather than their physical location.
The future of this industry rests in the vision of these disruptors.
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Industry disruptors challenge traditional approaches in decisive ways; their independent thinking removes obstacles and replaces them with optimistic and effective solutions.
Disruptive technology is changing the eyecare industry. Innovations are reshaping the core of this business while restoring consumer confidence. Disruptors have followed a steady progression that has encompassed several key ideas.
Recognizing the need for change within the eyecare industry and coupling that with available technology began the course of disruptive innovations. Three main factors were addressed by the early disruptors: cost, convenience, and accessibility.
Traditionally, eye exams and eyewear had a prohibitive cost for many people. Industry disruptors used technology and innovative product development and procurement to lower the cost and keep the quality.
Convenience is a sought-after commodity in today’s busy world and eyecare industry disruptors made the exams and purchase of glasses and contact lenses easy. Smart Vision Labs, for instance, has a 5-minute vision exam (no appointment necessary) that can determine if corrective eyewear is needed. A prescription is generated and a secure online portal holds the patient’s information. Convenience encourages and motivates consumers and is a hallmark of change that disruptors bring to industries.
Accessibility takes the idea of convenience one step further by bringing eye care to everyone. Rural areas benefit, as well as the house-bound or anyone either physically or mentally unable to go for traditional vision exams. Eyewear can be purchased online and delivered to the door. All of these things make people more inclined to take an active part in their eyes’ health.
Who Are the Vision Industry Disruptors and How Do They Disrupt the Eyecare Industry?
The disruptive companies are creating solutions to long-standing industry problems. Specifically, they have been targeting areas of eye care and eyewear. Creating connections using the Internet rather than in-person introduces opportunities to reach new consumers.
Some of these innovative companies work toward making vision care available for everyone, regardless of their financial situation or physical location. In addition to the Internet, advancements in laser technology and the prevalence of smartphones assist these eyecare industry disruptors in providing another option to the status quo.
Opternative uses a smartphone and computer to offer an at-home vision test. In less than 25 minutes, the consumer gets a signed prescription to shop for their eyewear anywhere they like.
EyeQue’s Personal Vision Tracker uses an optical miniscope which works with a smartphone application to deliver your prescription. In addition to storing the results in the cloud, the app also tracks vision history and has customizable notifications about things from health reminders to current eyewear trends.
Eyenetra offers Blink, an at-home vision test performed by a trained technician. The “Visioneers” collect the person’s health history and use the Blink devices to perform a vision test before sending the results to a licensed optometrist within their network.
PUPIL has a free at-home vision test where the technician will also bring different frames for the consumer to try out. If they find something they like, they will have their glasses that same week.
20/20 Now uses HD video conferencing to get the client from exam to prescription in 15 minutes or less.
PlenOptika created QuickSee, a handheld autorefractor. This innovation came about specifically for places where glasses are very inexpensive but there is a lack of doctors to prescribe them. QuickSee allows doctors to work more efficiently, see more patients, and get them the proper vision correction.
Smart Vision Labs pushes the boundary of vision care further while setting the standard for convenience. Their 5-Minute Vision Exam uses technology similar to LASIK to create accurate prescriptions quickly. The consumer doesn’t even need to schedule an appointment.
Other innovative companies work to disrupt the fashion side of the eyecare industry, which has been forcing unknowing consumers to purchase their vision correction from the established leaders. Glasses and contact lenses are both affected by this problem but disruptors are working to change it. The benefit of affordable and accessible vision testing is diminished if the consumer can’t afford frames or be able to replace their contacts routinely.
1-800 Contacts was the first online retailer offering contact lenses. They have grown into the world’s largest contact lens store. The high volume they work with means they are the most likely to have exactly what the consumer is shopping for and at a low price.
On the eyeglass front, Zenni Optical began by offering low-cost frames and lenses. For under $9, you could get a complete pair of glasses, frames included.
Warby Parker disrupted the industry by making new ways to connect with the consumer. Being able to see how frames look, either virtually or through their Home Try-On, invites customers to take an active part in the buying process. These innovations, in addition to connecting through social media, really resonated with their target audience of young adults, proving they are a viable market.
Eponym provides a venue for smaller fashion companies to break into the eyeglass market.
Frameri builds on the online glasses market by trying something new: interchangeable lenses. Their lenses can pop-out of one frame and into another. This encourages people to try out new styles or change up their appearance easily without purchasing another lens.
Timing the Disruption
Eyecare industry disruptors know when it’s time to ‘better the business.’ Changes, of any type, are most effective when certain conditions appear.
Information and technology are the two elements that move disruptions from the idea stage to full implementation. Industry disruptors have pinpointed the areas for change and developed a strategy. Yet, to actually bring this innovative thinking into the industry requires the collective consciousness of consumers.
Information begins the disruption.
The eyecare industry has a secret or two. They have been pairing with vision insurance providers and retail eyewear manufacturers. This has created an uneven flow of money. People with vision insurance feel obligated to use that benefit but when they do, they are directed to in-network providers for both the exams and the eyewear.
The secret is that the consumer has other, more beneficial, options than their coverage suggests. Vision insurance has traditionally created a conduit for the consumer to receive eye exams and corrective products. Eyecare industry disruptors are offering choices that bring the power back to the consumer. This is done by comparing the options.
The insurance-priced versus the direct-priced methods show a significant monetary difference. A consumer paying directly for a vision exam or corrective eyewear can see a price drop of at least 50%.
The price change reflects information that creates transparency in the eyecare industry. When consumers see the actual cost of products and services, the idea of vision insurance does not seem so beneficial. Disruptors have seen the artificial inflation that has permeated this industry and have a plan to bring real options to the consumer.
Technology helps to not only spread this information but it also provides access to exams and products in a cost-effective and convenient way.
Smartphones can be used for vision exams, and cloud-based technology can send and store patient information. Try-on software can make buying frames easier and 3D printing can create custom looks for consumers.
Information paired with technology uncovers secrets and creates solutions. Disruptions give power to the people.
Eyecare industry disruptors see the need for change and offer real solutions.
Where are the Disruptions Taking Place?
That’s the best part about the eyecare industry disruptors—they are making changes everywhere.
The disruptive technology can be accessed from any location. There are no geographic boundaries that limit the spread of information and innovations that are reshaping the eyecare business. Rural communities benefit as well as those in large metropolitan areas. These disruptions are removing geography as a factor in maintaining eye health.
But physical location is only part of the ‘place’ where the disruption is occurring. The mind is another vital location where the industry disruptors are making their presence known. Consumers are getting knowledge about how vision insurance has created an option to maintain eye health at a cost to the very people they seek to help. That cost is monetary but also comes with a loss of personal freedom.
Being directed to certain places for vision exams or to purchase eyewear limits choices. When there is no competition in an industry only a few companies set the price. Consumers know that the price of corrective glasses and frames is very high, yet the actual cost of this product is not.
Eyecare industry disruptors put price and cost in their proper places to benefit the consumers.
When a disruption is taking place in an industry, it will never be business as usual. And that’s a very good thing.
The eyecare industry has maintained a status quo existence for a long time, so why should we welcome these industry disruptors now?
The single word answer would be ‘motivation.’ These eyecare industry disruptors are motivated to change a business that has become stagnant and cost-prohibitive. By embracing and using current technology, the business of eye health can—and should—have a fresh new look. And that will positively impact every consumer.
Disruptive technology is currently in place to address real needs and concerns. Consumers already understand the value of vision exams and using prescription eyewear if needed. However, what they don’t understand is the inconvenience and prohibitive costs associated with this industry.
Eyecare industry disruptors do understand. They have technology in place to bring the vision exam to the patient, whether it’s a rural area or a place that doesn’t require such a stringent time frame. Patients do not want to schedule a vision test around their work or school schedule. Time is valuable to them.
Disruptors believe in transparency in the cost of eyewear which is another huge concern to consumers. Price and cost have not been fully explained to consumers and therefore, the traditional industry method of distribution has favored the manufacturers. Disruptors challenge the current business model and invite the purchasing power of the consumer to come alongside them.
But perhaps the biggest innovation that eyecare industry disruptors bring is the power of choice.
They recognize that change needs to be implemented to address the valid concerns of consumers. They use disruptive technology to create a new industry standard. They form innovative companies that not only herald the change but spearhead the movement.
The result is an improved vision for the eyecare industry and one that is motivated to connect consumers to more affordable ways to care for their eyes.
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In baseball, hitters are said to have a ‘good eye’ when they can distinguish between balls and strikes better than average. A ‘good eye’, though, is associated more with good judgment and restraint than with excellent vision. Sports vision care is vital to athletic success.
For all the physical traits valued in young athletes—strength, agility, speed, endurance, etc.—there is little focus on vision. And yet it appears self-evident that good vision is of utmost importance in any sport.
“Participation in sports and recreational activities continues to increase exponentially each year, and there has never been a greater opportunity or need for optometrists to meet the unique vision care needs of athletes.” –AOA Sport Vision Section
The Sports & Vision Section of the American Optometric Association (AOA) states, “Vision, just like speed and strength, is an important component in how well you play your sport.” For baseball alone, the AOA lists 17 skills important for success: peripheral vision, depth perception, speed of focusing, color perception, and eye dominance, to name a few. Excellent depth perception, for example, is crucial for fielders judging the trajectory of balls hit high into the air.
Mobile optometry equipment can increase the ease and frequency of eye exams for athletes. At the highest levels of competition exercise regimens are planned down to the minute and nutrition measured down to the gram. Here, the ability to fine-tune a prescription month-to-month or week-to-week could prove essential.
The low cost of new handheld mobile optometry equipment expands opportunities not only for optometrists specializing in sports vision care but also the number of optometrists that can explore this specialty. Sports vision care is essential for athletes at the highest level of play as well as developing athletes at all levels.
In sports, there are winners and losers, but the advent of handheld, mobile optometry equipment is a win-win situation.
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