How to Attract Millennials to Your Optical Store - Smart Vision Labs

Bridging the Gap Between Your Optical Store and Millennials

Bridging the Gap Between Your Optical Store and Millennials

Yes, I did say Millennials. And yes, they are crucial to the success of any business.

The preceding generations like to poke fun at the Millennials — as we’re supposedly wedded to our smartphones, inundated with technology, and consumed with an insatiable desire for instant gratification. But are these really such bad things?

Of all the generations, Millennials are by far the largest, making up for almost 92 million Americans. And as they begin reaching their primary years of working and spending, their impact on businesses and the economy as a whole is going to be monumental. The fact of the matter is that its population size coupled with these attributes — those that are so frequently made into the punchlines of jokes — is exactly why they can either make or break your business.

A recent study showed that the Millennial Generation is expected to spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017 and around $10 trillion in their lifetimes. Recognizing how vital it is to capture their business is the first step to bridging this potentially large gap between your store and this generation, and subsequently creating a lasting, successful business.

The importance of marketing your product specifically towards them

In order to capture a younger customer base, you must first market your product in a way that will specifically appeal to them. Out of a survey of 6,000 optical stores, 80% of them said that the Millennial Generation is either “important” or “very important” to their business. And of the same sample of stores, respondents said that 45% of their stores’ frame assortments target a Millennial customer base. Carrying a product that will bring in their business will drastically improve your sales, as they’re the generation spending more money than any other, and saving far less.

Millennials are all about encountering the world on their own terms. They’re the first generation to have grown up on personalized internet marketing, only one click away from hundreds of options tailored specifically for them. Perhaps why there’s such a negative connotation with the word “Millennial,” this generation expects to receive exactly what they want, customized to their particular preferences, and — as if this wasn’t already enough — we want it instantly.

Do brand names really drive sales?

Not entirely. Well, at least that’s the case for Millennials. No longer do we live in the days where everyone’s buying the reflective “Top Gun”-esque aviators. And well, maybe that’s not such a bad thing… Younger generations today increasingly care more about cost and quality than they do with what’s considered to be “cool,” especially when it comes to fashion trends. The way Millennials perceive fashion trends is on par with that of music trends; “Ha, I only liked that song before it became popular.” We are, after all, the “hipster” generation.

A recent study shows that 55% of people ages 16-24 and 56% of 25-34-year-olds disagree with the statement that they tend to buy branded products. Even when shopping in stores, with smartphones readily available, consumers today tend to compare prices and quality of similar products when making purchases. With their particular affinity for technology, the entire retail industry is changing, as the ability to read reviews on what’s supposedly the “hottest brand” might dissuade consumers from purchasing them when they read that you’re paying for the brand, not the quality.

So the primary takeaway here; when you’re marketing towards Millennials, focusing solely on a product’s brand name does not suffice in making a sale.

Let’s go back to this whole “instant gratification” idea

As I said earlier, one of the main attributes of the Millennial Generation is their natural aptitude for technology. With technology comes convenience, satisfying one of the primary desires that so many Millennials have: a need for instant gratification. Millennials have often been called the “Convenience Generation,” the first to grow up with so many aspects of our lives being facilitated with technology and the Internet. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that a recent study concluded that 70% of Millennials say they care most about convenience when it comes to making purchase decisions. But we swear — we’re really not lazy…

The stereotypes of us are somewhat justified — we do have unhealthy obsessions with our smartphones. We get rides from Uber, we listen to music on Spotify, we order food from Seamless, we even find dates on our phones through Tinder or Bumble. Everything is either a click — or a swipe right — away. From ordering late-night Chinese food to “ordering” potential significant others, we’re used to getting what we want, when we want it. Chances are if it’s not a convenient transaction, we’re probably not interested.

But I’m not saying that this means all shopping gets done on the Internet. Particularly in urban cities, with the ease and convenience of dozens of stores being located within single digit block radiuses of each other, many young people still return to the old brick-and-mortar stores in their neighborhood to do their shopping.

But even on a larger scale of all types of locations, a slight majority do, in fact, prefer in-store shopping. A recent survey of Millennial respondents showed that 53% of them still shop in stores, and not online. Consequently, ensuring that your store has options specifically geared towards and personalized to Millennials will prove to be remarkably beneficial to your business and will substantially increase your capture rates.

The Benefits of Optical Telemedicine - Smart Vision Labs Infographic

So what’s the big picture?

Millennials are increasingly “swiping right” on telemedicine and adopting Smart Vision Labs technologyIn the grand scheme of things, the most substantial statistic of them all is that 70% of Millennials care most about convenience when making purchase decisions. So now imagine this; what if you could have the ability to adopt a certain technology that will satisfy this fundamental aspect of their shopping habits. Well, you easily can.

Optical telemedicine can significantly help in attracting a younger customer base, and Smart Vision Labs’ partners have already seen significant improvements in sales by implementing telemedicine in-store vision exams. Through an inexpensive 5-minute exam, with no appointment necessary, optical stores who use the Smart Vision exam have been successful in attracting Millennial customers, and have even been able to grow their business by 25% or more in only a few months.

We truly are the “Convenience Generation,” primarily focused on fulfilling our need for instant gratification. We’re wedded to our smartphones and any other type of technology that makes our lives easier and allows us to waste more time scrolling through irrelevant clickbait on the Internet. Technology has revitalized almost every aspect of our daily lives, and the trends are showing that Millennials are increasingly “swiping right” on telemedicine.

Related Posts

Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition

Issy Bonebrake is a born-again New Yorker living down in the Village. She considers herself to be a self-proclaimed, cautiously optimistic futurist. As a classic rock aficionado, she enjoys binge watching rockumentaries from the coziness of her less than 500 square footage apartment. Issy is a happily dissatisfied Millennial.


Telemedicine at Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine Is Not the Future: It’s the Present

Telemedicine Is Not the Future: It’s the Present

If you ask most healthcare professionals about telemedicine, you’ll most likely receive a response indicating profound interest and support for these changes to the current healthcare system. Telemedicine has the ability to connect patients with doctors through the convenience of smartphones, computers, and the internet. And more and more doctors are adopting this innovative technology to treat their patients. It allows for a primary care or allied health professional to consult remotely with a patient and, if needed, a specialist assisting the primary care provider, to render a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

An increasing number of patients are expressing their interest in receiving treatment through telemedicine. A recent study showed that 77% of respondents would be treated virtually, but only 20% of them have actually done it. The healthcare market’s supply of telemedicine is not yet fulfilling consumer demand. But research suggests that the growth of the telemedicine market is about to soar.

Who is Using Telemedicine?

The impact of telemedicine is already increasing exponentially. Currently, over half of all U.S hospitals now use some form of telemedicine, a number predicted to increase with the profound number of healthcare services that can be offered through telemedicine. And aside from just hospitals, over 90% of healthcare executives have already begun developing or implementing a telemedicine program into their organizations. Through these technologies, doctors can provide treatment for chronic disease management, mental/behavioral health, rehabilitation, dermatology, radiology, primary care, vision care, etc. It’s no surprise that its influence is becoming so widespread.

Currently, there are over 200 telemedicine networks, with 3,500 service sites in the U.S. To put that into perspective, just speaking in terms of cardiac care, almost one million Americans are currently using remote cardiac monitors. Think about the other millions of patients using telemedicine for other types of treatment. As consumers continue to search for low-cost and convenient treatment options, healthcare facilities that offer such types of treatment will likely be rewarded with numerous patients’ business. Telemedicine’s reach extends far beyond just the U.S., with over 2.1 million people receiving annual diabetic retinopathy telemedicine exams in the U.K. Such exams have significantly reduced the cases of new blindness amongst adults.

The increasing impact of telemedicine - Smart Vision Labs Infographic

Why You Should Take Part in the Telemedicine Revolution

Despite some controversy surrounding telemedicine — with certain Doctors skeptical that patients will rely solely on these new technologies and neglect their necessary in-person checkups — many doctors are embracing these new technologies, believing that telemedicine is shaping the future of healthcare by facilitating their single largest goal: treating as many people as possible. And thanks to telemedicine, this is now more possible than ever. The benefits of becoming a telemedicine doctor are seemingly endless. Take a look at these five aspects that telemedicine doctors’ consider to be the best parts of the job:

Helping as many patients as possible:

Telemedicine helps bridge the often large gap between doctors and patients. Through managing both time and distance, these technologies provide on-call care while transferring unnecessary in-person visits to the convenience of virtual ones. In particular, people living in rural areas who are hindered by mobility or transportation issues are now at greater ease to receive care. Geography and time constraints no longer play such a large factor in patient treatment. From a global standpoint, there are endless people being treated through telemedicine. Around the world, millions of patients use telemedicine to monitor their vital signals. Think of the benefits to patients in third-world countries with little to no access to healthcare. Telemedicine helps to solve this fundamental problem of the scarcity of doctors in certain parts of the world.

Recognizing the potential to treat hundreds of more patients, both in the U.S. and globally, many doctors are expressing interest in taking part in these cutting-edge healthcare technologies. In fact, 89% of healthcare executives predict that telemedicine will transform the U.S. healthcare system in the next decade. And the increasing trend of the number of doctors joining telemedicine networks mirrors this very prediction.

Financial gains:

Many doctors see telemedicine as a way to earn supplemental income. Without telemedicine, doctors might actually be losing some potential revenue. Telemedicine allows for doctors to earn extra income from the convenience of their own home. As it is, doctors don’t get paid for the time spent writing prescriptions and discussing medical treatment with patients demonstrating non-critical symptoms over the phone. That time spent is taking away from the time they could be spending with patients who are physically in their waiting room, in need of in-person, more serious treatment. So imagine if doctors could be paid for writing those prescriptions and speaking with those patients over the phone? Well, they can, thanks to telemedicine.

Time-effective for both doctors and patients:

A recent study shows that the average wait-time for a new patient to see a physician in metropolitan cities is 18.5 days. Telemedicine helps to solve some of that wait-time by offering exams that take just minutes. A 2015 Software Advice survey found that 97% of patients were upset at long wait times at the doctor. By offering a quicker and more convenient alternative, patients are much more likely to get frequent checkups and seek treatment from doctors. Optical telemedicine has specifically addressed the issue of inefficient vision exams, allowing patients to obtain an updated eyeglass or contact lens prescription in a much more timely manner. Smart Vision Exams take just 5 minutes, with no appointment necessary, while also eliminating the need for a doctor to be conducting the exam. By being able to review the exam results at their own convenience, doctor’s are able to prescribe eye prescriptions much quicker and in much greater volume. Smart Vision Lab’s CEO, Yaopeng Zhou, even predicts that just one telemedicine doctor could write a number of prescriptions ten times that of a doctor in a traditional healthcare system. With efficiency improvements to both patients and doctors, telemedicine significantly benefits both parties.

Reduces unnecessary in-person visits:

One of the primary issues that telemedicine tries to address is reducing the number of unnecessary in-person doctor visits. A recent study found that almost 75% of all doctor, urgent care, or ER visits are either unnecessary or could be handled effectively over a telecommunications platform. By eliminating some of these visits, doctors will be able to devote more time and efforts to providing treatment for patients that are in need of in-person care. Telemedicine essentially serves as large-scale director of traffic: sending patients to either an in-person or virtual visit, depending on their health status and the nature of their request.

As far as eye care goes, some states require patients to get an in-person eye exam in order to receive an updated contact lens prescription. But doctors from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Association of Optometry suggest that healthy, asymptomatic adults don’t need an annual comprehensive eye exam. Some observers have expressed concern that prescribing eyewear remotely will lead to a reduction in the number of necessary comprehensive eye exams. However, neither evidence nor logic supports withholding improved vision from a patient to coerce a more detailed eye exam.

Many patients actually prefer it:

Many people are focused on finding more convenient, cheaper alternatives. Telemedicine exams appeal to patients precisely because of the ease and accessibility of them. Doctors are noticing that these exams are resulting in more involved, proactive patients, seeking more regular treatment. A recent study showed that 7 out of 10 patients prefer to get common prescriptions via video visits. And again, another study showed that 77% of people are interested in trying telemedicine appointments. Healthcare providers that offer such convenient and time-efficient options are likely to receive increased business from patients looking for these services.

Why you should become a telemedicine doctor - Smart Vision Labs Infographic

The future of telemedicine

The role and support of doctors in the continuance of telemedicine are vital to its success. As more patients are likely to seek providers that allow them to receive treatment at their own convenience, more doctors are likely to get on board with such technologies. Telemedicine is not just the future, it’s the present. But it continues to have substantial potential for even more growth. With care providers interested in reaping the numerous benefits from telemedicine, we are certain that the supply of telehealth doctors will quickly meet its ever-growing consumer demand, and will truly revitalize the healthcare delivery model for generations to come.

Learn more about implementing telemedicine with these related posts:

Who Should Be Involved in Implementing Telemedicine?
Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?
How to Get your Company on Board with Telemedicine Vision Exams
Questions About Ocular Telemedicine?
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them


Keys to Implementing Telemedicine - Smart Vision Labs

Who Should Be Involved in Implementing Telemedicine?

Who Should be Involved in Implementing Telemedicine?

Implementing telemedicine into your company is a commitment, not just to the technology but to your whole team. As every business owner knows, for commitments to become successful ventures, everyone involved needs to be working toward the same goals. Introducing vision telemedicine to your company’s current mode of operation will require a group effort to ensure its acceptance and application.

Implementing Telemedicine with C-level Cohesion 

Some of your C-level executives may already be enthusiastic about the potential for increased profits and customer satisfaction that ocular telemedicine brings. But others cite reasons for concern about the profitability or plausibility of the success of this new technology.

A common objection they might raise is ocular telemedicine requires a company-wide startup cost for a service which not every customer will benefit from. And this is true. The exact amount of financial investment needed largely depends on how in-depth the eye care telemedicine platform you want to use is. But they all require some investment of both money (for any necessary equipment) and time (spent on training employees). That might be a valid critique of your attempted ocular telemedicine rollout if it wasn’t so short-sighted.

Let’s say your idea for adding vision telemedicine to your business means hosting a device based vision test in your optical store (or department). The vision test is going to attract customers and retain the ones window shopping your frames.

People will come to your shop for a quick vision test. They might like the affordability or wish to avoid the hassle of making an appointment at their eye doctor just to update their prescription. Whatever their reasoning, they are now in your store. An attractive display of seasonal trends, a showcase of popular designer frames, or a limited time deal might entice them to stay for a purchase.

The reverse is true as well. The window shoppers might spot a frame they like (and want to take advantage of a promotion you’re running) but they don’t have their prescription on them. Direct them right over to your ocular telemedicine platform and show how they can use your device to get their vision tested. The eye care telemedicine you set up in your store converted a browsing passerby into a paying customer.

But even people who don’t use the vision telemedicine technology themselves still hold the potential to generate revenue. Their mental perception of your company will improve. If your eye care telemedicine is marketed as being affordable for all, your company will be remembered as one who cares about and values the people of the town. Others may be impressed your company breaks the stereotype that established businesses have backwards practices and avoid taking risks or using technology. Even if they personally don’t use the ocular telemedicine platform, their correlation between your company name and things like “humanitarian” and “up-to-date” will be remembered in conversations with their friends in-person and with their followers online. The words (either spoken or typed) of a person genuinely associating your company with positive attributes are inevitably going to reach the ears (or eyes) of someone looking for a new optical store.

Employee Education is critical when Implementing Telemedicine

The necessity of quality cooperation inside a company implementing telemedicine isn’t limited to the executives. It is just as important to make sure your employees are as enthusiastic and well-educated about eye care telemedicine as you are. After all, these are the men and women your company will rely on to assist customers with using the ocular telemedicine equipment and offer advice on selecting a new pair of frames to go with the vision test.

To you, your employees might be an extension of your corporate ideals and a filled position. But to your customers? They are the face of the company. Your customers probably don’t even totally understand your job but they do know that Kevin in sales was very helpful when he showed they could take a vision test right in your store using ocular telemedicine.

But you’re running an optical store in the early stages of adding ocular telemedicine to your list of services. Your employees need to do more than create a positive impression and lead customers through sales. They need practical skills to use the eye care telemedicine platform your company offers.

The specific skills they need to learn depend on the kind of ocular telemedicine setup you went with. This is something to keep in mind when selecting a program, system, or service that is best for your company. The most successful vision telemedicine platforms operate on the concept that humans will be both using and benefiting from them.

Keeping simplicity in mind also prevents you from going overboard in trying to integrate too many systems for your store. When you’re searching for ocular telemedicine systems and equipment, you want to shop with your store’s problem areas in mind. Your vision telemedicine inclusion will function the best and show returns the fastest when you’ve selected something which merges well with your current practices.

What if your business is using ocular telemedicine as part of a long-term plan for growth? Use this opportunity to hire employees who are already familiar using telemedicine systems. Create job descriptions which are engaging, yet clear. A well-presented job posting will attract people who are passionate about their work. You want your employees, old and new, to feed off your enthusiasm and relay this to your customers.

Connecting Customers 

Your next responsibility as a business owner is to get your new (or newly-trained) employees some customers to use their skills on.

In this technology-dependent time, growing your business is more about efficiency rather than sheer volume of customers. An optical store using vision telemedicine technology is a perfect example of this. The goal isn’t to stuff as many customers as possible into your on-site eye doctor’s schedule anymore. This old solution just creates crowded waiting rooms, impatient customers, and overworked doctors.

An eye care telemedicine platform in your store is a far more efficient strategy for scaling. You’re creating an alliance with the company you chose for your vision telemedicine solution, supporting each other’s businesses. Working together with other companies to reach wider audiences, along with adopting new technologies and maximizing workflow efficiency, are why scaling your business has become the optimal path for growth.

But you still need to bring in customers to use your vision telemedicine device. That requires a marketing plan.

Your ocular telemedicine system will partially fall under your overall marketing strategy. But not entirely. Your company should consider a promotion specifically to support this new technology. Your new telemedicine solution should be introduced to the people who are going to make it a successful part of scaling your business: the customers.

These future customers need to know a few things about your new ocular telemedicine technology. They need to know the service is available and how to decide if it is for them.

How to go about this depends on the customer your company is targeting. Visualize who you want using this new technology in your store. Whatever advertisement or promotion you run in order to support your new telemedicine platform will need to reach this intended group, whether it is seniors, moms, or fashionistas.

For example, seniors might appreciate a promotion that highlights the affordability of telemedicine vision tests, like a traditional coupon. Busy moms can respond to a social media post about remembering to take time for self-care. The post can focus on the speed in which they can be in and out of your store for a vision test, yet still access their prescription to pick up glasses at a later date. Fashion-conscious young adults might prefer a contest. Whoever takes the most creative selfie and posts it with your company-specific tag can win a free pair of sunglasses.

The point is that promoting your ocular telemedicine service isn’t only about coupons and discounts. It is about engaging your customers with targeted material which shows that you’re interested in their business.

You also need to make sure that the promotion is not only engaging for the intended customer, but that they will see it. A coupon intended for seniors but posted on social media isn’t going to reach the people it is meant for as well as a newspaper ad or a commercial on the local news would. Likewise, promoting the selfie contest in the newspaper would be a waste of funds when it belongs on social media. Again, picture your target consumer, what they like to do, and where they socialize. That is where your marketing needs to hit.

Team Telemedicine

Any optical store owner could run a business utilizing ocular telemedicine. But any successful optical store owner knows it takes more than a financial investment to meet projected ROI. Incorporating eye care telemedicine systems into an existing company is a team effort; from the corporation leaders to the front line employees to the supportive customers.

Your executives should be the driving force on the business side. Unified support and forward-thinking are required to get through the initial steps of purchasing and integrating an ocular telemedicine platform.

Your employees are going to create a stable junction between those corporate goals and the targeted customer base. Staff who are both friendly and knowledgeable create a positive experience for the customers who pay your store a visit.

Your customers are what keep your business financially running. Their support, through their purchasing dollars and praising your business to friends and family, will help connect your vision telemedicine program with the people who will most benefit from it.

Not only do these groups of peers work together, they work with each other to create financially successful businesses known for quality care.  Introducing vision telemedicine highlights the value, both potentially and practically, of everyone who interacts with your optical business.

Learn more about implementing telemedicine with these related posts:
Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?
How to Get your Company on Board with Telemedicine Vision Exams
Questions About Ocular Telemedicine?
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them

Download your free e-book, How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine Revolution.”

 


How to Implement Ocular Telemedicine Vision Exams - Smart Vision Labs

How to Get your Company on Board with Telemedicine Vision Exams

How to Get your Company on Board with Telemedicine Vision Exams

Implementing ocular telemedicine in your company may start with an executive decision but the key factors also include employee participation and recognizing the real role of the technology. While the telemedicine platform offers immediate value to a company, there are a few behind-the-scenes acts that should come first. Savvy CEOs understand that the core of telemedicine is people, and creating better patient experiences start in the personnel department. Getting your employees to not only accept but to embrace the role of telemedicine for vision exams is significant to success.

Eyetailor success with Smart Vision Labs telemedicine vision exams

What Comes First?

Just like the age-old question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg, implementing telemedicine vision exams into your optical retail chain carries the same logistical thought processes. Are you incorporating telemedicine because the technology is available, or are you seeking to use the technology to better serve patients and to streamline the day-to-day business operations?

The answer to the question is yes and yes.

For instance, an optical store may be looking to fill their sales quotas but also want to offer vision exams so they can sell glasses on days when the staff doctor is not on premise. Telemedicine can address these concerns.

As a convenient and cost-effective option, telemedicine can increase sales simply by its presence. Customers will recognize your company’s compliance with their expressed needs and will not only speak with their purchasing dollars but will express their approval with repeat business.

Telemedicine gives patients the benefit of ‘seeing’ a doctor even when that doctor is not physically on-site. The result is a person having a vision exam, when they wanted it, and then purchasing glasses on the same day.

The existence of the technology allows it to be effectively used.

Conversely, the effective use of the technology means it has to be in existence in your company.

Okay, just like the chicken and the egg question, there is not ‘first things first’ with the implementation of telemedicine. It’s more of a circular application, not just a linear rolling out of an idea or program.

While C-level executives and vice-presidents have to be involved in the implementation and pilot process, for vision telemedicine to be successful in any company, all of the employees need to be onboard. Recognizing the learning curve for everyone involved is only half of the solution; this type of telemedicine works best in an atmosphere of complete acceptance. The employees, who will be using the technology with your clientele, should be comfortable and confident with the program. This will both reassure and encourage your customers as to the validity and value of ocular telemedicine to meet their needs.

But how does it all start?

INDUSTRY STATS

Vision testing stats - Smart Vision Labs

Employee Participation in Telemedicine

The basic instruction of employees to vision telemedicine will be an introduction about the specifics of the technology and its benefits to consumers. From this starting point, they can then understand that the implementation of this platform and its applications affect the business side, specifically that it will generate higher revenue, increase sales, and create higher satisfaction in the customer base.

The simple takeaway for employees is that ocular telemedicine is a health-centered alternative to traditional methods. It gives people more control over their eye care and how best to maintain eye heath. On a company level, it offers a healthy environment for the business to increase revenue and to be in a position as an industry leader.

Ocular telemedicine is best initiated among employees in two stages: introduction and implementation.

The first round of education is to show the employees that this technology is an improvement over business as usual. While previous methods of vision care have been effective, ocular telemedicine offers a way increasing productivity by helping them make better and faster decisions. This leads to new work practices that offer real economic and practical advantages. They will be able to track customer data more easily and meet sales quotas.

But vision telemedicine is more than just the business side. These new ways of operating within this technology-based platform creates the culture of the organization. This adoption-to-acceptance is a priceless commodity for any company. Once the employees are onboard mentally, the actual implementation of ocular telemedicine is simply a textbook-like application.

Plan and budget for the actual communication and training required. No shortcuts, please. To create real value, prioritize what’s vital to succeed. Put a realistic time limit on the execution of the technology. Take into account intangibles like employees who aren’t naturally tech-savvy, and those whose first response to anything new trends toward negativity. Both of these groups of people can be effectively countered through changing mindsets and behaviors. When employees see the value of telemedicine vision exams, they will understand their own place within this platform.

Customer success with telemedicine vision exams - Digital Optiks - Smart Vision Labs Partner

Technology is More Than a Tool

Telemedicine is more than technology to learn and use; it’s most effective when it is part of the strategy of the entire company. It’s not just an accessory but an integral part of day-to-day operations, as well as a vision for the future of retail optical enterprises. In many ways, the technology used to implement vision telemedicine is like internal marketing. A successful roll-out starts with the executive level positioning the changes in a positive light to employees. Once the staff embraces the technology, practical instruction begins.

Dare we say that is technology can be viewed as an employee? It’s not really a stretch of the imagination. Employees are in the company to enact policies and procedures, just like the role of the vision exam telemedicine platform. In a successful environment, the employee and telemedicine complement each other; the employee uses the technology and the technology guides the employees into more effective business practices.

optical retail stores sales lost when no doctor is on staff - Smart Vision Labs solves this problem

But before getting to the hands-on application, C-level executives have an important choice to make: choose the technology that works best for your team. Although functionality is critical, it needs to be user-friendly. If the goal is a high and quick adoption rate, it’s best not to choose a program that requires multi-day training or user manuals that can double as doorstops.

The technology that is chosen to implement ocular telemedicine in your company should reflect the overall culture of your business. Consider that selecting a program that corresponds and complements your goals is just like hiring an employee with the right set of skills.

The Infrastructure of Communication

Infrastructure usually refers to physical components, yet, the successful implementation of ocular telemedicine needs the very real venue of communication. The company should have constant communication with the telemedicine company to ensure smooth operations.

This communication should begin prior to the actual purchase of the telemedicine platform. C-level executives usually begin the process of implementing ocular telemedicine by generating a list of goals they expect to achieve. Once the software lines up with the expectations, the next step is getting the company’s team onboard.

During the training stage, communication with the telemedicine company will ensure a smoother transition. Questions, concerns, and practical ways to introduce the technology to employees will best be answered by the provider.

Perhaps the most critical use of communication with the ocular telemedicine company will be during the earliest times of implementation. This will be the litmus test of whether the selection of the platform and the training of employees positioned the company for success. Troubleshooting and technical support will be the definitive tools that ensure compliance and confidence.

And let’s not forget the benefit of communication on the home front. Encourage employee feedback on the technology, both on its ease of use and the practical results realized in the business. By letting your staff know that communication is a two-way street, they can provide valuable and honest critique on the transition to ocular telemedicine.

Prevent lost sales at your optical shop when you have the ability to issue an rx for glasses with a telemedicine solution from Smart Vision Labs

Keep it Real

Implementing ocular telemedicine is an effective strategy in this industry, both on the corporate and patient level. The applications of this technology provide benefits to both areas while reducing costs across the board. Getting your company on board with this platform is simply combining the program and the personnel within an environment that encourages communication.

Ocular telehealth programs have become a necessity in this industry as well as a viable opportunity. The need to serve more patients in a resource-strained field welcomes the implementation of telemedicine. As a company which brings this technology onboard, there is potential for increased revenue, as well as taking on the more lucrative role of leader. The telemedicine technology is not just consumer-driven; it has the capabilities of influencing the entire optical industry, from the legislation level to the local stores.

The companies which successfully implement ocular telemedicine create a network of primary eye care providers, specialists, and patients. However, this network does not remain static; it can serve as a catalyst for new ways of screening, diagnosing, or managing eye health. It can even be the voice of change.

Ocular telemedicine can make a real difference, to patients, providers, and anyone in the industry. The decisions made to implement it into your business can reap rewards beyond the financial ones. This technology is proving its effectiveness in companies every day. By delivering more efficient, cost-effective care, your ocular business will use innovation that is currently evolving health policies and eye health care delivery models. And it’s this type of vision that everyone will want to embrace.

Related Readings

Telemedicine of Today
Vision Industry Disruptors!
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them
Why Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine

Download your free e-book, How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine Revolution.”

 

 

 

 


Get answers to telemedicine questions at Smart Vision Labs

Questions About Eye Care Telemedicine

Got Questions About Ocular Telemedicine?

Whether you’re currently knee-deep in ocular telemedicine research or are doing some investigating after hearing about it on a podcast driving to work, you might want to examine your business to see if it is showing signs that it’s ready to adopt ocular telemedicine.

Should Your Company’s Next Step be Ocular Telemedicine?

Is your business reaching all the people it should be? It might be that your company is located in one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else (all 15 of them). Maybe talking to your current patients revealed that they are the ones who travel a bit of distance to access your care.

Perhaps your company has a humanitarian mission statement, believing that everyone should have access to vision care and great doctors. Are you specifically looking to reach out and offer this to people who are disabled or have chronic health conditions? Your business might have a goal of creating access to a whole network of doctors for people who had few, if any, choices.

Other signs your company is ready for eye care telemedicine involve your cash flow. Is your patient satisfaction high as a result of you taking many phone calls which cut into your bottom line? Alternatively, your online reviews may show unhappy clients frustrated with long wait times and difficulty in scheduling appointments. Both of these affect how much money your company generates. You can’t keep clients happy at your own financial expense (and stay in business).

Ocular telemedicine both addresses these problems and creates room for your company to grow.

INDUSTRY STATS

Telemedicine Questions and Supporting Data - Smart Vision Labs
Source: PwC

You’re Interested in Telemedicine, but is Your Team?

So you’ve done the research, and like the potential returns (both in how people see your company and how you see your investments), or decided it’s necessary in order to give as many people possible quality vision care.

What about your team? Are they capable (willing? nervous? excited?) of using telemedicine technology to provide eye care?

These next few points will show your employees that incorporating new technology into their existing work flow will actually ease their responsibilities. It can reassure them their part in using ocular telemedicine will be more like the medical personnel they are rather than a rocket scientist.

Speaking of… What Equipment is Needed to Run Vision Telemedicine Solutions?

That depends on which kind of ocular telemedicine services you’re interested in adopting. One of the great things about eye care telemedicine is how it can be customized to suit your company’s specific needs. With an idea about what you want to accomplish by introducing vision telemedicine and some research on different solutions, you can select an option which has no more equipment than necessary. And you might be surprised how little equipment may really be needed.

Especially because you are interested in vision telemedicine, there are options which only need a minimal amount of new equipment. Some ocular telemedicine solutions use proprietary portable refraction devices, which serve to accomplish the same feats the equipment which takes up half your exam room currently does. Other vision telemedicine platforms allow people to take vision tests using technology they already own, such as smartphones or webcams. The service then (securely) sends the results to a licensed ophthalmologist to be interpreted and emails a prescription back.

Does New Tech Mean We Have to Hire a New Team?

There are two parts to the staffing situation when introducing ocular telemedicine to your business:

One: “None of my staff is super interested in tech. Do I have to hire new employees to work solely with this ocular telemedicine solution?”

Two: “I really like my current team, even if they aren’t super tech-savvy. What do I have to do to get them comfortable with vision telemedicine?”

Like in the case of necessary equipment and new technology, how much these new changes affect your staff varies on the type of vision telemedicine platform you chose.

Good news for your current employees is that it really isn’t necessary to hire a whole new crew of vision telemedicine specialists.

Potentially bad news for your staff members who seem to be allergic to new things: someone from your telemedicine support company is likely going to be visiting your office for some employee training.

     INDUSTRY STATS

Questions about Telemedicine With Supporting Industry Data - Smart Vision Labs
Source: PwC

Telemedicine + Team = Training?

The rest of this equation involves your current staff. What training is needed to get them ready to use your company’s new ocular telemedicine solution confidently and efficiently?

Well, what kind of vision telemedicine do you think suits your company best? The less involved solutions need very little staff training. For a company who wants to invest in ocular telemedicine but isn’t sure how much their current employees/older patient base will respond, these simple offerings can be a way to test the waters.

Common Corporate Objections to Telemedicine

One of the objections you’re likely to face is the suggestion that people won’t use the service, therefore, it either won’t pay off or is too much of a gamble. But surveys asking whether people are interested in using telemedicine services are extremely positive. Time and again, results show that anywhere from two-thirds to three-fourths of people are willing to try telemedicine. Few other technologies have shown such public interest in early stages.

Another selling point refers back to the varied equipment and training requirements. Offering ocular telemedicine does not mean you’re investing in expensive equipment. You may choose to simply have something like a Smart Vision 5-Minute Vision Exam, hosted in your optical store. For a minimal investment, you can now advertise an appointment-free vision test. This familiarizes people with your business, labels it as tech-savvy, and generally creates a positive view of your company. Attracting customers with new cutting-edge technology is a useful way to introduce them to your other offerings, such as glasses.

If their concern is that ocular telemedicine is just a passing trend, show that more than just doctors and patients are taking note. Vision telemedicine is being recognized and reimbursed on par with in-person visits in many states. Laws and regulations are being created to respond to the new technology yet it retains bipartisan support. The speed and affordability of vision telemedicine cannot be ignored, especially for patients who struggle with the current system, such as veterans or those who can’t buy insurance.

INDUSTRY STATS

Industry Data to Answer Questions about Telemedicine
Source: PwC

How Long Before my Business Reaps an ROI from Telemedicine?

Short answer: how long it will take to see your return will depend on your investment.

Long answer: the length of time it takes to make your initial ocular telemedicine purchases pay off varies too much (depending on which services you’re offering) to really estimate a timeframe. However, the start of your payoff for these investments can be seen much sooner.

How soon? As soon as your company implements the vision telemedicine platform you chose. Immediately realized are reduced expenses. More return patients/customers. More new patients who heard your business has a telemedicine vision test that their current eye doctor or optical store doesn’t. People in both groups who choose your business because you are out-of-network, but remain affordable. The flexibility of vision telemedicine creates new avenues which open doors for more patients which generate more income (as well as provide vision care for more people).

What Should We Charge for Telemedicine Vision Exams?

Another aspect of determining your ROI involves the price you’re charging for the service.

Which (surprise?) depends on the kind of ocular telemedicine platform your store is using. If you just eased into the world of telemedicine with minimal investments, consider reflecting this in your pricing. Making the technology affordable will be more enticing for people new to telemedicine to try out. The opposite holds true as well. Are you the owner of the optical store in the trendy city and really went all out to provide a premium experience? Your price should show you’re confident that you’re offering a high-quality service.

The trendy store can do something the mom-and-pop optical store can’t because of their location, another factor to consider in pricing. The premium experience (and accompanying price tag) might not go over so well in a less-populated area with an older clientele. If your goal was simply to reach out to give vision care to people who can’t get to your office then offering the service doesn’t do much good if your price deters them. Checking out competing stores, both in the kind of vision telemedicine they offer and how they price it, will give you a solid range of numbers to work with when adjusting your own pricing.

There may be many questions about ocular telemedicine but they are being answered every day by businesses and medical practices that are putting this technology to use. The investments required both financially and in time spent training staff, have the potential to generate security for businesses while fulfilling humanitarian goals. Ocular telemedicine makes this happen.

Related Readings

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?
Telemedicine of Today
Vision Industry Disruptors!
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them
Why Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine

Download your free e-book, How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine Revolution.”

Telemedicine solutions from 1924
Telemedicine solutions from 1924

Is You Business Ready for Ocular Telemedicine? Smart Vision Labs can help you increase in store capture rates and sales

Are You Ready for Ocular Telemedicine?

Are You Ready for Ocular Telemedicine?

And by “you,” that means your company. Have you ever sat down and wondered if your business is reaching all the people it should be? Do you think you can provide better service to the patients who do come to you for eye care? Maybe you’re looking to differentiate your vision service in a busy market?

Offering ocular telemedicine can answer all of those questions.

Want to Reach More Patients?

Eye care telemedicine can serve people unable to physically get to your office (such as if they are disabled or live far away). Maybe your business itself is located out in the middle of nowhere because your mission statement is that everyone should have access to quality vision care, not just those in major cities. Virtual visits enable you to interact with people who aren’t in the same room (or building or city) as you. Connecting them with an eye care telemedicine service creates access to many more doctors. Before they might have only seen their local practitioner but ocular telemedicine services will connect them with qualified doctors from even around the world.

Many average working people like vision telemedicine as well, simply for the convenience. Some people may want to visit your office but cite time constraints, whether they are running a business themselves or are a parent with a full schedule of after-school activities to attend. Eye care telemedicine might be the thing which makes them choose your business over the one a few blocks over or is the deciding push they need to get their vision checked at all.

Adding vision telemedicine tells people that your office is up-to-date enough to know about the current technologies and tech-savvy enough to put them into practice. New potential patients inspecting your business for the first time don’t have much to go on outside your website and maybe some reviews. Listing ocular telemedicine as something you offer sets you apart while placing you at the forefront of this technology.

Want to Improve Your Standing with Current Clients?

Letting people opt for ocular telemedicine rather than a traditional office visit will reduce your office wait times for your in-person clients. Utilizing a vision telemedicine service will also open up access to more doctors for your patients to choose from, including specialists and physicians outside of the immediate geographic location.

What’s in it For You?
Is You Business Ready for Ocular Telemedicine? Smart Vision Labs can help you increase capture rates and sales

The quick answer is an investment that is both tech-savvy and financially sound. Yes, on its own, being the only shop on the block (literally?) that offers ocular telemedicine will work to put your business high on people’s list when looking for eye care. But it provides some actual (read: financial) benefits to you as well. Right now, you probably have a few people who call you up to ask questions about their vision or to refill their prescriptions. It might be more if you work in a rural area or serve a lot of people.

As you’re aware, these “quick” calls and emails quickly add up and chip away at your billable hours, which are your livelihood. Sounds like a job for telemedicine! By offering eye care telemedicine to your patients with questions or refills or questions about refills, you turn these situations which previously reduced your income into virtual visits. Your valuable time is paid for and your patients are cared for. Win-win!

Is your business ready for ocular telemedicine? If you nodded your head at least once while reading this article, then the answer is yes.

Related Readings

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?
Telemedicine of Today
Vision Industry Disruptors!
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them

Download your free e-book, How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine Revolution.”

 


Telemedicine for Veterans - Smart Vision Labs

Honoring our Veterans through Telemedicine

Honoring our Veterans through Telemedicine

Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, remembers all the men and women who died serving our country. It’s a day to reflect on their sacrifices and to honor their memories.

Usually, at the forefront of these observances are the veterans, men and women who have served our country faithfully and have been discharged from duty. They truly understand what it means to be part of the United States Armed Forces. While November 11 has been set aside to honor them, perhaps we should consider honoring them year round with some practical things.

Like healthcare.

Battling for Healthcare Benefits

Most people would agree that keeping our country safe is paramount, yet the people who willing serve our country often find themselves in a different kind of battle when their time in the armed forces ends. If the landscape of healthcare for veterans was a military operation, it’s no wonder that there are so many casualties.

Recent investigations of the Veterans Health Administration have uncovered problems with policies and practices that have resulted in excessively long wait times and secret wait lists at many Veterans Affairs facilities. Sadly, veterans have even died before receiving healthcare. This is no way to honor these people.

While comprehensive changes are promised to overhaul this entire system, there are ways to immediately support our veterans’ right to quality healthcare.

Telemedicine—Right Here, Right Now

Telemedicine is a simple and powerful concept: use technology to connect patients and doctors. Telemedicine breaks down the barriers of time and space, enabling patients to receive on-demand care regardless of geographic locations. The technologies support healthcare in many areas such as mental health, audiology, non-invasive cardio, dermatology, and vision exams.

What does this mean for veterans? Gone are the incredibly long wait times and gone are the “mission impossible” reasons why they cannot see the doctor on their own terms and times. What takes the place of these things is quality healthcare for the men and women who faithfully served our country.

Through the use of the telemedicine platform, health care access can be extended for veterans while creating a viable collaboration between a network of doctors. This technology is already being used and is generating positive results for both patients and doctors. Telemedicine is cost-effective, makes better use of time, and is available to everyone, regardless of mobility issues or geographic locations.

If a veteran needs to consult with a specialist or wants a second opinion, that is more easily accomplished through the telemedicine technology. How about a vision exam? That’s not only possible but is more practical. Ophthalmology and telemedicine are proving to be a perfect fit with on-site devices to collect data from the patient and licensed doctors reviewing this information through cloud-based technology.  The veteran is assured of a thorough and accurate vision exam in a timely manner.

Optical Telemedicine - Smart Vision Labs

Reconnoiter

Veterans are familiar with this term since any military action begins with a preliminary investigation to gather information and to assess strengths and weaknesses. If a veteran were to use this principle to examine telemedicine, the data would include the type of equipment necessary and the ease of operating such equipment.

The telemedicine technology uses devices that are accessible and familiar, like computers, tablets, and smartphones. Veterans can now come to many of the VA’s community-based outpatient clinics and connect to a doctor through these video technologies. They will be helped as they navigate the system and receive care from a physician.

For those veterans who may have mobility issues, are limited by transportation, or live in rural areas, telemedicine can come to them. Without leaving their homes, veterans can use this technology to connect to a doctor for a wide range of medical services. If they need to see a physician to have medication changed or to monitor a current prescription, telemedicine saves them the cost and inconvenience of traveling to the VA facility.

Telemedicine can help veterans win the battle for quality healthcare.

Doctor on Demand, a platform with which people can see doctors through videoconferencing
Doctor On Demand, a platform with which people can see doctors through videoconferencing

 

Telemedicine Specialties

The same things which make telemedicine a convenient and cost-effective service for average citizens make the difference between veterans being able to receive health care or not. Having access to licensed doctors, who may be in a different city or even country, creates a new route to health care. Affordable options, with or without insurance coverage, make the decision to see a doctor a question of health, not of finances.

The virtual communication link telemedicine creates between doctors and patients is a perfect solution to several problems common among our veterans. Skin conditions, mental health concerns, and vision exams are all medical issues which telemedicine is perfectly equipped to handle without sacrificing quality care. Veterans who have difficulty seeing a doctor in person, due to either physical or mental reasons, can now address these issues using telemedicine. Virtual vision tests using a smartphone, uploading images of a skin condition, or being able to talk to a counselor are all ways telemedicine can help veterans have quality health care and quality of life.

Skin Care

Dermatology is one discipline which has found a foothold in the field of telemedicine. Online communication and sending images is an affordable way to alleviate one’s fears about a strange spot on the skin or to find out if a mole needs removal.

Previously, if a veteran had to see a dermatologist, it might have been a day-long affair of coordinating family or friends’ schedules to help them get to the doctor and back safely. But using telemedicine turns that doctor trip into taking and sending a digital picture and filling out an online form with any symptoms. If a prescription is needed, the teledermatology site will connect your medication information to your local pharmacy.

Many common skin conditions and rashes can be cared for just as effectively using telemedicine as they can with an in-person dermatologist. Eczema, psoriasis, and acne are some skin problems which teledermatology is targeting and creating accessible and affordable treatment options. Once such service, FirstDerm, estimates that 70 percent of patients who seek help through their app can be treated with an over-the-counter medication. The remainder is referred to a local dermatologist for further examination. Treating skin conditions through telemedicine apps and sites can eliminate the time and cost associated with an unnecessary doctor visit.

The affordable aspect telemedicine brings cannot be overlooked. Many common skin conditions, while they can reduce the quality of life, are not life-threatening emergencies. People will turn to inexpensive, yet less-effective, ointments and creams from a drug store shelf rather than pay for insurance and out-of-pocket fees associated with visiting a dermatologist. Most telemedicine dermatologist services can be used for less than $100. Some even take certain insurance plans.

Dermatologist On Call, a telemedicine service which connect patients to dermatologists
Dermatologist On Call, a telemedicine service which connect patients to dermatologists

Mental Health

Mental health issues in veterans may have resulted from a combination of their dangerous service while abroad and inadequate care when back home. Two serious disorders which affect veterans’ mental health are Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD). The exact prevalence rates for these vary: between 11 and 30 percent for PTSD. Out of every 10 veterans who suffer from PTSD, at least 2 also have SUD.

Causes of PTSD are not only attributed to experiencing atrocities of war. High stress permeating the day-to-day war environment, the political climate surrounding the war, and high rates of sexual harassment for both men and women contribute to the prevalence of PTSD and other mental health issues. A RAND study on PTSD in veterans found that only 50 percent sought out treatment for their condition. Out of this group, only half found treatment which was merely “minimally adequate.”

Substance abuse is another problem plaguing the veteran community. Certain types of substances, namely alcohol and prescription medication, have high addiction rates in veterans. Studies speculate that there is a link between the insufficient mental health care offered to veterans (citing high rates of PTSD, depression, and suicide) and attempts to treat their condition on their own with self-medication. Other veterans with chronic pain management issues are given strong prescriptions which they then become addicted to.

There are many reasons so many veterans do not seek out treatment for mental health issues. For one, there is still a stigma associated with having a mental health disorder or seeking help for addiction. Veterans who were once strong in defending their country may be hesitant to admit what seems like “defeat.” Many soldiers also come from rural areas without a nearby VA medical facility.  Others may choose not to go to a doctor in a VA setting because of long waits or perceived lack of quality care.

Telemedicine offers a way to connect qualified mental health professionals with the veterans who need one. In a few ways, seeking mental health care through telemedicine is turning out to be an effective method of treatment. Both PTSD and SUD need to be met with consistent, recurring treatment sessions. The accessibility of videoconferencing with a doctor through an app versus driving to their office makes it far more likely the patient will show up for their “appointment.”

telemedicine breakthrough
Breakthrough, a telehealth platform for mental health

Vision Care

Another area where veteran-specific healthcare needs support is eye and vision care. As with mental health services, many veterans are either reluctant or unable to receive vision care from their local VA. If they can even access it. Other veterans are physically incapable of waiting long times for treatment from the VA or don’t qualify for care. Veterans who do meet the VA’s requirements for care may not meet the threshold for 100 percent of it to be paid for. Cost should not be a concern when health and quality of life is on the line, especially for a veteran who may have gotten their vision problems during their time of service.

Telemedicine for vision care has been growing and establishing itself as a changing force in the eye care industry. Average consumers have had access to smartphone-based vision tests allowing them the option to update their eyeglass or contact lens prescription without making an appointment at the eye doctor. This allows the consumer to have more control over their purchase, which responds to some veterans’ worry that their local VA doesn’t have adequate resources. These veterans are so frustrated with the system currently that they decide to seek out healthcare on their own for higher quality. Telemedicine for vision offers to meet these needs.

Not only does the patient get to select their own healthcare provider, they don’t have to leave their home or wait in a busy waiting room to receive care. Depending on their level of mobility, they can visit a local optical store hosting a Smart Vision exam or have someone meet them in their home with a portable vision test. Their results are sent to and interpreted by licensed optometrists who can write a prescription, if needed. They can then order contact lenses or glasses from an online distributor and test frames out using their webcam or by uploading a digital photo.

Telemedicine technology creates a way to honor our veterans by listening to and responding to their healthcare needs. Connecting doctors with patients using mobile apps and videoconferencing answers veterans’ needs for accessibility. Treatment options which are affordable, even without insurance, relieve their financial burden. Fields of medicine which cater to veterans’ problems in mental health, dermatology, and vision care improve their quality of life.

Yes, veterans like to be honored with parades, but when it comes down to day-to-day living, let’s give them better healthcare options.

Smart Vision Labs Eye Care Telemedicine Solutions

 

Related Readings

What Your Customers Want to See In Your Optical Store
Can Telemedicine Replace Your Eye Doctor
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them
What is Telemedicine? What Effect Will It Have on the Care of Your Eyes?

Download your free e-book, How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine Revolution.”


Why Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine

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 doctors - Smart Vision Labs

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.

Pink Socks: A community of telehealth and telemedicine advocates founded by Nick Adkins

Pink Socks: A community of telehealth and telemedicine advocates and thought leaders.

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.

How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine RevolutionTelemedicine 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.

Are you a doctor interested in joining the telemedicine revolution? Apply here to join our telehealth Ophthalmologist network of doctors.

Related Readings

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?
Can Telemedicine Replace Your Eye Doctor
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them
What is Telemedicine? What Effect Will It Have on the Care of Your Eyes?


Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store? - Smart Vision Labs

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?

Is your optical store meeting the needs of your customers? Do they purchase eyewear or do they leave because they don’t have a recent prescription? And before they leave without purchasing anything, do they ask why they can’t get their vision checked right there, right now?

4 Ways Telemedicine Can Work for You

  • It’s patient-centered.

Telemedicine provides people with a comprehensive way to purchase eyewear, from the vision exam right through to the selection of frames or contacts. Every owner of an optical store recognizes the frustration customers feel when they cannot purchase a new pair of glasses because they have an outdated prescription. Even though they swear their vision hasn’t changed in the past several years, it would be a disservice to their eye health to ignore the fact they need an exam.

But if you could offer these customers an on-the-spot vision exam using the telemedicine technologies, they can be assured of the right prescription and make their purchase as planned.

  • It’s convenient.

“Right now” are words that appeal to every customer. If they are in your optical store, they are looking to make a purchase. If they need a vision exam, “right now” is the perfect thing to say.

And the perfect pairing with these words can be something like the Smart Vision Exam. This autorefractor, made by Smart Vision Labs, is part of a self-guided system that conducts vision exams without the need for an on-site doctor. The technology is cutting edge: advanced wavefront aberrometry that measures vision imperfection. It uses an iPhone camera (making it much smaller than traditional autorefractors) but is as accurate (with a measurement error of one percent) when compared to the gold standard.

When you have technology like this in your optical store, you tell customers that you’re serious about the business of eye care.

  • It’s cost-effective.

Eye health is important to everyone but cost factors into many people’s decisions. Although vision insurance was supposed to level the financial playing field, it only seemed to direct patients to network doctors and facilities without giving them real cost-saving benefits.

Telemedicine changes that. When you offer technology for vision exams, you put the power of choice back into the patient’s hands. This is not only an affordable way to check vision; it’s a way to save money by putting dollars toward a convenient and accurate vision test instead of toward insurance that limits options.

  • It’s worth it.

How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine RevolutionYes, telemedicine is worth the time it takes for you to learn the system (very easy, really) and the financial startup costs. Yet, when you have an optical store, the entire profit and loss spreadsheet has another dimension.

It all goes back to the first reason on this list about being patient centered. Optical stores have a mandate from their customers. Eyewear should be available and affordable, that’s a given. But with the use of telemedicine to provide vision exams, you position your business as an educator about the larger issue of eye health.

When people know that your optical store offers a convenient and cost-effective way to have their vision checked, they will know that it’s worth coming to your business for their eyewear purchases.

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Telemedicine Myths and Facts - Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine Myths and the Truth Behind Them

Telemedicine: Myths and the Truth Behind Them 

How is telemedicine impacting your business? Whether you own one store or are the vice-president of a chain of stores, telemedicine can make a positive impact in several areas from increased customer satisfaction to an overall increase in revenue.

The field of telemedicine has been growing at exponential rates, in a direct correlation with the advances in technology. While this has been considered one of the biggest health trends within the past five years, there are several key elements that distinguish it from a temporary upgrade to a permanent player.

While most changes within a system originate from the top down, (with industry leaders creating a new environment) telemedicine is more of a product of the people than other types of trends. And it all starts with the defining presence of telemedicine.

Telemedicine Myths and Facts - Smart Vision labs
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What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. The keyword is “remote.” No longer do the health care provider and patient need to be in the same room or even in the same country. This is possible through the technology for live video interactions.

While it is the electronic advances that make this possible, it is the consumers who make this profitable (and not only in terms of dollars). Telemedicine is almost an extension of what people already know and accept. A majority of the population is familiar with video chat apps like Skype or Facetime. Most people have easy access to a computer or other mobile device. Technology-based telemedicine is, therefore, a smooth transition from apps that have every day use to ones that become more relevant to personal health care.

Who would have thought that an internet connection would literally upend this entire industry?

And who would have thought that consumers would not only actively use this technology but would find it convenient, cost-effective, and worthy to discuss via social media sites?

How is telemedicine impacting your business? If you’re still not sure about the possibilities and profitability, let’s review some myths and the truths behind them.

Myths about Telemedicine

If you’re not already one of the businesses using telemedicine to support your employees and bolster your revenue, why aren’t you? Is it due to misconceptions? Or just a lack of time?

Whenever a new technology or way of doing things appears, in any field, it tends to be met with skepticism. This is especially true when the new service or method goes in a different direction than the old way, rather than just improving on something that is already established. While asking questions is always a good thing, doing your own investigation for the answers is even better.

Maybe you’re researching telemedicine for yourself right now?

A concern regarding telemedicine is that it’s just a fad, rather than the next big advancement in the field. Doctors who have been practicing for decades aren’t jumping at the prospect of devoting their valuable time to learning technologies which might not be around in a few years’ time. Understandably so. These doctors have seen many health fads come and go over their careers.

However, many of the reasons both health care and business professionals cite for not investing in telemedicine are based on old information or popular misconceptions. Here are a few of the telemedicine myths that have gained the most traction (and why they aren’t factual).

There are two main areas of concern which feed the myths around telemedicine: quality of care and financial investment. Partial truths, outdated information, and misunderstandings about how telemedicine works generated these myths.

Quality of Care Myths

Telemedicine is complicated, confusing, or has too many components to learn.

The verdict: only if you want it to be. You don’t have to hire an IT specialist just to offer telemedicine. While there is a lot happening on the technology side, the part you are likely concerned with rests on the user’s side. Successful platforms have simple, intuitive user interfaces. Some telemedicine applications have even been designed using a traditional doctor’s feedback, which might make using it more familiar to you.

The versatility of telemedicine is beneficial for the provider as well as the patient. The many ways to implement it means you can tailor which telemedicine services would best suit your business, patients, and bottom line. All at the same time.

Telemedicine isn’t secure enough to ensure patients’ privacy.

The verdict: not necessarily. Like nearly anything that companies use, video conferencing comes in two types: consumer and business. Consumer platforms are meant for use by the general public while business-grade applications are created for a targeted solution.

It is true that consumer-grade video conferencing platforms (like Skype and its competitors) are not secure enough to be HIPAA compliant. However, telemedicine-specific technology does exist. There are video conferencing applications which were created solely for use in telemedicine and to honor HIPAA regulations.

Telemedicine can’t replace a physical exam, therefore, it isn’t worth offering.

The verdict: partial truth. It is true telemedicine can’t replace a physical examination but not every doctor visit really requires it. Doctors already give basic medical advice and hold simple discussions with their patients over the phone. Telemedicine just gives patients another option for addressing these minor issues.

Besides people with non-urgent medical concerns, telemedicine benefits other types of patients, particularly those with chronic conditions which need monitoring or those who need follow-ups to in-person visits.

Which is a hint about the next set of myths.

Telemedicine Can Help Grow Your Business - Smart Vision Labs

Financial Myths

Telemedicine is a waste of money and resources because people won’t use it.

The verdict: false. It turns out, people don’t like to wait for things, whether it is at the supermarket checkout, in line for a new smartphone, or for health care. Except with that last one, you don’t get to come home with a new gadget or favorite snack. Nearly everyone has a memory of sitting in their doctor’s waiting room for a quick 5-minute visit while everyone else seems to have fallen victim to flu season.

But, unlike waiting in line for a retail store, the time it takes to see a doctor is even longer. The average time to schedule doctor’s appointments in the United States is 24 days, according to Forbes. Major cities suffer even longer wait times.

Once the patient actually gets in the office, the situation still doesn’t improve. A 2015 Software Advice survey found 97 percent of respondents were upset at long wait times at the doctor, even though 45 percent waited less than 15 minutes. The same survey also reports that 75 percent of patients who have never used telemedicine services would consider trying them.

For non-critical cases, telemedicine provides convenience and flexibility for the patient. Providing supplementary care to traditional health appointments is the ideal use scenario for telemedicine. Think of the reverse side of that situation as well. A busy doctor, in the middle of flu season, uses an appointment block to see a patient that only needed a quick follow-up. Using telemedicine, that doctor can see another patient who does need a physical exam and offer care to the follow-up patient.

Telemedicine doesn’t allow for proper compensation or reimbursement for the doctor.

The verdict: no longer true. There are two aspects to the payment issue: ease of reimbursement and concern about doctors being properly compensated for their time.

Laws and regulations don’t evolve and update with nearly the speed technology does. Although telemedicine has been around for decades, its quick growth is recent. It was previously difficult for providers to be reimbursed for telemedicine use but state laws are finally catching up. 24 states so far have “parity laws” which ensure telehealth services are treated the same as an in-person visit. Insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid are recognizing telemedicine services as legitimate and reimbursing them on a par with traditional visits.

As for compensation, doctors might actually be losing revenue by not delegating some tasks to telemedicine services. Doctors already aren’t being paid for the time they spend refilling prescriptions or discussing medical information with their patients over the phone. That time could be spent with a patient who is physically in their waiting room while the routine prescription refill gets handled by telemedicine. Doing so also increases the satisfaction of the refill patient because you’ve created the convenience of allowing them to not even leave their home.

Telemedicine puts doctors at risk for malpractice lawsuits.

The verdict: false. It’s actually the opposite. To start, it is intended to supplement traditional in-person visits. It alleviates strain on already crowded offices while still offering care to patients who don’t need an exam. It saves money for patients and provides a new point of income for physicians. Telemedicine’s growth in recent years is related to these aspects of expanding health care options. Issuing a malpractice claim to a doctor who used videoconferencing with a patient is absurd when doctors have been discussing medical issues with patients over the telephone for decades. The service didn’t change, the technology did.

Telemedicine actually provides some additional protection against malpractice claims. Especially concerning post-op patients and those with chronic conditions, services like video conferencing create a new point of contact between patient and doctor. The patient can communicate with their physician more often and if problems arise, notice and treat them sooner. It also provides another means to document the services given.

How is Telemedicine Impacting Your Business?

Telemedicine Benefits - Smart Vision Labs
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Telemedicine impacts businesses in several ways. The technology is effective if you are either the provider of health care services or the facilitator of them. Whether you own an optical store and offer the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam, or are in charge of a chain of stores that need a boost in revenue, telemedicine can work for you.

This is perhaps the most significant change in the health care industry since it is embraced by a variety of people, from patients to doctors, to insurance providers. As business owners already know, implementing a new course of action requires acceptance and easy compliance, and with telemedicine, those conditions have already been met.

Telemedicine is not only profitable, it’s possible, and that’s the difference between failure and success. Making use of this technology adds value to your business in ways that will position you at the forefront of this healthcare trend that is revealing its true potential with every virtual visit.

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