The portable SVOne Autorefractor by Smart Vision Labs

What Is the Gold Standard: Subjective or Objective Refraction?

A Practical and Complementary Approach to the Gold Standard of Subjective Refraction– Wavefront Refraction

We recently held a webinar with optometrist Dr. Tihomira on how to incorporate telemedicine into your optometry practice. Dr. Tihomira is a leading optometrist who embraced telemedicine and is influencing the technology development. One of the main topics she discussed was how automated refraction and telemedicine technologies are challenging the gold standard of subjective refraction. Subjective refraction is widely accepted as the optimal refraction method in the industry, despite how variable the process can be. So if subjective refraction is not necessarily the most repeatable method, why is it still considered to be the best way to determine someone’s prescription?

The use of a manual phoropter to conduct a subjective refraction continues to be considered the gold standard in the industry. The question is why? This process is influenced by multiple factors including; the ambient lighting of the room, the quality of the projections system, the cognitive awareness of the doctor and the patient during the process, and both the doctor’s and patient’s previous experience with refraction. All these factors play a role in the determination of the final prescription and the accuracy of that prescription.

Doctors try to control as many variables as possible but ultimately refraction remains a very variable process. A clinical study published by Bullimore illustrates the variability of subjective refraction. The study compared refractions done on the same patient by two separate clinicians and found that, for sphere, the 95% limit of agreement varied from -0.9 D to +0.6D. The study also reported that automated refraction is more repeatable than subjective refraction.

Automated Refraction

Wavefront aberrometry is challenging this gold standard of subjective refraction due to the repeatability of its results. When measuring the visual performance the technology assesses two components of the visual system: the optics that form the retinal image and the neural processing that transforms the retinal image into perception. Subjective refraction has historically been unique among methods of refraction. In considering both components in asking the observer to choose between a series of options, the goal is to optimize visual acuity.

However, wavefront aberrometry together with visual image quality metrics are changing the old model. A study published this year by Hastings et al. showed that 72% of patients preferred prescriptions generated using wavefront aberrometry optimized by visual image quality matrix, compared to prescriptions generated by subjective refraction. The SVOne autorefractor will include wavefront aberrometry in September of 2017.

The SVOne Technology

The SVOne autorefractor uses Shack-Hartmann wavefront autorefraction to capture 3 images per eye, taking 3 seconds per eye. Through the analysis of up to 120 points, a Zernike decomposition algorithm extracts the low order aberrations and converts them to sphere, cylinder, and axis. There are several unique features of the instrument, one of them is a least-squares reconstructor algorithm that adapts to pupil size on the fly. The device also features an open field design with machine learning algorithm allowing the system to – as soon as optimal pupil alignment is achieved – autocapture the measurements, thus eliminating proximal cues and limiting accommodation.

The SVOne is capable of measuring a wide range of refractive error, from -14 D to +14 D sphere, up to -7 D cylinder in 0.01D increments and axis measurements in increments of one degree. As you can appreciate from the image shown here, the device is very small, nothing like the autorefractor you are likely to find in most optometric offices. Additionally, it weighs less than 1 pound. To make the transfer of data easy, the device has the capability to store data in a HIPAA compliant cloud platform that can send data to your EMR.

Clinically Proven Accuracy of the SVOne Autorefractor

Clinical study data has been able to highlight the accuracy of the SVOne autorefractor. A study published by Ciufreda et al. in 2015 showed that SVOne refraction is accurate and has higher repeatability than subjective refraction. The study was conducted using 50 normal adults age 18 to 34, all correctable to normal vision. For all subjects retinoscopy, SVOne refraction and subjective refraction were determined and the difference between each of the findings and subjective refraction were quantified using the 95% limit of agreement.

data results from Smart Vision Labs clinical study

The table above shows the values calculated for the 95% LOA in diopters for retinoscopy and SVOne refraction as compared to subjective refraction. The table shows that for sphere, retinoscopy and SVOne show the same limit of agreement. Also, this finding shows that SVOne sphere measurements have variability similar to that of subjective refraction between clinicians as previously reported. The SVOne measurements for cylinder and axis were a bit more variable than retinoscopy, but as the authors concluded that could be due to alignment error, something that has been addressed by the introduction of a stand to which the instrument can be attached to, thus virtually eliminating misalignment errors and contamination of cylinder and axis measurements.

2-subjective-or-objective-refraction-data

The next table above shows repeatability data of 10 subjects. The data shows that SVOne refraction had higher repeatability than subjective refraction. This finding is again consistent with previous reports by Bullimore et al. showing that automated refraction is more repeatable than subjective.

The adult study was very strong but clinically we also needed to test the accuracy of the device on the majority of the population. A study was conducted to test how well the device performs within the pediatric population. Conducted by Rosenfeld et al., the study showed that SVOne refraction is also accurate in children and has higher repeatability than subjective refraction. The study was conducted using 40 normal children age 5 to 17, all correctable to normal vision. The study followed the same design as the adult study.

3-subjective-or-objective-refraction-data

The table above shows the values calculated for the 95% LOA in diopters for retinoscopy from SVOne refraction as compared to subjective refraction. The data shows that while sphere measurements using retinoscopy were a little bit more accurate, SVOne refraction varied by only additional +/-0.2 D, less than a quarter of a diopter. And both methods showed the same LOA for cylinder and axis.

4-subjective-or-objective-refraction-data
The next table above shows repeatability data of 5 subjects. The data shows that the SVOne has the highest repeatability across all components of the refraction, sphere, cylinder and axis. The study confirmed that the SVOne is an accurate and repeatable way to measure refractive error in children.

SVOne Refraction: The New Gold Standard?

Through clinical studies and the feedback and results from doctors using the SVOne, we were able to conclude that automated refraction and the SVOne are certainly challenging the gold standard of subjective refraction due to the accuracy and repeatability of refraction results.

SVOne technology is a practical approach to solve the challenge when subjective refraction is too costly or unavailable. If you are running multiple optical retail stores, and have difficulties to capture walk-in customers due to lack to ability to provide on-site vision exams. SVOne is the perfect solution to provide fast and accurate eyewear prescriptions to your customers. If you are running a mobile clinic, and conducting manual refraction is too cumbersome, SVOne is the solution to provide clinically proven vision care to your customers. If you are running an overseas mission trip, and facing thousands of patients in the duration of a few days, SVOne is the portable solution that can offer efficient vision exams in a big way.

If interested in learning more about the SVOne autorefractor, request a demo to see the refraction process.

Demo the SVOne Autorefractor

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Spanish Language Support Now Available for Smart Vision Labs

Breaking Down the Barriers to Vision Care

Breaking Down the Barriers to Vision Care

This week, Smart Vision Labs launched a bilingual option to the telemedicine platform, with the addition of a Spanish version of the vision test. As we continue to expand and as the adoption of our platform steadily increases, we released the bilingual platform to support our Spanish-speaking customers in the United States and our international partners. Far too many people, both those in developing countries and even here in the U.S., are up against barriers preventing them from receiving proper vision care. And here at Smart Vision Labs, we are – figuratively speaking – actively tearing down those barriers.

As of 2016, the U.S. Census reported that the number of native-Spanish speakers in the U.S. reached just over 56 million, making up 17% of our population. And according to an American Community Survey report, 29% of Hispanics say they do not speak English well, and a surprising 18% say they do not speak it at all. Consider that before you spend 4 years in college studying some other foreign language to end up only remembering how to order a drink at a bar. How useful.

The immigrant population is continuing to grow, especially the Spanish-speaking population. With English being far from an easy language to learn, we recognized the importance to adapt to the changing status of our population. With this growing population comes the need for more access to healthcare, and specifically to vision care. The number of people living with uncorrected vision is astounding. Through our own research, we discovered that around 25% of people on the road would fail the DMV vision test. What a reassuring statistic that is… With the release of our Spanish version of the vision exam, we’re hoping that we might begin to mitigate this rather large problem as more people will have easy access to proper vision testing.

But in the grand scheme of things, in the U.S., the Spanish version of the exam will help somewhere between 18-29% of the 56 million Spanish-speakers living here. That’s only roughly 3-5% of the entire U.S. population (18% and 29% multiplied by that 17% above for those not mathematically inclined). So let’s not focus on the potential changes to come to vision care in the U.S., but rather the remarkable, positive changes we foresee in vision correction in South America and other Spanish-speaking countries.

Spanish Speaking Version of Vision Testing App - Smart Vision Labs

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired, and about 90% of those people live in low-income settings. However, over 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured. This means that – in a perfect world – we could reduce visual impairment to 57 million people (more math: 285 times 20%). Now I’m not saying this is likely going to happen. Nonetheless, we’re determined to try.

Let’s take a look at Mexico specifically. Optometry Giving Sight estimates that there are 49 million people in Mexico suffering from vision impairment, many because they simply do not have access to vision exams. Another study, conducted by the Pacific University College of Optometry on a humanitarian mission in Mexico, discovered that 60% of those in the study with visual acuity approaching 20/200 could have improved vision through corrective lenses or glasses. Additionally, 50% of all participants in the study showed visual acuity approaching 20/70, and almost 96% of those were corrected that day with lenses. The fundamental problem with vision care in Mexico is the lack of legislation surrounding it. There is little to no repercussion for inaccurate or poor-quality refracting within the country. And without any recourse or system in place to “quality check”, visual impairment in Mexico is seemingly inevitable.*

This is precisely what we at Smart Vision Labs are trying to change by bringing effective and accurate refracting to the country. With our partnerships, and with the potential to expand substantially thanks to the Spanish version of the exam, we’re confident that we will begin to see the percentage of people in Mexico with corrected vision trending upwards. The census in Mexico estimates that only 5% of citizens speak English. Other sources have pointed towards numbers around 12%. Take from that what you wish. Bottomline is that it’s a very low percentage, so let’s not be pedantic about the exact number.

With the release of the Spanish-language vision exam, we plan to attract an increasingly larger customer-base, those that we were potentially missing before due to language barriers. Additionally, with the convenience of an exam requiring no appointment, we continue to try to eliminate other minor barriers preventing people from receiving vision exams. Going forward we plan to increase the number of languages on our telemedicine platform to provide people all over the world access to our vision exam. So keep an eye out. Who knows, maybe someday those years spent studying a foreign language might just finally come in handy.

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 spent 5 years studying Italian. It has yet proven to be at all useful to her.

Want to learn more about telemedicine? Request a demo today.

learn more about telemedicine and how it can increase your optical store's business - Smart Vision Labs

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*OPTOMETRY IN THE AMERICAS, by Janet L. Leasher, OD, MPH, FAAO and Scott Pike, OD

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.

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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?
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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.”


Using HSA vs FSA for eye care expenses - Smart Vision Labs

What Your Customers Want to See In Your Optical Store

What Should You See in an Optical Store?

Optical store owners have seen a trend: selling eyewear looks a whole lot different now. Through the effective use of technology, customers can get an improved buying experience that saves them money and time. Store owners will see increased and more repeat sales, and will gain a solid reputation as the go-to place for eyewear.

Now, let’s rephrase that first sentence.

Successful optical store owners have captured this trend-setting way of selling eyewear by putting the right kind of technology in their stores.

“I Spy” in the Optical Store

What should you see in an optical store? According to consumers, there are three areas that will motivate and improve their buying experience.

  • Great customer service with a knowledgeable and professional staff
  • Convenient, affordable, and accurate vision exams
  • A choice of frames that are trendy, unique, or stylish

Customer Service

This involves more than greeting the customer and making a sale. Customer service includes having extended hours to accommodate busy schedules and offering same-day service on eyewear. While optical store owners look at profit and loss spreadsheets, customers look at the clock. Time is the new standard of currency for the consumer and savvy owners will find ways to make the most use of every business hour.

A knowledgeable and professional staff will generate sales in a realistic way. Customers will have questions and concerns, and addressing these issues creates an atmosphere to trust.

What Your Customers Want to See In Your Optical Store - Smart Vision Labs

Vision Exams

Do people see your store as a place to get a vision exam with no appointment or long wait? Can you offer customers a 5-minute exam?

Smart Vision Labs makes this possible. They paired a proprietary autorefraction device with a telemedicine platform. Simply put, customers have their vision tested through this technology and the data is sent to a remote network of eye doctors. If a prescription is needed, the customer is contacted through email within 24 hours. They are also able to access their data and medical history anytime through a secure portal.

Optical store owners who offer this service provide customers with a more comprehensive visit. A vision exam and the purchase of frames or contacts, all done within a short timeline, is the perfect combination.

What Your Customers Want to See In Your Optical Store Telemedicine by Smart Vision Labs

Choosing Frames

Does your store have a wall of frames to choose from? Have you ever had a customer leave the store because you didn’t have exactly what they wanted?

Optical store owners understand the big investment of stocking frames. Yet, having a large selection does not mean you have the right selection. Once again, technology plays a larger role in offering customers what they really want.

Store owners can now have an unlimited selection of frames. Yes, unlimited. Technology is now available that allows customers to design their own frames. This will appeal to the customer base who truly wants a one-of-a-kind style. But for other consumers who may not find exactly what they want in your store, consider offering the try-on technology to show people what different frames (ones that you do not currently have in stock) look on them. This is where the unlimited (and not financially top heavy) inventory is expanded.

In your optical store, do you see great customer service, the opportunity for a convenient vision exam, and a selection of frames to make everyone happy? If you don’t, your customers won’t see these things either and that may make them look elsewhere.

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?

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