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

How to Attract Millennials to Your Optical Store

Millennials and Optical Retail

Millennials and Optical Retail - Smart Vision Labs
Source: http://whymillennialsmatter.com/

Millennials are more than a buzzword heard on the news. They’re the largest generation since their parents’ and the very first to grow up with digital devices. This combination means products must reach this group and that the old ways of doing so are less effective.

The generally-agreed upon definition for a millennial is a person who was part of the 18 to 34 age demographic in 2015. However, the media has attached their own traits to this group. Self-centered, technology-obsessed, or entitled are common complaints about millennials.

Because of the sheer size of this group, the eyecare industry needs to reach them. However, these negative connotations have resulted in millennials distancing themselves from the term. Despite how true it may be, eyewear created for millennials cannot use that word in their advertising strategy because it seems disconnected and condescending. Several surveys concluded that only around one third of millennials identify with the term. What is the best method to appeal to this group then?

By reaching out and responding to their ideals in a positive way.

This group assigns high priority to expressing individuality. They are the most likely generation to investigate and factor in the ethics of a company. And never experiencing life without a computer nearby means eyecare marketing needs to adapt to the ways millennials communicate, network, and share information online.

To reach out to this group, a company needs to be aware of these issues. In the pre-Internet era, a company’s ethics were a non-factor, unless they did something notable enough to reach the traditional media outlets. Today, stories about any action a company takes, good or bad, can be shared around the world with a tap a smartphone screen. A millennial’s decision to support or boycott a product can be decided in a split second as they read through posts and shared stories on their social media account.

Their individualism also results in support of indie brands. They purchase a unique product as well as the satisfaction of supporting a business which might be operated by only a single person. A millennial’s questioning of the status quo means they are more likely to seek out and support one-of-a-kind, socially conscious and environmentally-friendly businesses or startups.

But what do they look for when shopping for eyewear?

What Do Millennials Want in Eyewear?

What Do Millennials Want in Eyewear? - Smart Vision Labs

Millennials want choice and change, which is exactly what the eyecare industry disruptors are bringing. Transparency in the eyecare business no longer refers to just the see-through quality of lenses; this is a movement to invite the consumer to have more power and a voice that is heard.

Millennials want to be included in the buying experience. The millennial market is expected to grow within the next five years and industry experts are positioning themselves to reach this consumer base effectively.

In eyewear, millennials want style, color and the ‘cool’ factor. While quality and price are also on their list, millennials view eyewear as a way to stand out and make an impression; cost is a consideration but not a deal-breaker. To this generation, eyewear is a necessary accessory. Whether the glasses are used to correct refractive errors or are worn to protect against UV rays, millennials want to stylishly combine form and function.

This generation is also visually-oriented. They view color, shapes, and designs as ways to express their individuality in whatever event they attend. When selecting eyewear, they like choices whether in-person or online. Choosing is a big part of the buying experience for them and eyecare professionals would do well to keep that in mind.

Millennials want change in the eye care industry as well. At the forefront is customer service. This is a generation that connects and communicates. In-person, they want a knowledgeable sales staff that listens and knows the latest trends. Online, they want to be able to open a chat or join a forum to express their views or ask a question. Social media is the voice of millennials and insightful marketers will speak this language.

An excellent example of a company that has embraced all of these concepts is DITA Eyewear. This company was established in Los Angeles in 1995 with one mission: to create unique, innovative, and finely crafted eyewear. This company has not only heard the voice of the millennial consumer, they are actively giving that voice expression through designing eyewear that connects and communicates with them on their own terms.

screen-shot-2017-03-29-at-2-58-50-pm
                    DITA Journey Sunglasses

Where Do Millennials Shop?

In line with their individualism, millennials don’t accept the status quo the eyecare industry has set. They question the “why” of the entire system, from how they get the prescription to the moment they put those new glasses on. The goals of eyecare industry disruptors tend to align with the ideals of millennials which has resulted in the creation and flourishing of the online eyewear market.

Disruptors seek to create transparency so the consumer can see how the industry was operating and how much more efficient it could be which aids the ethics research millennials do. Use of technology, from smartphone vision tests to 3D printed frames, shows this generation that the company is current and interested in achieving ideals rather than relying on old methods. Businesses who create frames from recycled material or ones who seek to improve the availability of glasses in developing countries allows millennials to support philanthropic causes and gives reason to spread the word about the company.

Indie companies are making huge changes in the eyewear industry. This would not have been possible before the technology, desire for change, and millennials to share their ideals and support their businesses.

Millennials and Eye Care

When it comes to vision exams, millennials want convenience. They have fully embraced technology and understand its usefulness. They are also confident in using digital devices and are among the first demographic to try out new technology. When vision care providers understand this mindset, they are better able to address the concerns of this group of consumers.

Convenience comes in the form of being able to schedule vision exams at times beneficial to them, or not having to schedule an appointment at all. The last idea may seem a bit radical since traditional exams require going through a gate-keeper to set up an appointment, and then sitting in a waiting room wondering why your time for the exam has been delayed.

Smart Vision Labs has a simple and very effective solution. They offer a 5-minute Smart Vision Exam that doesn’t even require an appointment. When a millennial shows up at one of the participating vision care providers, the exam can begin.

There is a paperwork part of the vision test, in which consumers are asked basic information and general questions about their overall health. Specific questions about any eye problems or concerns will also be asked. Wavefront technology scans the person’s eyes, photos of the eyes will be taken, and all of the data will be sent to a licensed ophthalmologist to review. If a prescription is needed, it will be sent via email to the person within 24 hours.

Convenient? Yes. Millennials also appreciate the use of technology to store their vision care results and make their prescriptions accessible. Smart Vision Labs offers consumers a password-protected portal in which to view and download their prescription. And that prescription, as well as the vision exam results, will be accessible whenever they log in.

Millennials know the power of technology to offer a convenient approach to eye care. This consumer group will shun traditional and outdated business models in favor of more tech-savvy ones. When they want a vision exam, they will look for convenience (on their terms) and digital devices to streamline the process.

The future of vision care providers needs to include the very real expectations of millennials. Convenience is possible because of technology, yet there is a certain boldness that requires those in the eyecare industry to put it to use. When dealing with eye care and vision exams, there shouldn’t be a ‘let’s-see-if-the-market-is-ready’ approach; providers who are truly committed to eye health will use every means possible to encourage people to get regular vision exams.

Marketing and Millennials

Marketing and Millennials - Smart Vision Labs

Millennials’ impact on the eyecare industry is only just beginning. Besides being poised as the next generation of consumers, millennials are unique in several ways. There is an increase in myopia in this age group which will create a direct correlation to their involvement with all things pertaining to eyecare. Research is being conducted to determine the cause of this growing trend, and there is a popular theory that not only offers an explanation but may help define this generation.

The ‘near work’ hypothesis suggests that this age group has strained their eyes through reading and using smartphones and other digital devices. Another correlation appears to be between the increased education level of millennials and myopia.

These apparent causes for the frequency of myopia also define this group. They are very interested and comfortable with technology and place a high value on education. Millennials bring these traits to the opticians and optical stores and will shop according to where their beliefs are best implemented.

When purchasing prescription glasses or sunglasses, millennials look for frames that will create the image they want to project. This is a generation that loves all things unique, indie retailers, customized frames, and colors. Their view of glasses is balanced by the idea that they are not just an accessory. Form and function play a key role in their choice of eyewear.

And millennials are the group that will research how their prescription glasses and frames are made. They love to be part of the process through educating themselves. They ask questions and expect answers. They especially like to share their opinions on social media or forums.

Millennials are more than just a group of consumers; they are people who love connecting and expressing themselves. This can translate into sales for the linear-thinking marketers but for those in the eyecare industry who want to make a real impression, this is something to listen to. Give the millennials a voice and invite them to be part of the changes that are happening in this industry. Think of them less of a consumer and more of a partner.

Millennials know what they want, where to get it, and why it’s the best for them. And they love to share these thoughts with others. Opticians and optical stores should never overlook the impact of this generation.

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Jobs in the Optical Industry - Smart Vision Labs

Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry

Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry

The effects of optical industry disruptors aren’t only seen in new startups and creative business models. They change not only how businesses operate but also how the employees work. The vision disruptors’ shared goals of affordable eye care and industry transparency need people to bring lofty ideas down to earth where they can be useful.

The changes disruptors made to the eyecare industry affect the day-to-day operations of businesses down to their smallest unit: the employee. Disruptors work with optical engineers to design a prototype, medical science liaisons to ensure the product is viable, and marketers to get the word out to potential consumers.

Not only do these positions have a new person to work with, the disruptor, they also have to adapt to the resulting changes. Eyecare industry disruptors rely heavily on technology, software, and communication to introduce new ways of doing things and the employees, scientists, and engineers that work alongside them must do the same. Engineers work with advanced 3D modeling software to design new equipment, staff opticians walk people through vision tests over teleconferencing, and licensed ophthalmologists read and report on results for a patient they never saw in person. Because disruptors have made technology and software important aspects of the eye care industry, the people who currently work in this field need to navigate these changes and incorporate them into their job description.

There are two ways optical industry professionals work along with disruptors. The first is the link between a disruptor and the technical aspects like healthcare, science, and engineering. Although it is behind-the-scenes work, it is essential to insure the disruptor’s idea is both practical and commercially viable. The other seeks to create communication between the disruptor and the consumer they are looking to reach. Telling consumers that they can afford eye care, where to get it, and why this new way of doing things is better for them are all part of fulfilling transparency goals.

Medical Science Liaison 

In order to create effective and practical solutions, disruptors’ ideas and goals need to align with the needs of the healthcare industry and the technological limits of engineering. A medical science liaison manages the healthcare part.

The primary focus of their job is to enable effective communication between industry innovators and their fellow scientists and doctors. They are the link between the people with the ideas and the people who carry them out. The medical science liaison uses the knowledge gained from getting their doctorate in a specific field (such as ophthalmology) to work with both idealistic goals and rigid industry conventions.

Their purpose is to provide balanced, informative insight on how to improve a product using the knowledge of their selected medical field. Because they are familiar with the healthcare aspect, they are able to explain the kind of effect the disruptor’s product will have.

A Medical Liaison is one of many important post disruptive jobs in the Optical Industry - Smart Vision Labs
Our former liaison Dr. Huy Tran

Optical Engineer/Optical Scientist

Optical engineers are responsible for every phase of creation, from the idea to the final implementation. Their skills need to cross several disciplines, as this position is a mix of both engineering and physics.

In the initial stage, the optical engineer needs to envision a device that will fulfill a need in the industry. This may include a new way to test for eye disorders or perhaps it involves improving an aspect of laser surgery. However, to complete each project successfully, there are several mandatory questions to answer.

What is practical? The optical engineer needs to mentally inventory the technology and materials that are currently available to create the new device. This assessment is the first step to determine the viability of the project.

How does it work? If the possibility for creation exists, then it needs to be designed. This takes the idea and brings it into the physical world through the use of measurements, materials, and the laws of physics. The optical engineer creates the framework that holds the device and the mechanical components that will make it work.

Does it work? Testing and analyzing the completed device may or may not be the final stage. Modifications or even a complete reevaluation of the project may be needed. In many cases, the optical engineer is involved in the assembly process which provides even greater control and input in the development of the device. A manufacturing engineer could also take over this aspect but there needs to be communication with the optical engineer at all stages.

The many hats an optical engineer wears during the creation-to-implementation process make this a very interesting position. Although this career is primarily a desk job, there will be many opportunities to work with others and to travel to testing facilities or laboratories. During the design or testing phase, longer work hours may be needed, yet there is a definite feeling of satisfaction achieved from creating devices that will improve the optical industry.

There is a great demand for optical engineers and the field is filled with growth, thanks to eyecare industry disruptors. As the current business model for eye care embraces ever-changing technological advances, the optical engineer will be at the forefront creating devices that lead the way into a better future.

Chief Optical Scientist Kaccie Li - One of many post disruptive jobs in the Optical Industry - Smart Vision Labs
Chief Optical Scientist Kaccie Li

Staff Opticians and Licensed Ophthalmologists

As technology is created and improved and the optical industry evolves, optical staff technicians keep up with these changes. The on-site technicians have always collected the patient’s basic information and conducted a traditional-style vision test. Staff opticians still do these things but in new ways that reflect the influence brought about by industry disruptors.

They might have started out giving a vision test using large machines in brick-and-mortar office buildings, but now they may help a person use a small device for their smartphone. The handshake when they enter the exam room might be replaced by a wave through a monitor before starting the live video feed. The vision test might not even take place in an exam room, but in the person’s home using a portable autorefractor or even their computer’s webcam.

Conducting vision tests using telecommunications affects more than just the technicians. The licensed ophthalmologists who interpret the results don’t have to be physically near the patient either. The method of operations for the eyecare industry was to have the person come into the doctor’s office for their vision test and prescription. But disruptors discovered it is simpler and more resource-efficient to send test results to the licensed ophthalmologist. This especially benefits people who need vision care but are unable to get to an office in person, such as those who have health problems or live in rural areas. In addition to allowing ophthalmologists to see and treat patients more efficiently, they can also provide care to people who would otherwise forgo vision correction altogether.

Customer Service, Public Relations and Social Media 

Disrupting the eyecare industry isn’t just about dealing with high-tech innovations. Because this field is really about providing healthcare, there is a human element to this business that cannot be ignored. Once the optical engineers design the product and the staff technicians assist with vision exams, there is still a customer who needs to purchase a product. That is the reason the individual and the disruptor are interacting in the first place.

The responsibilities of the customer service representative have evolved as well. Before disruptors began creating a foothold in the industry, the customer service role was pretty straightforward. Sit at a desk waiting for a customer to walk in, help them select a pair of glasses, go over the invoice and get their payment information, and send them home to wait for a phone call saying their eyewear is ready. But, for a company that operates entirely online, how is that useful?

It isn’t. Which is how disruptors changed the definition of customer service. In the post-disruption industry, customers need service of a different kind, namely, more educational and information-based to lead them through the new changes.

A vital component which separates these new, innovative companies with the optical industry giants they are disrupting is communication. This element connects companies and consumers in a more influential way than just saying “I bought their product.” Communication allows disruptors to alert eyecare consumers to the behind-the-scenes practices of the industry which serve only to benefit the large corporations, creating a transparency that wasn’t seen in this business before. The consumer can also interact with a company directly in a way that wasn’t even an option before.

The overwhelming popularity of social media combines with disruptors’ needs and desires to communicate with their consumers. The previously semi-related fields of PR manager and marketer have become closely intertwined. Social media managers and social marketers are born from this union.

Running a social media account brings brand awareness, cultivates consumer loyalty through accessibility and positive interactions, and provides an outlet for people to feel heard by the company. Small startups can connect with the public on a more personal level which creates rapport between business and customer.

These positions even incorporate elements of customer service. Assuring unsatisfied customers their complaints were heard and relaying that information back to the business shows consumers, both the one you’re interacting with and potential new ones, that this business is legitimately interested in helping and making changes based on feedback. Fresh startups don’t have a long business history or traditions to cling to which makes them responsive to consumer praise or criticism in a way traditional eyecare industry businesses can’t (or don’t care to) be.

TM is in charge of ensuring Smart Vison Labs customers are always happy - Just one of many jobs in the Optical Industry
TM is in charge of ensuring Smart Vison Labs customers are always happy

Necessary Job Skills

Eyecare industry disruptors bring much-needed change that results in increased convenience and decreased costs to consumers. Yet, the disruption of the former business model also changes the parameters of jobs in this field.

At the forefront is software. Industry disruptors have used the modern advances in technology to change the “default setting” on eye care by upgrading to more efficient and accurate ways of performing everything from vision exams to LASIK surgery. While these improvements are beneficial, those in the field must be ready to adapt to them.

In many ways, the software generated and used by the industry disruptors are at the core of change. Careers in this field now center on the ability to learn new systems. The disruptors also open the door for innovative thinkers who can develop software to address the current goals of this industry. The entire disruption process carries a message that change is here to stay. Careers in eye care will focus on this message through adoption, inventions, and implementation.

Another vital skill for the job seeker in the post-disruption eyecare industry is the ability to communicate. This requirement now extends beyond the simple act of talking to patients in an office setting. Careers in this industry now require people to be able to explain in understandable terms how the technology works for their benefit.

This means that patients need to be introduced to new concepts in a clear way. For instance, Smart Vision Lab’s 5-Minute Vision Exam offers convenience and cost savings. Yet, patients will not fully appreciate the benefit to themselves until it’s explained. Another example is buying eyewear online. Whenever consumers are offered a different way of doing things, there is always a learning process. That’s why communicators are a vital force in the eyecare industry disruption.

Just like the disruptors have a vision for change, so will those working in this industry. Certain skills will be magnified to better enable eye care to attain the goals that will best serve the people they seek to reach.

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Visit VU Frameworks in the TurnStyle underground market and get a Smart Vision Exam in 5 minutes

Shopping, Dining and Vision Exams at TurnStyle

Where can a busy NYer get chic new glasses, an updated prescription, and an artisanal meal in under an hour?

Try looking down.

Visit VU Frameworks in the TurnStyle underground market and get a Smart Vision Exam in 5 minutes

Pop Quiz: You want to get a new pair of stylish, sophisticated and environmentally responsible glasses to show off your new hairstyle when you go out this weekend, but you need to get your eyeglass prescription updated first, and you’ve got to do it all during your lunch hour and still find time to silence the grumbling in your belly.

Answer: Check out VU Frameworks in the ultra-chic TurnStyle underground market below Columbus Circle. Conveniently located in what is arguably one of the easiest locations to get to quickly from anywhere in New York City, VU Frameworks is surrounded by upscale shops selling hand-made stationery, ultra-chic messenger bags, and a variety of tasty delicacies ranging from artisanal donuts and savory French Crepes, to critically acclaimed grilled cheese sandwiches, Bolivian Saltenas, and Taiwanese dumplings.

Not only can you satisfy your hunger for food, but you can also satisfy your hunger for fashion – especially the fashion that sits on your face. VU Frameworks creates eyewear with an Urban Zen style. Even better, every faux wooden frame in their collection is designed to raise awareness of the strains consumerism puts on nature.

Vu Frameworks - Smart Vision Labs partnerAh, you say, but what about updating your prescription? You don’t have time to wait for an appointment with your eye doctor, and you don’t have the time to spend waiting in an office for a separate eye exam. Never fear, VU Frameworks Owner Nai Wang has got you covered there, too.

Nai is all about meeting the needs of her customers, some of the most demanding, most discriminating, high energy and time-challenged working professionals in the world. She recently began offering Smart Vision Labs’ 5-Minute Vision Exam, the revolutionary smartphone-based technology that can get you in and out of her store in less time than it takes you to finish your Espresso Affogato, and give you your new prescription in less than 24 hours thanks to cutting edge optical telemedicine.

Chic and convenient? Environmentally aware, technologically advanced, and fashion forward? Yes, to all of the above.

And you’ll find it all down below Columbus Circle, at VU Frameworks in the TurnStyle underground market.

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forget using a phoroptor - get a vision test with the best technology from Smart Vision Labs

Why Did You Skip Your Vision Exam?

get a vision exam with today's technology from Smart Vision Labs not tech from the 1800s

There should only be one way to answer that question: “I didn’t.”

However, although 114 million eye exams are performed each year, there are 240 million Americans who have some type of vision problem.

So someone has been skipping a vision exam, right? That isn’t you though, is it?

Why is there such a difference in the number of people who need vision correction and those who actually go for an eye exam?

no vision insurance no problem with Smart Vision Labs everyone can get their vision tested

Affordable? Insurance?

It (mostly) comes down to money. A CDC survey of people with vision problems over 40 found the most commonly cited reasons for not getting routine eye exams were due to the cost of treatment. Both lack of vision insurance and not being able to afford the visit made up nearly 40 percent of the reasons why people skipped their eye checkup.

The group most likely to state a cost-prohibitive reason for their lack of vision care was between the ages of 40 to 64. This is also the age when many age-related vision problems (such as presbyopia) begin to make themselves known.

What Other Reasons Could There Be?

So, you noticed it “mostly” comes down to money. What are the other reasons?

The next most influential decision maker in refusing vision care is some good old self-diagnosis… or lack thereof. 35 percent of people stated they didn’t go to the eye doctor because they didn’t feel they needed a vision exam.

Let’s back up for a moment. The survey involved people over 40 who have “moderate to severe visual impairment” which is defined through actions such as struggling to read a newspaper. 35 percent of people with noticeable vision problems don’t think they need a vision exam. For the rest, regular vision exams will also alert the person to any developing problems that aren’t big enough to notice but that are at the perfect time to correct, preventing further damage.

Nearly 5 percent said they had difficulty getting an appointment scheduled which prevented their checkup. Although this percentage is far smaller than the other two statistics, it represents another completely different issue. Why can’t these people find appointments? Is their schedule or their doctor’s the problem? Is it caused by an understaffed office or maybe the patient is homebound? This 5 percent has both the money and desire to get their eyes checked but are not receiving treatment.

A Real Way for Affordable Eye Care

Smart Vision Labs has a way to address each of these groups to present them with the opportunity to receive vision care using telemedicine and their 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam.

Those without adequate vision coverage will be pleased to find out how affordable a vision test can be without involving their health insurance at all. In this way, Smart Vision Labs is helping to honor the ideals of the Affordable Care Act, even when the law itself can’t fix everything.

Appointments, scheduling, and creating time are also far simpler. After the short vision test is complete, the results are sent to an ophthalmologist who reviews them. You get your prescription through a secure online portal which protects your privacy and gives you control over how you use your own medical information. Having the prescription on a computer makes it easy to purchase glasses or contacts online so finding time to try on glasses turns into browsing websites at your leisure.

For that group who just “doesn’t need it,” perhaps they just need to see the ease and affordability of a vision exam. It doesn’t hurt at all to go, whether they end up with a prescription they didn’t think they would get or bragging rights that they didn’t require corrective glasses and were right all along.

But affordably caring for your eyes is never a wrong decision.

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Telemedicine of Today

Telemedicine of Today

If telemedicine is a new term for you, it’s time to be introduced.

Telemedicine is an exciting new advancement of medical treatment, which connects patients with qualified healthcare professionals through remote communication. It becomes particularly useful in cases such as monitoring a patient with a chronic condition, creating access to specialists regardless of geographic location, or to get care to those who are unable to leave their home due to physical or mental health conditions. Imagine how helpful being able to communicate with a doctor through a live video feed might be to someone who suffers from chronic pain or PTSD. They can reach the care they need without preparing for what might be a difficult trip in leaving their home.

Telemedicine is only one aspect of a larger field. Telehealth is the all-encompassing term for everything related to the junction between communication and health care. All telemedicine is telehealth but telehealth includes more than just telemedicine.

Telemedicine is focused on the direct link between patients and doctors. It uses communication technology to allow doctors to remotely diagnose, treat, and provide ongoing monitoring for patients. While telehealth includes this one-on-one type of interaction, it is also used for broader health communications. Something that is part of telehealth only is the education of both medical employees and the public. This aspect involves informing the public about a local health concern or continuing to provide education for current healthcare providers.

American Well Telemedicine kiosk
American Well Telemedicine kiosk

How Does It Work?        

Telemedicine uses the Internet, computers, and mobile devices to give patients access to medical care. This broad definition means the field of telemedicine is ever expanding as people find new uses for it or realize it is a solution to an existing problem. Innovation in telemedicine, in both the technology and medical aspects, has proven useful in alleviating concerns and struggles voiced by both patients and medical care providers.

While the exact procedure differs depending on what the healthcare concern is, the idea is to allow the patient to “visit” a doctor and benefit from their knowledge without having to actually visit their office. The basic concept creates a way for the patient to transfer medical information electronically to a doctor, who will review it and report back their findings.

Practicing telemedicine could be as simple as sending a few emails back and forth. During the email conversation, the patient mentions the wound from their recent surgery hurts a bit. The doctor asks for an image of the healing incision and the patient attaches it to their reply. Is the doctor concerned about the appearance? He might ask the patient to use an app to report their vital signs, looking for signs of infection.

It sounds simple but that is what telemedicine looks like in practice. Which is really the goal. The futuristic sounding terms are meant to achieve accessible and affordable health care.

But don’t start picturing severely ill patients asking an online forum if they should go to the hospital for their broken leg. The point of telemedicine is to get more patients the clinical care they need from accredited doctors. The most popular reasons and uses for telemedicine reflect this mission: relieving demands of time for doctors and patients and continued monitoring of an existing, but stable, condition. Telemedicine is about avoiding unnecessary office visits, not making office visits unnecessary.

How Does Telemedicine Benefit Me?

While telemedicine is indeed a great use of current technology, for anything to be considered successful, there has to be measurable benefits. To better understand these benefits, let’s start with the people telemedicine is designed to help. And that includes you.

Patients have three main areas of concern and they are convenience, cost, and capability. While these things may be prioritized differently for each individual, these are most often cited when asked about satisfaction with the healthcare industry.

Being able to access medical care in a convenient way is one of the hallmark principles of telemedicine. People in rural areas or who are physically unable to leave their homes are at a major disadvantage when scheduling office visits with a doctor. And even if you are not in those categories, most patients want a simpler way to see a doctor when they need to. Scheduling time away from work or school is difficult to coordinate with the often limited office hours of physicians. And let’s not even think about needing a doctor on a holiday or weekend.

The ever-increasing cost of medical care is always an issue. Telemedicine actually reduces the cost through their remote analysis and electronic data storage which require less physical resources to maintain. Telemedicine can possibly eliminate unnecessary visits to the ER as well as transportation expenses for patients who require it. The technology used, while being cutting-edge and impressive, also lowers other traditional costs associated with medical care. It is better able to manage chronic illnesses, and results in shorter hospital stays, as well as lower readmission rates.

The capability of the doctor will always be a major concern and telemedicine addresses this by giving patients better access to more specialists. Patients can be referred to specific doctors, regardless of their location. This technology enables specialists to perform detailed consultations from miles away. Having the ability to access the medical minds of all these physicians might be the most outstanding feature of telemedicine.

Although these are only three benefits associated with telemedicine, patients often mention others like not having to lose time from work to for a doctor’s visit, having their medical information easily accessible through a secure portal, and being able to engage with doctors in more relaxed setting than an office or hospital.

Above all, there is a very high level of patient satisfaction with telemedicine which demonstrates its success to address key concerns and needs of patients.

Telemedicine is Right Here, Right Now

In case you might think that telemedicine is still a thought of the future, you can literally reach out and touch it. Right now. In fact, you may already have used some of this technology though one of these services.

Teladoc is pretty much what the name implies: tell a doctor. But this on-demand service uses mobile devices, video, phone, and the Internet. Yet, there is no donning a gown and jumping up on the examining table. The patient sees a doctor through audio-video technology for diagnoses, consultations, or to receive ongoing monitoring of prescription medication. Teleadoc promises quality care when you need it. And the average wait time to speak to a licensed doctor by web, phone or mobile app is less than 10 minutes.

Teladoc telemedicine

SnapMD uses cloud-based technology to streamline and integrate all aspects of medical care. This is a simple and cost-effective way to access servers, storage, databases, and other applications over the Internet. While patients can see licensed physicians through the use of mobile devices, SnapMD also encrypts their medical history and is compliant with HIPAA privacy regulations. Doctors can view their medical charts during the call which provides more information to make a thorough analysis. On the paperwork side, having the patient’s medical data in a convenient location assists in the process of filing insurance claims, determining co-pays, and verifying health plan coverage.

snapmd telemedicine

BreakThrough focuses on mental health and advertises confidential online therapy from your couch. This service has enhanced the therapeutic experience by providing a wide range of licensed therapists and psychiatrists. It also eliminates the possibility of running into someone in the waiting room, which is often a worrying concern that patients have. Patients benefit from easy access to mental health providers, and can fit in a therapy session at times that are most convenient, including nights and weekends. Research has proven that online counseling is just as effective as in-person therapy.

telemedicine breakthrough

Smart Vision Labs covers another, sometimes overlooked, aspect of health care: vision exams. They offer a 5-minute vision exam that uses the same type of technology designed for LASIK procedures. Patients are asked a few questions about their overall health and then their eyes are scanned. These photos, as well as the data generated from them, are sent to a licensed doctor via cloud technology. If any prescription is needed, the patient can access it through a secure online portal. In fact, prescriptions will be kept on the server, along with medical data, so the patient can review this information. Once again, telemedicine offers convenience as well as quality care for the patient.

telemedicine for eye-care Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine: Sci-Fi or WiFi?

The idea of seeing a doctor through an audio-visual link or conferring with a specialist in the comfort of your own home has a little science fiction feeling to it. But it’s all real thanks to the technology and the wonders of WiFi.

Health care has been a much discussed topic, from the White House to your own house. Although people and politicians may disagree on the best way to reform health care, everyone agrees on the idea of making it affordable and accessible. Telemedicine has done just that. It may not even be a stretch of the imagination to say that telemedicine has been at the forefront of affordable care years before it was a federal statute.

What does the future hold?  

Telemedicine has not reached its full potential but has started a momentum in the healthcare industry that will be unstoppable. Despite the availability of interactive devices to connect patients and physicians, policies enacted in some states make it difficult for telemedicine to do what it was intended to do: provide everyone with convenient, cost-effective, and competent care. But the success of telemedicine and the satisfaction of both patients and physicians are causing lawmakers to rethink certain restrictions that unnecessarily regulate coverage.

Telemedicine is an exciting merging of technology and medicine that can and will change the format of health care. Everyone on the planet, regardless of geographic location, financial restraints, or physical or mental impairments, can receive medical care by qualified physicians. A wide range of conditions can be diagnosed and treated, from the flu to sprains and strains. Mental health providers can counsel patients in their own homes and vision exams are performed in five minutes with LASIK technology as a diagnostic tool.

Healthcare reform has started and we have only begun to appreciate its success and recognize its potential.

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Telemedicine Eye Exams by Smart Vision Labs

"Eye" Don't Want To!

There are certain things that people don’t want when they get a vision exam. Thanks to technology, they may never have to get those things.

Thanks to Telemedicine

If you have had any recent visits to a doctor, urgent care center, or an optometrist, you have already experienced telemedicine. Through the use of technology, healthcare professionals can diagnose and even treat medical conditions at a distance.

At first, this was a way for people in rural areas to “see” a doctor or specialist without having to travel long distances. However, telemedicine has become a great benefit to everyone everywhere.

This has been especially true when it relates to vision exams. Telemedicine has virtually (sorry for the pun!) eliminated many of the objections that keep people from having regular exams.

You Don’t Have To

Technology has changed the “eye don’t want to” into “you don’t have to” by eliminating many of the negatives surrounding a vision exam.

Scheduling is probably the first hurdle you may face. It’s hard to find a time and day to go for a vision exam when work, school, or other important obligations may need to take precedence. With telemedicine, walk-in exams are possible at many optical locations. This is because the test is done using technology and the data sent electronically to a licensed eye doctor to evaluate.

The vision test involves taking photographs of the eyes which captures how light travels through the eye. Where and how the light is focused in the eye will be analyzed and reviewed by an ophthalmologist. A prescription will be issued, if needed, and this can be sent electronically to a person’s email.

This type of exam also provides the second “you don’t have to” moment: no long exams. If you have 5 minutes, you can get your vision checked. A Smart Vision Exam will include scanning your eyes with the same type of technology that is used in LASIK procedures. A doctor will receive this data electronically and analyze it. You do not have to wait around for a diagnosis or prescription; both of these will show up in your email’s inbox.

Not Sci-Fi—Just Good Old Wifi

Perhaps a novelist could have envisioned telemedicine and written a story about it. At first glance, the idea of getting a vision exam without ‘seeing’ an eye doctor seems like science fiction. But we have all seen the marvels of technology.

The electronic scan of your eyes will generate data that will give an eye doctor the necessary information to assess your vision and to determine if corrective lenses are needed.

You would have the ease of not having to schedule an appointment and to not have to endure a long and sometimes tedious eye exam. Research has proven that the best way to take care of your eyes is to have regular vision exams and you don’t have to sacrifice time to do this.

Technology has made this very easy as well as accurate. The scans and photographs taken of your eyes provide doctors with a high level of comprehensive data.

“See” the benefits of telemedicine for vision exams and take your “eye don’t want to” and make it a “eye I am convinced” moment.

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