Why Some Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine
If you ask a doctor about the prognosis for telemedicine, you will most likely get an enthusiastic and positive response. This technology, which connects medical professionals and patients, has both immediate and long-term benefits for everyone. On the physician’s side, it can expand the patient base, offer financial gains, and position the practice as a leader in this effective health trend. Meanwhile, patients have accessibility to doctors and specialists, convenience, and cost-savings.
Yes, telemedicine is not only alive and well; it’s shaping the future of healthcare.
The business side of telemedicine is also being recognized and utilized by store owners and CEOs of large retail chains. Providing employees telemedicine options adds to the profit line. And let’s not forget offering this technology to consumers at the store level.
Imagine walking into an optical store (with no appointment) and getting a five-minute vision exam. If you need prescriptive lenses or contacts, you will get an email within 24 hours. Actually, you don’t have to imagine this if you go to a store that offers the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Vision Exam. This technology is already out there building a strong and very happy customer base. (Dare we mention the cost savings customers achieve in addition to the convenience?)
Telemedicine has been a steadily growing influence on healthcare, moving from the visionary stage to practical implementation in medical practices and businesses.
The Vision of Telemedicine
Every great movement has a great vision. With telemedicine, the vision is both practical and global. Doctors, being the medical part of telemedicine, helped shaped this advance in healthcare simply because they are on the ground floor of patient care.
The objective of every physician is to help as many patients as possible. Telemedicine achieves this through the management of both time and distance. This technology provides on-demand care or relegates unnecessary in-person visits to the virtual realm. By taking distance out of the equation, doctors can address the concerns of more patients.
But expanding this vision makes it even more profound. People who are in rural areas or those with mobility or transportation challenges still have access to a doctor. Medical care is no longer dependent on a set number of hours in a day or by a geographic radius.
Through telemedicine, patients have access to specialists from around the world. Need a second opinion? No problem through the use of this technology. MRIs or X-rays can be transmitted securely to another physician anywhere and anytime.
Doctors are finding that telemedicine can reach new patients and retain current ones. New patients are drawn to the ease and accessibility of the doctor’s practice and current patients are seamlessly brought up to date with the technology. The end result is a more proactive stance from patients. They are more likely to use the telemedicine platform to maintain health and to address concerns.
Patients with chronic conditions, like cancer or diabetes, can readily access medical care for continuing or follow-up visits. Doctors appreciate having more frequent consultations with these patients so they can quickly spot any changes that need to be addressed. Telemedicine can also help close the revolving door of re-hospitalization by giving patients a platform by which they can voice their concerns.
Now, let’s take this vision of healthcare out of the doctors’ offices and into the mainstream. In-store clinics can give people a real option for receiving medical care. Business owners using this technology can become thought leaders in this movement.
How Thought Leaders Impact the Role of Telemedicine
Thought leaders are at the forefront of their field, advancing boundaries, innovating, and encouraging adoption of new methodology. But a thought leader is not just an idea person. Their expertise in a chosen field must also be recognized by their contemporaries and reflect positively in their finances. This is the key step in moving from a visionary to a true thought leader. Putting their ideas into practice and backing them up with results is what defines the step up from a visionary to a thought leader.
Thought leaders are persons and business owners (or sometimes even the business itself) who are advancing the boundaries in their respective fields of practice. Their peers rely on their current knowledge of the field as well as their ability to predict where it will be going in the future. Because the thought leader’s ideas are actually backed by others, their predictions for the industry they work in are able to come to fruition. Thought leaders don’t chime in on any and every topic just to be heard; they have specific goals and visions for their business and focus their time, energy, and money into supporting these ideas. This targeted approach does more than allocate their own resources efficiently. Fellow business owners trust the opinions of thought leaders precisely because they take a quality over quantity approach to their input, conversations, and advice.
The thought leaders who shaped telemedicine gained support from their peers through intelligent discussions and innovative ideas. They listened to what was working in the industry and what was not working. What were the chief complaints and praises of doctors, patients, and healthcare facilities? The next step was backing up these ideas with a working model that reflected these changes. But another facet was critical; they needed to show their ideas work both as a service or product and as a financially successful business strategy.
An essential element to being a thought leader is when others in the same field recognize that these innovations and changes are going to shape the industry. To accomplish this, the thought leader has to get the other business owners on board. Being respected in the community as an intellectual or visionary alone will not do this. Supporting innovations by demonstrating they are an effective business strategy will. This is where the visionary must really develop to become a thought leader. By backing up their ideas with commercially-viable products and services, other business owners in the chosen field will take note and respond to the changes being offered.
Thought leaders also need support from the people who will be using their proposed industry-changing ideas. Approval from doctors and patients who are actually going to be hands-on with telemedicine services are essential to gain the financial support business owners are looking for. The product needs to be examined from the client side as well. Something needs to entice future customers into trying the service along with retaining existing ones. And business owners aren’t the only ones who are interested in the bottom line. Affordability is certainly another factor users consider.
The process of advancing from a promising visionary to a respected thought leader benefits the field they work in too. Telemedicine and its fast expansion in the last few years is a direct result of the work of thought leaders. Innovative ideas, backed with support from businesses and users and followed by improved incomes, ensure telemedicine will have a place in the future of health care.
Benefits to Business
Telemedicine’s fast growth results from thought leaders’ guidance. In turn, that rapid expansion of the field supports thought leaders, giving their ideas credibility with improved income to back it up. The varied ways to implement telemedicine come with varied ways to improve the financial aspect, for both businesses and users. Doctors who welcome telemedicine into their practices find it saves money in some areas and generates new income in others. Patients reap the benefits of accessibility; in services that were unavailable before and being able to seek medical advice faster and more often.
One way embracing telemedicine proves its financial value to physicians is seen in improved interactions with patients. This technology allows doctors to connect with more patients, generating more income. But it is not a case of working more hours to bring in more money for the practice. Telemedicine allows the doctor to manage their time more efficiently by directing certain clients to either an in-person or virtual visit, depending on the nature of their request.
Although it excels at being an additional outlet for communicating with a patient, telemedicine cannot replace visits where a physical exam is necessary. However, a patient who needs a quick follow up after a procedure or one without an urgent condition could be offered telemedicine services. The patient actually appreciates this because they don’t want to make an unnecessary trip to their doctor’s office. In these cases, telemedicine frees the doctor up to see other people who had a more urgent issue. Overall, each of these patients receives medical care tailored to their needs.
Telemedicine benefits more than just patients in the waiting room. It saves the practice the money and time lost when a patient doesn’t show up. Because it often takes so long to schedule doctors’ office visits, patients may not be able to keep that appointment since other obligations may arise in the meantime. A no-show patient’s time slot can’t be refilled so becomes lost time and money for the doctor.
Another benefit is alleviating the reason patients have to schedule appointments weeks out. Traditionally, every patient is getting a block of time identical to the next, regardless of why they requested to see their physician. Directing minor issues, follow-ups, and simple questions to telemedicine does more than open a time slot for a more ill patient. Taking people who don’t need a physical exam out of the queue for the doctor’s attention shortens the waiting list. This leads to new patients who get to actually visit the physician much closer to when they called to make an appointment, reducing the need to make plans they might not be able to keep.
Doctors and Telemedicine
The objectives of both doctors and telemedicine are the same: provide quality healthcare for as many people as possible. Through the use of the technology, this aim is not only achieved, it is reaping benefits beyond that sole purpose.
On-demand access to medical care capitalizes on the issue of time by using it more efficiently. Patients and doctors are not limited to set hours in an office, nor are they bound by distance. Telemedicine seeks to meet the standards previously set forth through an in-person doctor visit with the same attention to details, privacy, and personalization.
It is cost-effective for patients and offers financial gains for doctors who may enlarge their practices. Some doctors see telemedicine as a way to have a second income. But let’s not forget the potential benefits retail stores can see with this technology. Offering telemedicine in chain stores like LensCrafters, Rite-Aid, or Walgreens gives customers a more comprehensive way to maintain their health in businesses which they already have come to trust.
The role of doctors in supporting telemedicine has gone from the visionary stage through the thought leadership process to demonstrate the real benefits of this technology. Yes, the doctors are not only “in” when it comes to telemedicine, they have become one of the driving forces behind this trend that is impacting the entire healthcare industry.
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?
by Joyce Handzo
Is your optical store meeting the needs of your customers? Do they purchase eyewear or do they leave because they don’t have a recent prescription? And before they leave without purchasing anything, do they ask why they can’t get their vision checked right there, right now?
Telemedicine provides people with a comprehensive way to purchase eyewear, from the vision exam right through to the selection of frames or contacts. Every owner of an optical store recognizes the frustration customers feel when they cannot purchase a new pair of glasses because they have an outdated prescription. Even though they swear their vision hasn’t changed in the past several years, it would be a disservice to their eye health to ignore the fact they need an exam.
But if you could offer these customers an on-the-spot vision exam using the telemedicine technologies, they can be assured of the right prescription and make their purchase as planned.
“Right now” are words that appeal to every customer. If they are in your optical store, they are looking to make a purchase. If they need a vision exam, “right now” is the perfect thing to say.
And the perfect pairing with these words can be something like the Smart Vision Exam. This autorefractor, made by Smart Vision Labs, is part of a self-guided system that conducts vision exams without the need for an on-site doctor. The technology is cutting edge: advanced wavefront aberrometry that measures vision imperfection. It uses an iPhone camera (making it much smaller than traditional autorefractors) but is as accurate (with a measurement error of one percent) when compared to the gold standard.
When you have technology like this in your optical store, you tell customers that you’re serious about the business of eye care.
Eye health is important to everyone but cost factors into many people’s decisions. Although vision insurance was supposed to level the financial playing field, it only seemed to direct patients to network doctors and facilities without giving them real cost-saving benefits.
Telemedicine changes that. When you offer technology for vision exams, you put the power of choice back into the patient’s hands. This is not only an affordable way to check vision; it’s a way to save money by putting dollars toward a convenient and accurate vision test instead of toward insurance that limits options.
Yes, telemedicine is worth the time it takes for you to learn the system (very easy, really) and the financial startup costs. Yet, when you have an optical store, the entire profit and loss spreadsheet has another dimension.
It all goes back to the first reason on this list about being patient centered. Optical stores have a mandate from their customers. Eyewear should be available and affordable, that’s a given. But with the use of telemedicine to provide vision exams, you position your business as an educator about the larger issue of eye health.
When people know that your optical store offers a convenient and cost-effective way to have their vision checked, they will know that it’s worth coming to your business for their eyewear purchases.
Telemedicine of Today
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?
How is telemedicine impacting your business? Whether you own one store or are the vice-president of a chain of stores, telemedicine can make a positive impact in several areas from increased customer satisfaction to an overall increase in revenue.
The field of telemedicine has been growing at exponential rates, in a direct correlation with the advances in technology. While this has been considered one of the biggest health trends within the past five years, there are several key elements that distinguish it from a temporary upgrade to a permanent player.
While most changes within a system originate from the top down, (with industry leaders creating a new environment) telemedicine is more of a product of the people than other types of trends. And it all starts with the defining presence of telemedicine.
Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. The keyword is “remote.” No longer do the health care provider and patient need to be in the same room or even in the same country. This is possible through the technology for live video interactions.
While it is the electronic advances that make this possible, it is the consumers who make this profitable (and not only in terms of dollars). Telemedicine is almost an extension of what people already know and accept. A majority of the population is familiar with video chat apps like Skype or Facetime. Most people have easy access to a computer or other mobile device. Technology-based telemedicine is, therefore, a smooth transition from apps that have every day use to ones that become more relevant to personal health care.
Who would have thought that an internet connection would literally upend this entire industry?
And who would have thought that consumers would not only actively use this technology but would find it convenient, cost-effective, and worthy to discuss via social media sites?
How is telemedicine impacting your business? If you’re still not sure about the possibilities and profitability, let’s review some myths and the truths behind them.
If you’re not already one of the businesses using telemedicine to support your employees and bolster your revenue, why aren’t you? Is it due to misconceptions? Or just a lack of time?
Whenever a new technology or way of doing things appears, in any field, it tends to be met with skepticism. This is especially true when the new service or method goes in a different direction than the old way, rather than just improving on something that is already established. While asking questions is always a good thing, doing your own investigation for the answers is even better.
Maybe you’re researching telemedicine for yourself right now?
A concern regarding telemedicine is that it’s just a fad, rather than the next big advancement in the field. Doctors who have been practicing for decades aren’t jumping at the prospect of devoting their valuable time to learning technologies which might not be around in a few years’ time. Understandably so. These doctors have seen many health fads come and go over their careers.
However, many of the reasons both health care and business professionals cite for not investing in telemedicine are based on old information or popular misconceptions. Here are a few of the telemedicine myths that have gained the most traction (and why they aren’t factual).
There are two main areas of concern which feed the myths around telemedicine: quality of care and financial investment. Partial truths, outdated information, and misunderstandings about how telemedicine works generated these myths.
Telemedicine is complicated, confusing, or has too many components to learn.
The verdict: only if you want it to be. You don’t have to hire an IT specialist just to offer telemedicine. While there is a lot happening on the technology side, the part you are likely concerned with rests on the user’s side. Successful platforms have simple, intuitive user interfaces. Some telemedicine applications have even been designed using a traditional doctor’s feedback, which might make using it more familiar to you.
The versatility of telemedicine is beneficial for the provider as well as the patient. The many ways to implement it means you can tailor which telemedicine services would best suit your business, patients, and bottom line. All at the same time.
Telemedicine isn’t secure enough to ensure patients’ privacy.
The verdict: not necessarily. Like nearly anything that companies use, video conferencing comes in two types: consumer and business. Consumer platforms are meant for use by the general public while business-grade applications are created for a targeted solution.
It is true that consumer-grade video conferencing platforms (like Skype and its competitors) are not secure enough to be HIPAA compliant. However, telemedicine-specific technology does exist. There are video conferencing applications which were created solely for use in telemedicine and to honor HIPAA regulations.
Telemedicine can’t replace a physical exam, therefore, it isn’t worth offering.
The verdict: partial truth. It is true telemedicine can’t replace a physical examination but not every doctor visit really requires it. Doctors already give basic medical advice and hold simple discussions with their patients over the phone. Telemedicine just gives patients another option for addressing these minor issues.
Besides people with non-urgent medical concerns, telemedicine benefits other types of patients, particularly those with chronic conditions which need monitoring or those who need follow-ups to in-person visits.
Which is a hint about the next set of myths.
Telemedicine is a waste of money and resources because people won’t use it.
The verdict: false. It turns out, people don’t like to wait for things, whether it is at the supermarket checkout, in line for a new smartphone, or for health care. Except with that last one, you don’t get to come home with a new gadget or favorite snack. Nearly everyone has a memory of sitting in their doctor’s waiting room for a quick 5-minute visit while everyone else seems to have fallen victim to flu season.
But, unlike waiting in line for a retail store, the time it takes to see a doctor is even longer. The average time to schedule doctor’s appointments in the United States is 24 days, according to Forbes. Major cities suffer even longer wait times.
Once the patient actually gets in the office, the situation still doesn’t improve. A 2015 Software Advice survey found 97 percent of respondents were upset at long wait times at the doctor, even though 45 percent waited less than 15 minutes. The same survey also reports that 75 percent of patients who have never used telemedicine services would consider trying them.
For non-critical cases, telemedicine provides convenience and flexibility for the patient. Providing supplementary care to traditional health appointments is the ideal use scenario for telemedicine. Think of the reverse side of that situation as well. A busy doctor, in the middle of flu season, uses an appointment block to see a patient that only needed a quick follow-up. Using telemedicine, that doctor can see another patient who does need a physical exam and offer care to the follow-up patient.
Telemedicine doesn’t allow for proper compensation or reimbursement for the doctor.
The verdict: no longer true. There are two aspects to the payment issue: ease of reimbursement and concern about doctors being properly compensated for their time.
Laws and regulations don’t evolve and update with nearly the speed technology does. Although telemedicine has been around for decades, its quick growth is recent. It was previously difficult for providers to be reimbursed for telemedicine use but state laws are finally catching up. 24 states so far have “parity laws” which ensure telehealth services are treated the same as an in-person visit. Insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid are recognizing telemedicine services as legitimate and reimbursing them on a par with traditional visits.
As for compensation, doctors might actually be losing revenue by not delegating some tasks to telemedicine services. Doctors already aren’t being paid for the time they spend refilling prescriptions or discussing medical information with their patients over the phone. That time could be spent with a patient who is physically in their waiting room while the routine prescription refill gets handled by telemedicine. Doing so also increases the satisfaction of the refill patient because you’ve created the convenience of allowing them to not even leave their home.
Telemedicine puts doctors at risk for malpractice lawsuits.
The verdict: false. It’s actually the opposite. To start, it is intended to supplement traditional in-person visits. It alleviates strain on already crowded offices while still offering care to patients who don’t need an exam. It saves money for patients and provides a new point of income for physicians. Telemedicine’s growth in recent years is related to these aspects of expanding health care options. Issuing a malpractice claim to a doctor who used videoconferencing with a patient is absurd when doctors have been discussing medical issues with patients over the telephone for decades. The service didn’t change, the technology did.
Telemedicine actually provides some additional protection against malpractice claims. Especially concerning post-op patients and those with chronic conditions, services like video conferencing create a new point of contact between patient and doctor. The patient can communicate with their physician more often and if problems arise, notice and treat them sooner. It also provides another means to document the services given.
How is Telemedicine Impacting Your Business?
Telemedicine impacts businesses in several ways. The technology is effective if you are either the provider of health care services or the facilitator of them. Whether you own an optical store and offer the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam, or are in charge of a chain of stores that need a boost in revenue, telemedicine can work for you.
This is perhaps the most significant change in the health care industry since it is embraced by a variety of people, from patients to doctors, to insurance providers. As business owners already know, implementing a new course of action requires acceptance and easy compliance, and with telemedicine, those conditions have already been met.
Telemedicine is not only profitable, it’s possible, and that’s the difference between failure and success. Making use of this technology adds value to your business in ways that will position you at the forefront of this healthcare trend that is revealing its true potential with every virtual visit.
Eye Health Begins with You
Vision Exams and Eye Health
Eye Care Tips Your Eye Doctor Wish You Knew
You Really Should Have Your Eyes Examined!
“I love your new glasses! And I am so happy that you finally got your vision checked.”
Your friend laughs and agrees that it took a while to admit that reading a book with outstretched arms was not the smartest (or most comfortable) thing to do.
“Where did you get your vision checked? Did you have a long wait?”
She laughs again and says that the entire exam was about 5 minutes.
You don’t laugh because when you went to the eye doctor you were there for over an hour.
Your friend explains that she went to an optical store for the Smart Vision Labs 5-Minute Vision Exam.
“But don’t you need to see an eye doctor?”
Good question and one that a lot of people are asking. Can a 5-minute vision exam replace your eye doctor? The answer is yes and no.
Vision Exams vs. Eye Exams
A vision exam, like the one provided through Smart Vision Labs, is known as a refraction test which measures a person’s need for prescription glasses or contacts.
Eye exams are comprehensive evaluations that include a refraction test, examination of both the external and internal parts of the eyes, and a test of the fluid pressure.
Both of these exams are valuable diagnostic tools to maintain optimal eye health. In fact, the American Optometric Association recommends that people between the ages of 18 and 60 get a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years.
Telemedicine and the Eye Doctor
Telemedicine doesn’t seek to replace the eye doctor; this technology works alongside licensed ophthalmologists who review the data generated at the exam and to write prescriptions if needed. It would be best to take the “us vs. them” mentality out of the equation. Telemedicine is an effective way to diagnose and offer corrective lenses.
With telemedicine, the doctor is always “in.” With cloud technology, the doctor can access a patient’s records and make an appropriate diagnosis. This is not only convenient, it’s a cost-effective option. People in rural areas or those who are homebound also benefit because they do not have to physically show up at an office for a vision exam. Through video conferencing and smartphone apps, doctor can actually connect with more patients than ever before.
Something Old, Something New
Telemedicine is one of the most significant heathcare trends, yet it really isn’t new. While its presence and potential is literally disrupting the eyecare industry on all levels, it is able to do that now because of the recent advances in technology. Add to that a patient base which is looking to save time and money, and there is no question that telemedicine is able to outperform the older methods of doctor and patient communication.
But should you never schedule an in-person visit with an eye doctor again? No. Have your eyes examined at least every two years with an in-person visit.
But also make use of telemedicine for vision exams. And here’s a secret that sets telemedicine apart from the old ways. People will take a proactive stance with their vision care when they can get an exam at their convenience, without long waiting times, and be able to afford it.
Telemedicine gives power to the patients without diminishing the role of healthcare professionals. And that’s a healthy vision we can all embrace.
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Vision Industry Disruptors!
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How Would Describe Your Last Vision Exam?
The term smart glasses is an understatement. On a very basic level, they function as glasses. Yes, the kind that will help your astigmatism. No vision problems, you say? No worries. The lenses can be non-corrective or you might opt for sunglasses with UV protection.
Yet, these smart glasses are more than just vision-related. They are wearable tech which literally lets you “see” beyond the parameters of the here and now. On a not-so-basic level, they are computers that add information to what you are seeing. This is done through either an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) or embedded wireless glasses with an augmented reality (AR) overlay that can reflect projected digital images. By using cellular technology or Wi-Fi, smart glasses can run self-contained mobile apps. You could even communicate via natural language voice commands.
Just about anything. They can improve vision if you have corrective lenses or protect your eyes from UV exposure to the sun. But that is like saying a car has four tires; you expect that, right?
Smart glasses can let you listen to music, track your activity, make calls, and hear turn-by-turn directions. No need to look at your phone to do these things. Gesture controls allow you to answer a call with a tap on the frames or swipe them to change songs.
While these applications are convenient and cool, there are other possibilities for smart glasses in various sectors. In the workplace, they can provide virtual assistance to employees. No need to memorize a manual of steps to take; these glasses can direct and guide with accuracy. The new employee doesn’t have to be monitored by a colleague, which saves both time and money. Inspections can be done remotely, and supervisors can oversee their staff.
In health care, smart glasses can give patients and doctors a way to communicate. They are an effective tool in telemedicine, allowing doctors to access a patient’s data easily and make an appropriate diagnosis.
Yet, smart glasses are virtually indistinguishable from traditional glasses. They can be just as compact and stylish as their non-tech counterparts. While most people wear glasses because they have to (as in have-to-see-better) smart glasses are worn because they offer so much more than just prescription lenses.
But which one is right for you?
But specs aren’t the only thing that matters in tech, especially with these “spec-tacles.” Aesthetic has always had a place in tech. People want to use products that aren’t just top-of-the-line but that are attractive. The design of the product becomes even more important in wearable tech. People may compromise on an unattractive laptop but it’s much harder to justify “only specs matter” when the product is right on your face. Especially in recent years, as glasses have gone from necessary for vision correction to unique fashion statements.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, failing to account for this was a major misstep of some of the initial ventures into smart glasses. Many of the earlier models of smart glasses crammed the full spectrum of smartphone features into a pair of glasses. But, as technically impressive as this was, the general public was not enthused. Smart glasses were too “nerdy” and wearing a pair conveyed an interest in tech rather than a futuristic cool. Combined with the privacy concerns of essentially having a fully-functional smartphone hidden in a pair of glasses, the general public rejected the new innovations.
But smart glasses startups have responded to the public and the mistakes of their predecessors. Wearable tech has to package the functions in an aesthetically pleasing package. Newer companies have also recognized the appeal (and necessity) of limiting features. Yes, you can have a fully-functional video camera in a pair of glasses, but is it a good idea?
The Wall Street Journal’s continued coverage of smart glasses includes how they have gone from reaching a broad audience of the general public to more niche sectors. The product can target certain consumers more effectively by improving the features they need and not complicating the process with the ones they don’t.
Here are some notable smart glasses that haven’t abandoned the dream but have re-tooled their product and message to incorporate more fashionable glasses and select features.
Were you one of the people who thought glasses that could record video was an interesting feature? Many were at least intrigued by the idea, even if ultimately public privacy concerns overruled the technical capability. But previous product failures didn’t mean the idea needed to be abandoned entirely. Snap definitely didn’t think so.
Snap devised a way to leave the camera in the glasses while protecting others’ privacy in public. They might be the perfect company to take on this challenge. Even if you’re unfamiliar with their Spectacles, you most likely know (or use) the mobile app they are well-known for: Snapchat. Their approach certainly makes good use of both their smart glasses related acquisitions and their popular image messaging platform.
If the average user is seeking to use their smart glasses to take video, chances are they’re looking to share it with friends and followers on social media. Snap Spectacles tackle smart glasses with video recording with respect for security along with simple sharing and do so in a fun-looking pair of sunglasses.
The smart sunglasses show off a bold design and bright color options and while recording, small lights circle around the camera signaling it’s on. Instead of sneaking a camera into glasses, Snap Spectacles make it the focal point. Pressing a button on the frame starts recording a 10-second long Snap. Recorded as a circular video, the glasses sync wirelessly with your smartphone, allowing you to share your Snap.
But not everyone gave up on the amazing technology that allows all the capabilities of a smartphone to reside in a frame and lenses.
The Vuzix M300 builds on the success of their popular M100 glasses. These fully-featured smart glasses don’t forego features to alleviate security concerns. Instead, they changed their marketing strategy.
The first thing you notice about the M300 glasses are their mature, professional appearance. The dark color and simple frame could be found right in an eyeglass showroom, if not for the computer module and camera attached. They also added nose pads so they fit like a regular pair of prescription glasses as well.
Vuzix found their target audience in the business sector. Employees from remote help desk operators to doctors have found smart glasses to be useful in their line of work. Anyone who needs their hands free while they access a computer could benefit from smart glasses. This is especially vital for people whose fields are unpredictable or requires managing many aspects at once. Having fully-featured smart glasses keeps them from being tied to a mobile device or computer to read and relay information.
The technology and highly specific applications in which smart glasses excel is a perfect match for businesses who have technical tasks which need to be performed efficiently and safely. You might easily picture smart glasses right at home in a boardroom meeting but what about workers with more physical professions?
Like Vuzix, ODG also finds their ideal consumer is in an enterprise. Like other recent smart glasses, they know design is just as important as what features are included. Combining their enterprise consumer, the relation of design and function, along with the idea that more hands-on professions can benefit from smart glasses resulted in the R-7HL glasses.
The R-7HL glasses might not be as attractive as some of the other models mentioned so far, however, their design complements their function. The HL in their name stands for “hazardous location.” These smart glasses are meant for workers who don a hard hat and protective gear instead of a business suit. ODG mentions applications like oil production and mining to give an image of the type of environment these glasses were created for.
Although it’s not quite “fashion,” the design of the R-7HL glasses is important to their consumer. To create this model, ODG actually redesigned much of their R-7 glasses, responding to their consumer who asked for a rugged product. The R-7HL’s augmented reality allows people in dangerous jobs to still get important information while keeping their hands at their work where it matters way more than at a company meeting table.
Unlike the models intended for enterprise use, the Vue glasses seek to appeal to the general public again, using the successes and failures of their predecessors. Judging by their successful Kickstarter campaign, they may have achieved this.
The Vue glasses don’t even offer augmented reality. Instead, they work through bone conduction which allows the glasses to function as an activity tracker and to offer earbud-free music listening. The wearer uses a touchpad on the side of the frame to interact with the glasses, such as to change the song with a swipe. Just as easy as on a smartphone but without having to pull it out of your pocket (and untangle your earbuds).
So without AR and what seems like simple features, how did this product get funded? As seems to be the theme with successful and hyped smart glasses alike, they don’t look like a “nerdy” accessory. In fact, leaving out the AR and using bone conduction technology allows Vue to eliminate the computing device which typically rests on the side of the frame for more fully-featured smart glasses. The resulting product is indistinguishable from an ordinary pair of glasses. Except with those activity tracking and music listening experiences. See the appeal?
We’ve seen the “smart” features, but how about a quick look at the “glasses” part? Like the Vue, these smart glasses also don’t have AR but that doesn’t disqualify them from using the name. The glasses listed so far have basically been head-mounted augmented reality devices (or at least offer supplementary features in the form of a pair of glasses). But researchers from the University of Utah have used the “smart” to improve the glasses.
These smart glasses have liquid lenses which allow them to change the focus, depending on the wearer’s needs. Regular prescription glasses can only correct one thing at a time. If you see well up close with your reading glasses on, your vision will be blurry when you look up from your book. These glasses would change for you instead of you changing your glasses.
The glasses connect with a smartphone app which contains the user’s prescription and changes the focus of the lens through Bluetooth. Inputting a new prescription results in the lens changing. This technology is very promising to people who switch between distance and reading glasses as well as bifocal users.
But even with these glasses that have the capability to improve people’s quality of life, design matters. As the average glasses-wearing consumer is the target market for these liquid lenses, their appearance is important. Even the leading researchers on this project acknowledge that the frames need engineering for aesthetic purposes before they will be suitable to offer to the public.
Glasses are no longer function over form. Engineers and designers, along with creative minds, need to collaborate to make glasses everyone can be excited for. No need to sacrifice looks. That’s what glasses are all about anyway.
Upstarts and Startups in Eyewear Fashion
Vision Industry Disruptors!
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry
Telemedicine of Today
Millennials are more than a buzzword heard on the news. They’re the largest generation since their parents’ and the very first to grow up with digital devices. This combination means products must reach this group and that the old ways of doing so are less effective.
The generally-agreed upon definition for a millennial is a person who was part of the 18 to 34 age demographic in 2015. However, the media has attached their own traits to this group. Self-centered, technology-obsessed, or entitled are common complaints about millennials.
Because of the sheer size of this group, the eyecare industry needs to reach them. However, these negative connotations have resulted in millennials distancing themselves from the term. Despite how true it may be, eyewear created for millennials cannot use that word in their advertising strategy because it seems disconnected and condescending. Several surveys concluded that only around one third of millennials identify with the term. What is the best method to appeal to this group then?
By reaching out and responding to their ideals in a positive way.
This group assigns high priority to expressing individuality. They are the most likely generation to investigate and factor in the ethics of a company. And never experiencing life without a computer nearby means eyecare marketing needs to adapt to the ways millennials communicate, network, and share information online.
To reach out to this group, a company needs to be aware of these issues. In the pre-Internet era, a company’s ethics were a non-factor, unless they did something notable enough to reach the traditional media outlets. Today, stories about any action a company takes, good or bad, can be shared around the world with a tap a smartphone screen. A millennial’s decision to support or boycott a product can be decided in a split second as they read through posts and shared stories on their social media account.
Their individualism also results in support of indie brands. They purchase a unique product as well as the satisfaction of supporting a business which might be operated by only a single person. A millennial’s questioning of the status quo means they are more likely to seek out and support one-of-a-kind, socially conscious and environmentally-friendly businesses or startups.
But what do they look for when shopping for eyewear?
Millennials want choice and change, which is exactly what the eyecare industry disruptors are bringing. Transparency in the eyecare business no longer refers to just the see-through quality of lenses; this is a movement to invite the consumer to have more power and a voice that is heard.
Millennials want to be included in the buying experience. The millennial market is expected to grow within the next five years and industry experts are positioning themselves to reach this consumer base effectively.
In eyewear, millennials want style, color and the ‘cool’ factor. While quality and price are also on their list, millennials view eyewear as a way to stand out and make an impression; cost is a consideration but not a deal-breaker. To this generation, eyewear is a necessary accessory. Whether the glasses are used to correct refractive errors or are worn to protect against UV rays, millennials want to stylishly combine form and function.
This generation is also visually-oriented. They view color, shapes, and designs as ways to express their individuality in whatever event they attend. When selecting eyewear, they like choices whether in-person or online. Choosing is a big part of the buying experience for them and eyecare professionals would do well to keep that in mind.
Millennials want change in the eye care industry as well. At the forefront is customer service. This is a generation that connects and communicates. In-person, they want a knowledgeable sales staff that listens and knows the latest trends. Online, they want to be able to open a chat or join a forum to express their views or ask a question. Social media is the voice of millennials and insightful marketers will speak this language.
An excellent example of a company that has embraced all of these concepts is DITA Eyewear. This company was established in Los Angeles in 1995 with one mission: to create unique, innovative, and finely crafted eyewear. This company has not only heard the voice of the millennial consumer, they are actively giving that voice expression through designing eyewear that connects and communicates with them on their own terms.
In line with their individualism, millennials don’t accept the status quo the eyecare industry has set. They question the “why” of the entire system, from how they get the prescription to the moment they put those new glasses on. The goals of eyecare industry disruptors tend to align with the ideals of millennials which has resulted in the creation and flourishing of the online eyewear market.
Disruptors seek to create transparency so the consumer can see how the industry was operating and how much more efficient it could be which aids the ethics research millennials do. Use of technology, from smartphone vision tests to 3D printed frames, shows this generation that the company is current and interested in achieving ideals rather than relying on old methods. Businesses who create frames from recycled material or ones who seek to improve the availability of glasses in developing countries allows millennials to support philanthropic causes and gives reason to spread the word about the company.
Indie companies are making huge changes in the eyewear industry. This would not have been possible before the technology, desire for change, and millennials to share their ideals and support their businesses.
When it comes to vision exams, millennials want convenience. They have fully embraced technology and understand its usefulness. They are also confident in using digital devices and are among the first demographic to try out new technology. When vision care providers understand this mindset, they are better able to address the concerns of this group of consumers.
Convenience comes in the form of being able to schedule vision exams at times beneficial to them, or not having to schedule an appointment at all. The last idea may seem a bit radical since traditional exams require going through a gate-keeper to set up an appointment, and then sitting in a waiting room wondering why your time for the exam has been delayed.
Smart Vision Labs has a simple and very effective solution. They offer a 5-minute Smart Vision Exam that doesn’t even require an appointment. When a millennial shows up at one of the participating vision care providers, the exam can begin.
There is a paperwork part of the vision test, in which consumers are asked basic information and general questions about their overall health. Specific questions about any eye problems or concerns will also be asked. Wavefront technology scans the person’s eyes, photos of the eyes will be taken, and all of the data will be sent to a licensed ophthalmologist to review. If a prescription is needed, it will be sent via email to the person within 24 hours.
Convenient? Yes. Millennials also appreciate the use of technology to store their vision care results and make their prescriptions accessible. Smart Vision Labs offers consumers a password-protected portal in which to view and download their prescription. And that prescription, as well as the vision exam results, will be accessible whenever they log in.
Millennials know the power of technology to offer a convenient approach to eye care. This consumer group will shun traditional and outdated business models in favor of more tech-savvy ones. When they want a vision exam, they will look for convenience (on their terms) and digital devices to streamline the process.
The future of vision care providers needs to include the very real expectations of millennials. Convenience is possible because of technology, yet there is a certain boldness that requires those in the eyecare industry to put it to use. When dealing with eye care and vision exams, there shouldn’t be a ‘let’s-see-if-the-market-is-ready’ approach; providers who are truly committed to eye health will use every means possible to encourage people to get regular vision exams.
Millennials’ impact on the eyecare industry is only just beginning. Besides being poised as the next generation of consumers, millennials are unique in several ways. There is an increase in myopia in this age group which will create a direct correlation to their involvement with all things pertaining to eyecare. Research is being conducted to determine the cause of this growing trend, and there is a popular theory that not only offers an explanation but may help define this generation.
The ‘near work’ hypothesis suggests that this age group has strained their eyes through reading and using smartphones and other digital devices. Another correlation appears to be between the increased education level of millennials and myopia.
These apparent causes for the frequency of myopia also define this group. They are very interested and comfortable with technology and place a high value on education. Millennials bring these traits to the opticians and optical stores and will shop according to where their beliefs are best implemented.
When purchasing prescription glasses or sunglasses, millennials look for frames that will create the image they want to project. This is a generation that loves all things unique, indie retailers, customized frames, and colors. Their view of glasses is balanced by the idea that they are not just an accessory. Form and function play a key role in their choice of eyewear.
And millennials are the group that will research how their prescription glasses and frames are made. They love to be part of the process through educating themselves. They ask questions and expect answers. They especially like to share their opinions on social media or forums.
Millennials are more than just a group of consumers; they are people who love connecting and expressing themselves. This can translate into sales for the linear-thinking marketers but for those in the eyecare industry who want to make a real impression, this is something to listen to. Give the millennials a voice and invite them to be part of the changes that are happening in this industry. Think of them less of a consumer and more of a partner.
Millennials know what they want, where to get it, and why it’s the best for them. And they love to share these thoughts with others. Opticians and optical stores should never overlook the impact of this generation.
Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Telemedicine of Today
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
Try looking down.
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.
Ah, 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.
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?
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?
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.
No Stress Vision Exams
Vision Exams and Eye Health
How Would Describe Your Last Vision Exam?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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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