Digital communication is revolutionizing how consumers interact with retailers and medical providers, including optometrists. The emergence of digital devices have made them major vehicles for personal communication. These devices have become the primary tool people use to gather information and are increasingly used to purchase a wide range of goods and services. Digital devices are also becoming the primary vehicle in which patients communicate with their service providers
Based on facts found in an article posted by Review of Optometric Business, here is an overview of the status of the digital revolution in the U.S.:
- Nearly nine-in-10 households have Internet access at home. Some 73 percent of adults are online on a daily basis. Only among the elderly is Internet access and usage somewhat lower.
- Some 86 percent of adults 18-29 years of age own a smartphone, compared to 68 percent of all adults.
- Some 85-90 percent of adults purchase products online.
Apply these facts to our business.
Patients prefer mobile. Patients prefer to use their mobile and digital devices as their primary communication with service providers, including optometric practices.
Patients shop before they buy online. Patients preview eye wear online before purchase, make price comparisons, and purchase eye wear and contact lenses online. Patients are price conscious and educated.
Increase competition from corporate ODs. Commercial eye care providers will pioneer digital applications to facilitate refractions, capture purchases of managed care patients, increase eye wear and contact lens purchase frequency and capture rate. The effect will be to improve the patient experience at corporate providers.
Digital devices will be used in your office. Digital devices will increasingly be used to fit advanced eye wear and conduct refractions in-office.
Patients want to fill out forms online. Patients prefer to complete medical history and lifestyle questionnaires with digital devices.
Patients want to access their records online. Patients want online access to exam records and treatment plans.
Patients want to be educated by their ODs via digital. ECPs who use digital devices extensively to educate, refract and manage patients will be regarded by patients as technically advanced, enhancing ECP reputations for medical competence.
How can you translate these findings in to your increased practice success?
According to the Navigation Guide to Megatrends in the Eye Care Practice the following suggestions are recommended.
Upgrade the practice web site
○ Convey a distinctive, patient-centric practice mission.
○ Offer appointment-making and medical history functionality.
○ Showcase new products.
○ Offer product purchase functionality.
○ Update regularly with practice and product news.
○ Optimize the site for mobile devices.
Make sure you are connecting with your patients through as many lines of digital communications as you can offer. You can do this many ways including: creating a more convenient office experience by things such as allowing online check-in with mobile devices, reaching out through social media and providing an online patient portal through your EHR so that your patients have access to their medical records.