Low Vision Technology

 

Closed Circuit TeleVisions (CCTVs) have evolved into one of the most useful tools used by people with low vision for accessing printed information. A more descriptive name for these technology tools is video or electronic magnifiers. This category has expanded so rapidly that we now have several distinct sub-categories including: desktop models, hand-held camera models, electronic pocket models, and digital imaging systems.

Computer/Screen Magnification Technologies: Hardware & Software Accessing computers and other electronic devices can be difficult for people with low vision. In addition to hardware options such as larger monitors, monitor extension arms, and Fresnel lens magnifiers, there is a wide variety of software options available to assist in this area.

*        Display property adjustments to operating system and application software
*        Accessibility features of operating system
*        Cursor enhancement software
*        Screen magnification software such as freeware/shareware, low cost and mid-priced magnifiers, full-featured magnifiers

Other Useful Technologies for People with Low Vision: Many people with low vision find some auditory and some tactile tools useful for certain tasks. Topics covered include:

*        E-book readers – auditory/visual
*        Cell phones – auditory/visual
*        Tablets
*        GPS – auditory/visual
*        Calculators/dictionaries – auditory/visual

 

Partner with a CL Distributor to Make Reordering Convenient and Simple

Use a contact lens distributor to maintain your inventory and streamline patient reorders. The payoffs: Less work for you, and you retain valuable CL patients.

You may use ABB CONCISE’s contact lens distribution services and be able to offer enhanced contact lens services to patients. You may decide to use a distributor to reduce the number of individual contact lens companies you deal with. That way you can have one bill for all of the contact lenses that you order. The key advantages of ordering through a distributor are: enhanced customer service, availability of all of the contact lenses that you fit, fast turn-around time (if the order is placed before 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, you can have the lenses in your office the next day), your reps from all of the contact lens companies receive “credit” for the orders you place through ABB CONCISE and you always have trial lenses available.

In turn, using the full range of services of a contact lens distributor allows you to better the patient experience:

Set Up CL Patients to Order on Practice Web Site

By setting up all of your soft contact lens wearers to order their contacts on your web site via ABB CONCISE’s online contact lens ordering system Yourlens.com, you would be reducing your ABB CONCISE bill, and increasing the size of the check you will receive mid-month, which represents “profit” on the sale of contacts from your practice. There is a Yourlens.com a direct link on our web site so patients can order online themselves. You may also have a link to Yourlens.com on your Facebook page. That way you can make sure that every new and existing contact lens patient is set up to order off your web site, and you can send a confirmation e-mail to them while they are still here in the office. 

Ordering via Distributor Web Site Enhances Compliance

You can encourage patients to order their year’s supply or select the “auto ship” feature when placing their contact lens order to ensure compliance with the wearing and replacement schedule of their contact lenses. The key advantage of Yourlens.com is the ease of use. You should be able to better serve your patients by not only providing them with comprehensive eyecare (evaluating the fit of their contact lenses and the health of all of the ocular structures,etc.) but also educating them on the importance of the proper care and replacement schedule for their contacts, and sending them a link to order their supply. In many cases, patients order while they are in your office from their smartphones or as soon as they get home.

Market Contact Lens Services Using Multimedia

The marketing of these CL services may be done in your print ads in U.S. 1 newspaper and Town Topics in a syndicated column that appears every other week in both papers, and through e-mail blasts with Websystems III at your office. 

Optimize Relationship with Distributor Rep

Your ABB CONCISE rep, should make him/herself available via phone, e-mail and regular visits to your office. Reps can put together laminated sheets that you can use as a tool to educate patients about the savings they will realize when they order a year’s supply of their contact lenses. The quarterly report of contact lenses that ABB CONCISE compiles would help to keep you cost-competitive with your online pricing. In addition to these reports that are produced for you,you are able to go online to the ABB CONCISE web site to track your contact lens inventory finances yourself-making the service a win-win for both you and your patients.

How Will the Economy Affect Your Next Eyeglasses Purchase?

The economy seems to make no difference in the eyewear buying habits of 30.8% of consumers, who say they will not change their buying behavior because of the state of the economy, according to The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch Economic Situation Study: April 2012. On the other hand, 28.8% say they will use their current eyeglasses for a longer period of time and hold off on purchasing new eyeglasses. Some 25.3% say they will search for the best value when shopping for prescription eyeglasses while 21% say they will continue to use their old frames and only purchase new lenses. Some 5.9% say they will use the internet to purchase their next pair of prescription eyeglasses while 8.8% will try and save money by purchasing multiple pairs of eyeglasses at the same time. Some 19.1% say they will spend less than they spent in the past on the eyeglasses they end up buying.

What are the strategies we want to accomplish with our patients?

1.  We want to provide our patients the best care in services and materials.

2.  We want to provide for all of our patients’ needs (e.g.: indoor, outdoor, computer, safety).

What tactics should we use to achieve our strategic objectives?

1.  Use a lifestyle history questionnaire to identify all of our patient’s needs.

2.  Prescribe an optical solution for each patient need where appropriate focusing on premium products.

3.  Work with patients to prioritize the solutions.

4.  Offer a multi-pair discount to increase the value of multiple pair sales (experience shows that significant movement does not occur until you offer between a 35% to 50% discount).

5.  Have clear visuals in your optical shop that you offer solutions for all price points.

6.   Explain to patients what they lose in benefits to their health, safety and function when they choose lower price points (focus on benefits, not features).

7.  Make sure at least 20% of your frame board is dedicated to sunwear.

8.   Review your frame board mix. Compare the number of frames you have on your board in each price point to the number of frames you actually sold last year in each price point. Remix your frame board to better reflect your strategic objectives and the reality of your practice.

9.  Make sure your office offers payment solutions such as CareCredit and PayPal.

10.  Make sure your patients with frame coverage on their vision insurance use it–it should be the rare exception that these people order lenses only.
Sit down with your staff today and implement a plan of action to help your patients get the best care for all of their needs.

Why Do People Own Multiple Pairs of Eyewear?

There are three main reasons: To use as a back-up in case they misplace their current eyewear, for convenience purposes (to have different pairs in different locations) and for functionality (to have different pairs for different activities), according to the Vision Council VisionWatch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report. Approximately 39.3% of multiple pair owners keep additional pairs of eyeglasses on hand to serve as back-ups or spares just in case they lose their current newest pair of eyeglasses. There was very little demographic difference between eyeglasses wearers who owned more than one pair for back-up purposes, although it seems that women and eyeglasses wearers from the Northeast were a little more likely to keep extra pairs of eyeglasses around in case their current eyeglasses are misplaced.

The most straightforward argument for multiple pair sales is the need for an indoor pair of eyeglasses and an outdoor pair of eyeglasses. No one pair can do everything for all situations. Just as dentists, as a group, tell patients they need their teeth cleaned every six months, eyecare professionals need to be united in telling patients they need an indoor pair of eyeglasses and an outdoor pair of eyeglasses.

The best discussion to have with patients about outdoor eyeglasses is to focus on safety and function. Safety means the ability to drive a car and minimize disabling glare from the sun with polarized sunwear or the ability to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes with UV blocking lenses. Function means the ability to comfortably read while sitting by the pool or to comfortably work in the garden in the mid-day sun.

From a tactical perspective, always present the outdoor prescription to the patient before presenting the indoor pair. This approach is most effective. The bottom line here is quality patient care. Patients who have indoor eyeglasses and outdoor eyeglasses have a higher quality of visual functioning than those who do not. Our goal is to help patients achieve the highest quality of visual functioning. Addressing this issue helps patients move in that positive direction.

Work with MDs to Treat Ocular Conditions with Specialty Contact Lenses

Specialty contact lenses can help to improve vision for patients with eye conditions such as kerataconus, cornea ectasia and post-surgical corneas. Co-managing  these conditions with MDs can take you down new avenues in patient care.

As most ODs know, patients with  corneal conditions are often treated by ophthalmologists through surgical procedures but, often, when surgery is not the best option, they can find improved vision through the use of custom contact lenses. You have a chance to partner with MDs to manage these patients with appropriate contact lenses. Doing so will enable you to better the lives of these patients while opening up another growth sector for your practice.

Consider if this Opportunity is Right for Your Practice

There is a cost to providing specialty contact lenses, so you need to consider whether this opportunity is right for your practice. Diagnostic kits are sometimes required to fit specialty contact lenses. While some of these kits are available as “loaner sets” from your preferred vendor, most have to be purchased, ranging from several hundred dollars to several thousand. To be truly capable of handling most complex cases, you’ll need to own several designs, leading to higher cost to the practice.

More importantly, an OD thinking about offering  specialty contact lenses services should consider that these are complex cases that require many office visits from the patient (most doctors would charge one global fee for prescribing and managing these lenses rather than charging per office visit), with hand-holding often required. Patients with difficult corneal issues understandably are already frustrated, so as a doctor, you need to have the patience to work with them until the proper physiological fit is achieved. This experience is far from your typical contact lenses management experience.

You also will need to sharpen your knowledge of surgical and non-surgical cases that will be coming to you, and you will have to fully understand the process of selecting the appropriate contact lens design. Consider the time you will need to spend reading articles about corneal conditions and specialty contact lenses fittings and the time you will need to invest in hands-on training for both you and your staff.

Prepare Practice

If you decide to move forward with this opportunity, the next step is deciding on the types of specialty lenses you will offer, and you will need to establish your budget for purchasing the diagnostic sets  required for medically managing these patients. You also will need to decide how your fee structure will work. Fees usually are derived from the complexity of the case, the number of anticipated follow-up visits and the skill level of the practitioner. Gain an understanding of third-party billing policies, benefit availability, and reimbursement for services and products from EACH plan regarding specialty contact lenses. After you’ve completed that process, create proper patient communication documents and procedures. You’ll need a professional quote sheet in order to explain all services, fees and product pricing. You should also be able to explain to patients warranty information and limitations.

Solicit Referrals

Your practice should build relationships with ophthalmologists who perform corneal or refractive surgery. You can send a letter to all corneal or refractive specialists located near your practice. You should then followed up with a call and a personal visit, bringing each of these doctors a few samples of specialty lenses that illustrated the newly designed, innovative lenses now available to improve vision for patients with conditions that cause the cornea to lose its proper shape. Typical candidates for custom-made contact lenses are patients with Keratoconus/Keratoglobus, post-surgical ectasia, corneal degenerative diseases, corneal trauma, high myopia and/or astigmatism or irregular astigmatism.

When an MD agrees to refer specialty contact lenses cases to you, commit to sending the doctor regular patient updates and final treatment reports.

Along with ophthalmologists, you should reach out to other ODs in your community. Many are not interested in taking on specialty contact lenses cases, and will be happy to refer this work to you.

Don’t forget to thank each doctor for referrals. You can do this by regularly calling them, taking them out to lunch or dinner or sending a gift basket to the staff or to a key referral coordinator.

Market Specialty Contact Lenses Services

Once you decide which specialty contact lenses vendors you will work with, find out if they have web sites with doctor-locate functions. If they do, ask that your name and contact information be included. Also consider adding a page or section on your practice’s web site that is devoted to specialty contact lenses. You also can advertise these services in your reception area, and you can do search engine optimization of your site so that your practice comes up nearer to the top of the search results for specialty contact lenses in your geographic area.

By providing specialty contact lenses services you can expand your medical eyecare by developing relationships with local MDs leading to more co-management opportunities and, most importantly, you can improve the quality of life of more patients.

Does a Warranty Help to Sell Children’s Frames?

41% of optical retailers said offering a warranty is very important to capturing children’s eyewear sales, according to Jobson Optical Research’s Kid’s Eyewear MarketPulse survey. 30% said it is somewhat important and 28% said it is not important at all.

From the numbers above we learned that 69% of people feel a warranty is either very important or somewhat important to a purchase. Let’s use this information to our advantage.

A core concept in marketing is, if you want to increase sales, then lower the bar to entry. Reducing risk lowers the bar to entry. Offering a warranty reduces risk.  

The more generous the warranty, the bar to entry is lowered even further. For example, a no-questions-asked warranty will generate more sales than a warranty just against manufacturers’ defects.

An interesting observation is that only a very few people will utilize the warranty. You may also have one or two people who abuse the warranty. So, in the big picture, a generous warranty is a positive selling tool.

A caveat is needed here. Align your warranty with your patient recall. If you have patients return every year for an exam, it does not make sense to give them a two-year–or worse yet, a lifetime–warranty.

Your action plan is to review your optical warranties. Make sure they are in line with your return policy and are attractive enough for patients to purchase product in your practice rather than down the street.