|Global EyeVentures’ EyeXam gives patients their own means for conducting self-guided vision screenings, finding ECPs, corresponding with practices, and more.|
|LOOKING AHEAD WITH APPS According to appsolutegenius.com, “By 2016, mobile devices will be downloading, transferring, sending, and receiving more than 10.8 exabytes of data per month (which roughly translates to 813 quadrillion text messages, 4.3 quadrillion MP3 files, and 33 billion DVDs).” Mobile device apps are used to drive the majority of this data transfer. They aren’t just for consumers, they can also solve real business problems and contribute to your bottom-line business goals. Be sure to get on the bandwagon, use them in your practice, and recommend them to your patients.|
|APP HISTORY LESSON On July 10, 2008, Apple released its App Store into the Internet wild, and the reaction from consumers was amazing. Hungry for as much content as possible, people began downloading immediately and it helped make the iPhone what it is today. Take a look back at Steve Jobs’ introduction of the App Store on March 13, 2008, and compare where apps are today by going to this YouTube video.|
|Eyemaginations’ ECHO app is ideal for patient education.|
|Patients can get the full effect of a new pair of Silhouette frames after downloading iMirror.|
ECPs can benefit from the many apps that can enhance their practice as well as recommend appropriate ones to patients.
As our use of handheld digital technology increases, apps are evolving into an integral part of our everyday experience. These days, it seems like there is an app for just about anything imaginable. In fact, there have been over 60 billion downloads (Google reports similar stats for the Android platform). So consumers (a.k.a. your patients) are getting accustomed to turning to mobile apps to help make their lives easier, make themselves smarter, and to discover new products and services. I’m happy to report that the eyecare industry has its share of strong industry-related applications. Some apps have been developed with patients’ needs in mind, and some are geared to helping ECPs get better at what they do.
Below are a few apps worth checking out. They will either be useful for the management of your practice or encourage your patients to engage with your practice. Either way, they are practice builders.
Global EyeVentures’ free consumer-facing mobile app allows patients to conduct self-guided vision screenings, find the nearest ECP (via a built-in GPS locator), request and schedule eye exams, and have two-way communications with the office. It also gives the ECP back-end patient engagement software to manage the process and market to consumers. EyeXam is a proven leader, with nearly 1.5 million consumer downloads to date. Patient acquisition and retention are enhanced by way of a free listing or upgraded subscription-based services for ECPs on the app, which is available on Apple and Android platforms.
There are several apps available for mobile devices that allow a user to do a “vision test.” Most ECPs do not endorse a do-it-yourself vision test mobile app, however, there might be a few apps that they will recommend to patients to assist in monitoring certain eye conditions between office visits. Some apps, such as SightBook™ by DigiSight Technologies (free), provide screening or vision monitoring tests such as the Amsler Grid test, DigiGrid™, and several acuity and contrast testing options. With SightBook, patients can record test results and allow the ECP to view the results to monitor disease or treatment progress.
The free iMirror app is a real-time virtual mirror that lets users see themselves modeling Silhouette eyewear via a mobile device. Using augmented reality technology, patients can move from side to side while looking at their mobile device and see Silhouette eyewear (virtually) on their face as if it was actually being worn. This app is available on iTunes-just search for iMirror.
Ideal for use in the exam room, the ECHO app for iPad (from Eyemaginations, Inc.) offers easy access to all your favorite content, so you can draw on screen, play videos, and share presentations with your patients via email, social media, and iMessage. Airplay and an Apple TV enable ECPs to use the app to stream content from an iPad to a TV screen, making it possible to educate patients without the mess of excessive cables. The ECHO iPad app is free to download, but use requires an ECHO Professional license. This app is also available for iPhone.
Patients can make appointments for your practice online with ZocDoc. This site also sends patients to you as ZocDoc attracts consumers to its site and has a “search doctor” feature. This subscription-based service is available on Apple and Android platforms.
While the EyeCare app may seem a bit obscure, it really makes sense. With people so fixated on computer screens for hours at a time these days, most ECPs recommend to their patients to take an occasional “visual break.” This app helps remind them to do that. The American Optometric Association (AOA) encourages people who engage in heavy use of digital devices to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes, during which they look at something 20 ft. away. EyeCare patients can follow the 20-20-20 rule by setting up reminder alarms for maintaining the process.
Some practices have had apps developed specifically for their practice, like the Clarkson Eyecare app in the iTunes store. These customized apps can be developed at a relatively low cost, and can have features such as online appointment setting, directions to the practice, specials, and eyecare terminology (great for Search Engine Optimization-SEO). Just search on app developers in Google and find a company that fits your budget.
AN OD-CREATED APP
Have you searched and searched but still can’t find an app that best suits your needs? Create one! That’s what New York City-based Jason E. Compton, OD, with Fromer Eye Centers did two years ago. For decades, contact lens professionals have used journals to obtain contact lens product information, he explains. While this was an adequate tool in the past, it’s quickly becoming obsolete. His free app, TheRightcontact.com, is a platform that allows eyecare professionals to perform detailed parameter searches on contact lenses and contact lens products. Listing over 2,000 products from more than 150 different contact lens manufacturers, users can now easily search and compare these products more efficiently than using a print version.
This is only a sampling of eyecare- and vision-related apps. To get a more expansive overview of what is available, go to the Apple iTunes apps store or the Google Play apps store while using your mobile device and search on eyecare or vision. Each app has a user rating so be sure to monitor the rating before using it or recommending it to a patient.
Bob Main is an optical industry veteran with over 35 years of retail optical experience, with the last 10 years specifically focused on the Internet and social media.
|WHERE TO FIND IT:|
digisight.net (search SightBook)
|The Right Contact
|Silhouette Optical, Ltd.