Vision-Ease Coppertone Polarized Lenses video describes the technology that makes them a premium choice in sun protection.
FaceTime allows patients to show, in real time, different frame styles to other family members or friends.
HOYA’s Spectangle is a popular tool that allows ECPs to capture the image of the patient wearing the frame and calculates everything needed for lens manufacturing.
Patients can contact their ECPs via Skype to show them damaged frames to find out if they are repairable.

The power of the tablet is stronger than ever with more growth expected.

Tablet use has enjoyed an explosive evolution over the last few years, with more developments to come. Experts predict tablet purchases will surpass PC sales by the end of 2014. The growth rate over the next four years is, in fact, expected to be nearly 79%, outpacing the rate of smartphones over the same time period. And that means more and more apps, which translates into additional ways to streamline and enhance a patient’s optical experience.

Start from the beginning: We have found tablet technology to be highly successful in the place your patient steps into first-the reception area. Here, the power of the tablet can be truly outstanding.

If you’re not already using apps for check-in and forms, do it now. The intuitive nature of the touch panel easily allows patients to edit and review health histories, verify information required for billing, and complete much of the routine check-in process. Simply giving the tablet to patients and having them complete the forms can free up your reception staff. With direct feed to the electronic health records, information captured on the tablet is automatically updated.

Patient education is another bonus. A variety of apps, including Eyemaginations ECHO or Eye- Motion can provide self-directed exploration of education materials on areas of specific interest. These applications can also be preloaded with product information videos and specific practice-oriented messages, offering up a more powerful sales punch. By starting the process here, patients can be easily (and entertainingly) introduced to lens and frame features and options before they even step into the exam room. The information can then be reinforced by the ECP during the exam, as well as in the retail area. (Note: An ECHO iPhone app was due to be released at press time.)

The use of tablets within the optical department promises a strong return on investment. Some examples follow.

Video Conferencing: Characteristics inherent to the tablet, such as camera and web-based communication, can help make the sale. FaceTime, a feature that allows an Apple product to hold a video conference with another Apple product, allows patients to directly show, in real time, different frame styles to other family members or friends. Skype is a similar feature that allows video conferencing with any web-enabled device. The patient no longer has to spend unnecessary time getting a second opinion before purchase.

Lens Features: We have tried to explain to patients how AR improves the cosmetics of lenses, how it enhances night vision, the importance of high index, and/or how different frames shapes influence lens edge thickness. And, like many ECPs, we have experienced the frustration and significant time lost in not being able to communicate the advantages and disadvantages of lens options. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer. Luckily, there are numerous applications available at low to no cost which show patients different features of what their final product will look like with and without the various options.

i.Demo from Carl Zeiss Vision Inc. (free to those with Zeiss accounts) is just one example of those which offer a wide assortment of lens demonstrations. Hoya HVC Viewer from HOYA Vision Care is another great lens app with superb PAL demonstration. Vision-Ease offers product videos that show the patients the advantages for both its LifeRx and Coppertone product lines. Each app talks to the benefits of the lenses. Additionally, in the LifeRx video, ECPs can view side-by-side representations of LifeRx and other lenses adjusting from light to dark and back again. The Coppertone Polarized Lenses video describes high-energy visible (HEV) light, as well as the technology that makes these lenses a premium choice in sun protection.

Frame Selection: Many frame manufacturers have begun developing tablet apps to market their frames. Silhouette iMirror and ProDesign Face It allow an individual to virtually try on different frames and explore different combinations of frame styles, lens shapes, lens size, frame colors, and accessories for a truly customized look.

Frame Fitting: Tablet technology also assists in the accuracy in frame fitting and lens measurements. HOYA’s Spectangle is a popular tool that allows ECPs to capture the image of the patient wearing the frame and calculates everything needed for lens manufacturing. This app is impressive not only in its accuracy, but in the “wow” factor it offers to patients. VSP Optics Group’s otto™ also offers advanced measuring capabilities and frame styling.

Multifunctional: The Smart Mirror app from A.B.S. Inc. covers all the major areas: eyewear selection, lenses and treatments, and measurements, and allows patients that all-important photo or video for uploading onto their Facebook page for friend and family opinions. The app also educates patients about important topics such as refractive vision disorders, photochromic lenses, digital surfacing, and polarization.

Patient Communications: An unexpected use of tablet technology is providing patients direct communications to your office. A majority of our patients now contact us via FaceTime and/or Skype to show us damaged frames in order to ascertain if they are repairable or not. Not only does this save them time, but allows for efficient use of our staff time as well.

We proudly wear the “geek” badge. From where we sit (on the other side of the tablet), apps are a viable accessory to growing your practice. We have seen patients order multiple pairs of spectacles because of the instant feedback of spouses regarding the frames selected and presented over video conferencing. We have enhanced our sales of PAL and lens options because of improved patient understanding of the differences in the final product. And we have seen heightened patient satisfaction in the purchase, as well as reduced resistance to added costs thanks to a greater understanding of the advantages of the features selected.

Tablets are not just toys to play games and watch movies on; they are powerful tools that can enhance patient understanding, increase office efficiencies, and improve communication. As the saying goes, “There’s an app for that.” And if you’re not using one (or two or three…or more), you’re missing the boat.

Kenneth W. Eakland is a professor at Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, OR. Linna So is an Optical Manager at Pacific University College.

A.B.S. Inc.
Carl Zeiss Vision Inc.
HOYA Vision Care, North America
ProDesign Face It
Silhouette iMirror
Vision-Ease Lens
VSP Optics Group

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