According to Juniper Research, there were 44 million medical app downloads in 2012. This is expected to rise to 142 million by 2016. 80 percent of physicians are now using mobile technology to provide patient care. In spite of these trends, studies have shown that only a small percentage of doctors and health care systems are actively recommending health care apps to their patients.
Most people have their mobile phones on them at all times. 25% of Americans now access the Internet only via mobile device. Mobile allows you to stay connected with your patients anywhere, anytime. Here are some top ways you can engage patients with mobile apps:
- Schedule appointments
- Send appointment reminders
- Medication, contact lens replacement and vitamin re-order reminders
- Bi-directional communication
- Remote patient monitoring
- Social media connectivity
- Marketing / promotions
The EyeXam mobile application is the first app in eye care addressing all the features listed above for patient engagement. Through its partnership with Eyefinity, EyeXam has over 28,000 eyecare professionals listed in a GPS-based directory. With over 1 million consumer downloads, the EyeXam is a powerful tool to stay connected with a patient base that is increasingly moving to mobile. Read more »
I like hard data, mostly because somebody other than me did the monotonous research, and it takes the guesswork out of a lot of things. Wildfire (owned by Google) recently released a report outlining seven strategies for getting maximum value from your social media posts. A few may seem like common sense, and a few may surprise you.
- Tap into fans passions with photos or video media. On Facebook, posts including a photo album, a picture or a video generate about 180%, 120%, and 100% more engagement than the average text post, respectively.
- Ask questions. Question posts generate about 90% more engagement than the average text post. While open ended questions require fans to consider and write out their answers, make it quick and easy by asking closed questions. Ie. Did you know that sunglasses can protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration?
- Tell users what you want from them. Ending a post with an instruction to “Like” or “+1” this post usually results in a higher number of those actions. Wildfire discovered posts on their own fan page had 4 times as many likes when the phrase “LIKE if you’re as thrilled as we are” was included.
- Treat your fans like they’re VIPs. According to the research firm Razorfish, the #1 reason fans “Like” or “Follow” a brand on social networks is to get access to exclusive content, promotions and deals. Offer your patients privileged content (discounts, contests, etc.) that’s offered exclusively to your fans and followers.
- Invite one-on-one interactions. Give your comments a personal touch by responding to them personally. Make your fans feel heard and appreciated addressing them by name whenever possible, and respond to their comments one-on-one.
- Take your relationship to the next level. Actively invite personal conversations by soliciting their opinions on relevant topics. Wildfire found that their most engaging posts are consistently the ones that invite people to post any question about social media – which is always answered. Without violating privacy issues, would your patients like the ability to get answers from you about general eye issues?
- Humanize your brand. For some reason, people get excited about behind-the-scenes access. Post VIP content, such as a video of you performing a clinical procedure or a pic of the staff dressed up for Halloween. Give your practice a personality.
Reviewing this list, most of these posts are designed to connect on an emotional level, provide value, and operate as an extension of the outstanding customer service they received in your office. Have you found similar results with your posts?
About: Steve Vargo, O.D., M.B.A. frequently writes and lectures on using technology and digital media for marketing eye care practices. He also practices optometry in St. John, In., where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.
Looking for a more effective way to evaluate vision care plans, staff, products and professional productivity? The EDGE™ is a consultative tool that provides easy access to your profit centers through a web-based system. Last week I spoke with Jay Binkowitz, president of GPN™ (exclusive provider of The EDGE™), who provided some insight into how The EDGE™ can, well…give you an “edge”.
New Media OD: You describe The EDGE™ as a “Performance Management Philosophy”. Can you elaborate on that?
Jay: Yes. The EDGE™ is not a reporting system providing static reports and excel spreadsheets. It is a well thought out philosophy on what you should be tracking and what the information means. It takes you through a proven management routine with a series of graphs, charts and easy to understand information. But more importantly it provides you and your team the business resources to know what to do about. I call that the “then what”.
New Media OD: Could you provide a quick overview of how the Edge works?
Jay: We seamlessly sync up with many of the industry practice management systems and upload the information from their system to our web based system The EDGE™. It takes place at night and does not have any negative effect on their program or resources.
New Media OD: Do you think too many ODs spend time on unproductive, low-value activities, and how does The EDGE™. help re-direct their efforts? Read more »
Looking for ways to stay connected with your patients between visits, while making the in-office experience more interactive? Mobile is the most dynamic and ubiquitous communications channel available today, and easily integrates into existing traditional marketing channels. Check out Seeing is Believing – optometry’s first virtual conference dedicated to teaching practitioners about online tools, techniques and technology. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the topics I’ll be discussing as part of my presentation – Mobile Marketing and Communication – Go Where the Eyes Are!
We love text messaging! Everywhere we go we see people feverishly tapping away on their mobile devices. What was once just for personal use is slowly finding a place in our practices, mostly for things like appointment reminders and alerts (ie. “your glasses are ready for pick-up”). But what about SMS as a marketing tool? SMS marketing is permission-based, meaning patients must opt-in to receive your messages. As opposed to mass marketing like e-blasts or direct mail, permission-based marketing creates opportunities to define a niche market and design marketing campaigns specific to that group. Got a dry eye specialty? Vision therapy? Sports vision? Looking for ways to build awareness and attract new patients? I’ll discuss a few ways to get people interested in joining your “mobile club”.
QR codes are basically a link that connects to digital content when scanned with a smartphone. They are a fun and interactive way to direct people to your website, Facebook page or even Youtube videos. They are also a great way to drive sales by making your optical more educational. For ex. “scan the image to see how sunglasses protect the eyes from harmful UV radiation”. I’ll provide a list of free informational vids you can use in your optical. Read more »
EyeXam is currently the #1 app on the App store when searching for “eye exam” or “eye doctor”.
From a consumer standpoint, consumers can download the free app to conveniently communicate with VSP offices. The most popular and highly-rated features of the app include appointment scheduling anytime-anywhere, instant messaging offices to ask questions, place optical and contact lens replacement orders, set personalized reminders, view on-going promotions for eye-related products and receive notifications from VSP offices regarding upcoming promotions, sales and trunk shows.
From a practitioners’ standpoint, the EyeXam Dashboard will connect the eyecare provider’s office with new and existing patients by providing valuable information about perspective patients who are in the area looking for eyecare providers and have looked at the practitioner’s profile. This enhanced marketing tool is crucial in the eyecare providers ability to expand their practice. Offices who subscribe to the mobile platform can promote sales at their offices, send reminders to their patients and communicate with their patients via EyeXam without bombarding their email and text message inboxes. VSP providers are already listed in the mobile app and can take advantage of the app’s great features by upgrading their profile for a low monthly subscription fee.
More information about EyeXam can be found at: http://www.eyexam.com
QR codes are still a bit of an enigma for many people. If you’re one of those people, you might think that most people share the same indifference toward these funny looking bar codes. However, you might be surprised to hear that more than 50% of smartphone owners have scanned a QR code (ComScore), and they have grown by 120% from this time last year (NeoMedia).
Any smartphone equipped with a camera and a QR reader can scan a QR code, which serves as a link connecting you with digital or web content. This technology allows you to interact with your patients and customers on a higher level. Patients can scan these codes to learn about your products or services in a more interactive way. Consider placing these in your optical or dispensary inviting patients to scan the code to see a video on the benefits of polarized lenses, progressives, etc. Although we train our opticians to discuss these benefits, people tend to have a stronger emotional reaction to visual imagery. If patients can “see” the value, they may be pre-sold before even sitting down with the optician.
Showrooming is when a customer enters a brick and morter store to touch and feel the product and then goes online or to a big-box competitor to purchase at a lower price. While this is most common with electronics and retail clothing, I think its nonetheless worthy of our attention as online frame vendors become increasingly prevelant. Research has shown that the longer you can keep customers in your business and engaged in the products you sell, the greater the chance you will keep the sale in-house. Click HERE to see a quick video on QR codes and the showrooming effect.
Make it Easy!
A few suggestions on QR codes: If room permits, provide brief instructions for your tech-averse patients (ie. visit scan.mobi on your smartphone and download the QR reader). Also, let them know what will happen when they scan the code. Don’t simply assume they will scan it just because you placed it there. Lastly, consider that people who scan QR codes are on their mobile phone. Don’t send them to your desktop website. People on-the-go have short attention spans and want quick info, a full website does not render well on a 3 inch screen. Now if you have a “mobile website” – that’s a different story!
Turn Scans into Revenue
It should also be noted that a third of people who scan a QR code have a household income over $100K, so these might serve to attract consumers of a higher income level with greater spending power.
If you’re looking for ways to make your optical more interactive, click HERE to access a list of QR codes that link to educational videos. Take as many as you like – they’re free! (author’s note: I do have permission from the various companies to use / distribute these videos for patient education purposes)
About Steve: Steve Vargo, O.D., M.B.A. is in private practice in St. John, Indiana where he lives with his wife and 2 sons. He also founded iMobile Communications, and frequently writes and lectures about using technology for marketing and communication.
Guest blogger: Chad Fleming, OD, FAAO…
There is a need among optometrists to be highly organized and technology affords you the ability to do this. Due to the demands of practice efficiency this is a must in being successful. Interestingly enough, I have met many ODs that are not organized and I wonder how they do it. They attempt to utilize sticky notes or scrap paper. Or they have a “technology” of using a word document to put their thoughts into. I’ve also heard ODs that bookmark everything in their browser but then are unable to locate what they bookmarked because it is difficult to search bookmarks for content. They attempt to juggle all the balls in their mind and then frustrate others by forgetting the little things. They can’t find that piece of paper or bookmark that had information on it. Unfortunately, the information is needed for the meeting that started 15 minutes ago. For some it works, others, utter chaos!
Technology has changed this old way of project and task management. The best organizational program available, in my opinion, is called Evernote. This piece of software allows you to be organized from any computer or phone and it all syncs together simultaneously. I currently use 3 main technology devices (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air) and Evernote allows me to access data from any of them. One key feature that I enjoy with Evernote is the ability to easily clip any web page and send it directly to Evernote for reference later. Evernote will also efficiently search all notes and content within the notes. I would not be capable of going completely paperless in optometry and in life if not for Evernote. There are many other great features of this software. The greatest thing is that it is free.
So where does this fit into transitioning an optometry practice. It fits into the demand for you to be highly organized and efficient. Having all your notes, quotes, recommendations, numbers, etc., all at your fingertips gives you a competitive advantage among your peers and give you the information you need when you need it to make good practice management decisions. It also helps de-clutter that mind of yours.
About Chad: Chad Fleming, OD, FAAO is an owner of a 4 doctor practice in Wichita, KS where he lives with his wife and 2 boys. Dr. Fleming is also the Business & Career Consultant for AOA Excel. He coaches doctors in becoming associates, transitioning to partners and selling optometry practices. He is also founder/ceo of OptomteryCEO, LLC.
Guest blogger.. Jason Compton, O.D.
For decades, contact lens professionals have used journals to obtain contact lens information. While this was an adequate tool in the past, this search method is quickly turning obsolete. Traditional print sources are just unable to assist practitioners with the thousands of contact lenses currently on the market. It is becoming increasingly difficult to sift through all the excess to find the right product for one’s patient.
Times are changing and analysis shows that more and more people are turning to computers and mobile devices to find the information they need. Has the contact lens market kept up with these changes? Simply answered… No. In order for doctors to learn about the various contact lens designs, and better understand their differences, there needs to be an easily accessible centralized location where one can review these lens specifications. This location should be updated in real-time, offer new ways of analyzing contact lens products, host an online community and provide an overall next level resource for practitioners. This is where TheRightContact.com comes in – a website designed to do just that, and much more. Read more »