Increased online disruption
Online disruption as well as increased competition from online retailers continues to be a major player in 2017.
But our experts think there are two types of online disruption—some positive, some negative.
“There has been a tremendous effort from private equity venture capitalists (EVC) to enter the market and get in on these new technologies,” says Dr. Rogoff. “The interest from these EVCs is the convenience and cost to do big business.”
As technology continues to evolve, Dr. Rogoff says the volume of product these companies are able to move will affect how your patients purchase—and obtain—their contact lenses and glasses.
“With more of these companies entering the marketplace, and the fast pace with which they are able to push product, patients may begin to do more online rather than in your offices,” says Dr. Rogoff.
Dr. Spear says the answer to facing the online disruption may start from within.
“Outside forces are filling a space and patient need that we are not delivering,” says Dr. Spear. “The need exists, and we must look inwardly at ourselves to see how this is happening.
“The business of optometry is robust,” says Dr. Spear. “This along with aging baby boomers and the overall number of people needing eye care in the U.S. make it a highly profitable business.”
Couple this with the fact that the practice of selling and fitting contact lenses online is not heavily regulated—Dr. Rogoff thinks this may be a recipe for disaster in patient complications.
But there is a good form of online disruption that may benefit ODs in the coming year, says Dr. Rogoff.
“Insurers have been working to try to lower the cost of health care and ‘triaging’ different forms of health care,” says Dr. Rogoff. “This would be beneficial to patients and ODs along with assuring proper handling and care of Class II medical devices—contact lenses.”
As more people try online services, ODs are seeing mixed reviews. Numerous patients have voiced their dissatisfaction with the results of these online screenings, and some are returning to their ODs for traditional eye exams.
“The AOA has been receiving patient complaints, both from members and patients, regarding online and app-based refractive technologies and is compiling and sharing this information as appropriate with state and federal officials,” says Dr. Rogoff. “ODs should continue to share these instances of patient harm with the AOA so we can better identify and communicate the risks of these online and app-based businesses.”