Thomas Wong, OD, FNAP, is an Associate Clinical Professor at the SUNY College of Optometry serving as both the Director of Clinical Externships and New Technologies focused on innovative ophthalmic technologies improving patient outcomes, ocular disease, contact lenses, bioethics, clinical research, and medical informatics.
Dr. Hungate is CEO and founder of Simplifeye. firstname.lastname@example.org
New systems, digital front desks, and analytics help ODs reinvent practice management plans
This Technology department is a running series which has discussed clinical applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and ethical consequences to doctor-patient relationships. However, we have not discussed its potential in the successful return to modern optometric practice.
The COVID-19 virus has exposed many weaknesses in our society,1 including the delivery of optometric care. Those embracing the patient-driven healthcare movement are looking for digital tools in their eyecare experience—24/7 access to information, chat functions, dashboards, promotion across social media platforms, and information exchange. AI-driven algorithms are integral to these functions,2 including compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy regulations.
So, how do modern optometric practices utilize lead conversion systems, digital front desks, surveys, and analytics to reinvent practice management plans? Can inter-professional models of health care strengthen our optometric practices and improve outcomes for diverse communities? Do we strengthen collaborative relationships with dentistry, nursing, medicine, podiatry, and others?
Always do your homework, and let’s examine this process.
Return to practice
How can ODs grow patient bases during a pandemic? For starters, rethink their online presence.3 Utilizing technology to modernize offices and limiting contact time will make patients feel safe. Consider also how ODs can utilize inter-professional relationships with other clinicians (dentists, nurses, physicians, podiatrists, etc.) to build patient bases and fill schedules.
How does an optometric office get started in telemedicine and build a telehealth platform? If telemedicine is new for ODs, how do they bill and collect fees for services? The COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater need for a more interactive patient experience.4 Electronic enrollment of patients, documentation of medical records, verification of medical and vision insurance plans, and signing agreements or consents should be collected prior to a patient’s visit to improve patient experiences. Furthermore, the use of chat rooms and interactive websites are functions that patients are looking for in modern healthcare. Let’s further examine a few of these features.
Optometric practice management (PM) systems have typically been tied to our electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Common examples are Eyecare Advantage by Compulink, RevolutionEHR, ManagementPlus, MaximEyes by First Insight, Eyefinity Practice Management, and Practice Director by the Williams Group.
These PM systems have been designed to schedule appointments, manage payments, then integrate with medical coding and Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) registries. As optometric PM systems evolve, are they able to manage our COVID-19 practice restarts by making patient experiences contactless and safe for patients, doctors, and staff? Do they utilize digital tools allowing patients 24/7 interactive access to information? Let’s examine. An automated, frictionless (hard copy-free) PM system, Simplifeye, was created by a dentist for dental practices and is now growing in optometric practices.5
Simplifeye has developed what it markets as the first-ever “virtual practice in a box” platform in the healthcare market. Simplifeye allows a practice to implement 24/7 live chat to capture prospective patients on their websites. With consent obtained digitally, the practice can collect billing information ahead of the telehealth appointment. Simplifeye also provides a digital telehealth platform that practices can bill for.
Simplifeye aims to deliver new patients to the practice and support the essential work that happens at the front desk. Some 56 percent of users are frustrated with waiting on hold and the inconvenience of scheduling appointments by phone, but 31 percent of users would be more likely to choose a new service provider if that provider offered online booking options.6
Connecting with patients
ODs have less than 8 seconds to impress website visitors. After 8 seconds, most visitors leave.7 When practices implement Simplifyeye, chatters will engage the patient within 7 seconds or less to convert them to scheduled appointments when other offices are closed.
If the patient wants to be seen for a telehealth appointment, he can digitally consent specifically to be seen by telehealth with the click of a button.
Live chat functions
I recommend bundling 24/7 live chat with scheduling, telehealth, and payments so that systems are seamlessly connected. Practices that have a marketing budget should consider these services as a necessary complement to their marketing efforts, given the goal is to convert patients who are directed to the website into scheduled patient visits.
Eye care is essential to the functioning of modern society.8 Patient-driven health care is making it important for optometric practices to offer interactive digital tools for patients. Technology continues to improve ODs’ ability to diagnose and manage ocular conditions, doctor-patient communications, and ultimately patient outcomes.9 Optometric offices should consider incorporating intelligent PM systems to make patients happy.
1. Halvorson G. We Need to Fix COVID-Damaged Care Sites and Give the Country Better Care and Universal Coverage in the Process. Health Care Blog. Available at: https://thehealthcareblog. com/blog/2020/05/09/we-need-to-fix-covid-damaged-care-sites-and-give-the-country-better-care-and-universal-coverage-in-the-process/. Accessed: 9/9/2020.
2. Coleman FA. Human Algorithm How Artificial Intelligence is Redefining Who We Are. Berkeley, CA. Counterpoint, 2019. Print.
3. Singh M. How to Generate More Patients for Your Optometric Practice. VisionWeb. Available at: htttps://blog.visionweb.com/ more-patients-for-your-optometric-practice. Accessed 9/9/2020.
4. American Optometric Association. Guide to telehealth based care during COVID-19. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/coronavirus/ aoa-guide-to-telehealth-based-care-during-covid-19. Accessed 9/9/2020.
5. Simplify your practice. Simplifeye. Available at: https://simplifeye. co. Accessed: 9/9/2020.
6. Practice Builders. Is your dental website converting visitors into patients? Available at: https://www.practicebuilders.com/blog/ is-your-dental-website-converting-visitors-into-patients/. Accessed 9/30/20.
7. Blaszkiewicz S. Online booking options can get you more clients. GetApp.com. Available at: https://www.getapp.com/resources/ research-online-booking-importance-of-appointment-scheduling/. Accessed 9/30/20.
8. Simcox S. Eye care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Optom Management. Available at: https://www.optometricmanagement. com/issues/2020/may-2020/eye-care-during-the-covid-19- pandemic. Accessed 9/9/2020.
9. Ha JF, Longnecker N. Doctor-patient communication: a review. Ochsner J. 2010 Spring;10(1):38-43.