Faced with the sluggish economy, a changing regulatory climate, shifting patient expectations and new forms of competition, today’s optometrists are getting more creative in their approach to both clinical and business matters. Whether it’s improving their diagnostic skills, implementing new technologies in the exam room or office, employing the latest management techniques or raising the level of patient care, forward-thinking ODs are pushing ahead with fresh ideas. They are the focus of our second annual Optometric Business Innovators report, a special collaborative project between Vision Monday and Review of Optometric Business. Each month for the rest of the year, ROB will profile the honorees in various categories–business management, optical dispensing, digital media, marketing, the patient experience, influencers and contact lenses. This month: doctors recognized for innovation in digital media.
Lake Zurich EyeCare
Lake Zurich, Illinois
“We continue to grow because we are willing to seek out new ways to attract, educate and retain patients.”
With 10 optometric practices within a three mile radius of the Lake Zurich EyeCare office, it was important to figure out a way to stand out. “I was able to set Lake Zurich Eye-Care and other practices apart from the competition by introducing the EyeDocApp,” said Scott D. Pouyat, OD.
The EyeDocApp ( www.eyedocapp.com), which Pouyat developed, is a customizable mobile application designed for optometrists and used by their patients. “The ability to have a smartphone app for my practice has helped me retain, educate and attract new patients,” he stated. “EyeDocApp integrates with Facebook, Twitter and e-mail allowing patients to spread the word about our practice, technology, services and staff without us having to do anything.”
The app, which can be downloaded via a QR code on all of the office’s communications, also allows patients to request appointments, order contact lenses, get directions and access an eye Wikipedia, as well as view videos, promotions and news articles. The EyeDocApp now also offers PUSH Technology so patients can receive instant messages about new promotions.
“Our practice is only seven years old and we have been growing consistently ever year,” Pouyat added. “EyeDocApp has helped us shorten the time between patient visits and increase per patient revenue.”
Barton Creek Eyecare
Brazos Valley Eyecare
College Station, Texas
“We believe that complacency is the enemy of success.”
We are as diligent in our digital media approach as we are with patient care, always seeking out new ideas and constantly striving to deliver the best experience possible,” said Robert Soltys, OD. “Despite the recent lulls in the economy, we have been fortunate enough to maintain a steady increase in patient growth. Having primarily achieved this growth due to our digital marketing plan, we felt it best to concentrate more of our budget into our digital approach.”
Digital media has been a huge help in marketing the six year-old practice. “Digital media is an amazing form of communication which allows you to interact with your target audience on a social level to create a personal relationship which traditional media doesn’t do,” he added. “In this day and age patients, especially those in large metropolitan areas, expect the latest technology.”
Though he admits that getting his staff to embrace the new ideas and technology his patients expect can be a challenge. “Often because they assume it will increase their own work load,” Soltys explained. “Therefore, it is crucial to train your staff on how to properly utilize the technology and educate them on how these new ideas and programs will actually increase the efficiency of your office and create a better patient experience.”
Soltys does this by keeping his staff updated weekly on the practice’s digital media plans and what he hopes to achieve with them. “The staff is always full of great questions and feedback that often causes us to alter our approach. We also get them involved when creating reward systems for compliance and recognize them for outstanding customer service.
“We find the more you allow your staff to get involved in developing your approach the more likely they are to follow through with it,” he concluded.
Donald W. Boyd, Optometry
“Our commitment is not just in meeting [patients’] expectations, but in exceeding them.”
“We believe Dr. Boyd is a key influencer to his optometric colleagues because he has embraced the online space in a way that supports his patients and his private practice,” said his nominator. “He’s helped beta test and then launch his practice’s very own eStore, which is an online extension of his practice’s brick-and -mortar dispensary.
“He’s helping demonstrate that private practice can compete online and offer this innovative option to let his patients shop online whenever they want to for contact lenses, prescription eyewear and sunwear that can be delivered right to the patient’s front door. He’s helping lead the way and showing by example how optometric practices can be successful in this emerging and fast growing space.”
Editor’s Note: Donald W. Boyd, OD, was unable to participate more fully in his profile at press time as he was out of the office for health reasons. He hopes to return to his office in the next few weeks.