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Kaia Pankhurst

Bringing Your Practice Into the Future by Transforming to a Digital Practice

The world is online and you have to keep up. As long as are willing to embrace the direction eyecare is moving, you’ll be able to safeguard your practice for years to come.

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EVERYONE IS TIRED of talking about the influence COVID-19 has had on the eyecare industry. Still, the fact remains that practicing eyecare is different now. Patients have discovered that many of their day-to-day chores and errands can be accomplished without ever leaving the house.

At-home service is, in many ways, the new standard. Of course, elements of eyecare will likely always take place in-person. But in the midst of such massive cultural change, there are a few things independent practices can do to keep up with their patients’ shifting demands.

Get Into E-commerce

Patients are increasingly buying their glasses online. This isn’t news. And of course, any ECP would prefer patients buy glasses in-person; the one-to-one interaction allows you to provide a higher standard of service, offer expert advice and ensure their glasses fit correctly.

But, as they say, if you can’t beat them, join them.

An online store allows you to give patients the opportunity to buy frames from home, which many prefer.

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Even if you don’t want to sell frames online, there are plenty of other products that perform well on e-commerce. Contact lenses, eye hygiene products, OTC drops and gels, eye compresses, eye-safe cosmetics, lens cleaning kits, and a wide range of other products are a great place to start. In fact we have seen practices use e-commerce and subscription technology to not only take back business that would have gone online but improve schedule compliance and product retention.

Offer Telehealth Services

While you can’t examine a patient’s retina through a zoom call, you most likely can evaluate redness, swelling, discharge, and other symptoms of minor infections and injuries. Teleoptometry is also an excellent triage opportunity. A few minutes on a video call may be enough to determine whether a patient should come in or visit the emergency room.

Build Your Online Presence

The more your business operates online, the more important online presence becomes. While your regular patients know you adhere to a high standard of service, one or two-time visitors may not — they may be more reluctant to trust you through a digital platform at first.

It’s also important to build an online presence because when it comes to the internet, out of sight is out of mind. Your patients won’t think of you as an online provider if they never see you online.

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Luckily, both of these issues are relatively easy to remedy. You just need to put your practice out there. First, make sure your website is modern and functional. Ideally, you should also start putting out content­—videos, social media posts, blogs.

Finally, make sure you’re looking at and responding to online reviews. Consumers look at Google reviews, Yelp, and other similar sites when considering services in person and online. And yes, take the time to respond to negative reviews, but don’t violate HIPAA with your response.

The world is online; you have to keep up. Big box eyecare has been playing with e-commerce and digital appointments for a while now. This brave new world gives independent practices an opportunity to keep up and maybe even surpass them.

Kaia Pankhurst is a Senior Content Strategist at Marketing4ECPs (marketing4ecps.com) where she creates and implements content strategies for eyecare practices all over North America. Outside of the office, Kaia is a musician, activist, and professional wrestler. Email her at [email protected]

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