As you look forward to beginning a new year, you're probably curious to know the direction of eyecare, healthcare, and optometry. It's a good idea to plan your optometry practice goals for the new year in alignment with developments in technology, optical trends, and patient preferences.
That's why we've done a bit of research to alert you to things you should keep on your radar in the coming year. We do encourage that you stay up to date on big business moves, insurance news, regulations, and other timely matters by following industry news and subscribing to VisionWeb's blog.
Read on to see what competitors are emerging and technology advancements that could make your job easier.
Digest of 2019 Eyecare Developments
Following acquisitions in the healthcare space, Amazon is developing software that mines electronic health record data to make connections between anonymous patient symptoms, demographics, and diagnoses to help doctors. This part of Amazon Web Services could complement your existing EHR platform and make your job easier, but it will take awhile to develop and work out the kinks.
Of course, they'll also link to Amazon products such as contact lenses and prescription drugs that could be promoted by the doctors. Amazon's products could become a big competitor for independent eyecare practices when it comes to product sales, but they are no replacement for patient care. Most patients, especially those with diseases or aging eyes, need to have conversations and be reassured by the their doctor. Optometrists deliver sound medical advice and peace of mind. It's much harder to complain about inaccurate diagnoses or insufficient medicine over email or automated chat.
Go Visibly procured $9 million in funding with Google, Microsoft, and IBM Watson technology to support its mobile-only, voice guided vision tests. Although it already offered digital refractions and visual acuity tests for eyecare professionals to conduct on their website, it's now taking over the prescription space with its newest venture.
Although this could disrupt the eyecare provider's patient base, it's useful for ECPs to research the drawbacks and benefits of mobile vision tests so that they can respond to patients who might mention it during exams. Like we mentioned earlier, most patients require genuine conversation with their doctors to ease their concerns, answer even the smallest questions, and establish trust. They don't receive these with online tests and it's more difficult to be refunded for incorrect prescriptions or test results online than at a brick and mortar optical practice.
A range of contact lens subscriptions have popped up online over the past few years. If you aren't familiar with places like Hubble, Sightbox, and Waldo, they provide a up to a year's supply of contact lenses and even eye exams in some cases. Of course, these subscription services can disrupt contact lens sales within your practice, but creating cost comparisons for your patients can give you a competitive edge.
Hubble and Sightbox refer customers to optometrists in their area, which could lead to more patients for your practice too. If you want to get involved, check Sightbox's FAQ for eyecare professionals to learn more about how you can receive referrals and payments from them.
Although digital contact lenses began creating a buzz a few years ago, 2019 could be the year they finally come into fruition in the tech market. Google and Novartis are creating contact lenses that measure glucose levels and are manufactured using 3D printers. Researchers at University of Washington have also successfully created contact lenses with an LED display in them and hope to mature the display over the next few years.
This could mean people would be able to read emails or other content through their lenses in a Google Glass fashion. If successful and accessible in 2019, 3D digital lenses could be a useful product for busy professionals and students who visit eyecare practices.
Make sure your practice is fully efficient to accommodate for change. Read our ebook to find out how you can prepare.