Have you ever sent an email through Gmail, video chatted on Skype, or listened to music on Spotify? If you have, you have already used cloud based technology. So, you’ve used the cloud in your personal life and are familiar with it, but what exactly is cloud computing and how can it help your business?
Cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data and programs through the Internet. Services in the cloud are managed by a provider and your data is stored on an external network of servers. The information you store is available through a reliable Internet connection. There is no longer a need to invest in computer hardware with heavy upfront costs. With cloud applications, all you’re required to do is load the application once, log in, and start using it. And best of all, most cloud services have a subscription pricing model, so you only pay for what you use!
So using cloud based applications is easy, but why should your practice adopt the cloud?
3 Advantages of Cloud Computing to Improve Your Practice
1. Saves You Time and Money
Running applications through an onsite server at your own office, rather than in the cloud, can rack up huge expenses. In addition to paying high upfront costs for software, you also have to pay for a client based server system to support it. Although this will enable your practice to store large amounts of data, it’s not cheap. Moving your day-to-day business functions, including your practice management system and electronic health records to the cloud has the potential to save you big bucks!
Most cloud services use a pay as you use price model or charge a monthly subscription fee. This means that you won't be paying for space that you don’t use. Even though some monthly subscription fees may seem high, if you take into account all your expenses, it is cheaper in the long run. With a monthly subscription, you are also cutting out ongoing maintenance and upgrade expenses. By using the cloud, maintenance is performed and your system is upgraded automatically by the Vendor. This not only saves you money on hiring experts to maintain your system, but also means you won’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to maintain these updates.
Having in-house servers requires your practice to have extensive IT knowledge. A team of experts will need to be hired (yet, creating another expense) to install, test, and secure these applications. However, if you choose to use cloud services, they require minimal set up and are updated automatically. Another advantage of cloud based technology is that it is easy to integrate with software that you may already be using.
2. Gives You Unlimited Storage Capacity and Convenience
With the cloud, your storage space is unlimited. Filing cabinets can be a thing of the past and you will free up space in your practice. And remember, even though you have unlimited space, you’ll still only be paying for what you use.
Not only will you be able to store as much information as you’d like, the cloud also has a big convenience factor. The information you store on the cloud can be accessed through a variety of devices. Computers, smartphones, and tablets all allow you to access your information from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. If your staff is granted access to the information, it is easy to collaborate. Since data in the cloud is updated in real time, employees can see all the latest changes, view documents that are still in progress, and collaborate on projects together all at the same time!
3. Provides You with a Reliable and Secure Network
Data loss can happen for a variety of reasons and many of them are out of your control. You can have hard drive failure, theft, fire, or simply spill coffee on your laptop. Since these accidents can happen at any time, you are required to conduct constant physical backups. However, with the cloud, your files will be safe. Files in the cloud are constantly being saved and backed up online. Information that you may have otherwise lost is usually able to be recovered by cloud service providers.
A common concern with the cloud is that your information is not secure. However, in terms of backup redundancy, fire prevention, disaster recovery, and physical security, using the cloud is more secure than what you’d most likely be able to implement yourself. The government mandates regulations to ensure that data stored in the cloud is protected. Also, the top providers have written guarantees with serious penalties if your data is compromised.
Cloud providers will make sure your data is kept secure, but it is your job to keep access to cloud data in the right hands. Local and cloud applications both use similar technology for user authentication. Remember to always log out of your accounts and use strong, hard to guess passwords.
The future in cloud computing is a bright one. 71% of technology experts and stakeholders agree that by 2020 most people will work with internet based applications. And 2/3rds of global organizations are planning to adopt cloud technology in the near future. So why are you still wasting time and money running applications in your own office, when the cloud has so many advantages for your practice?
Want to learn more about cloud computing and what it can do for your practice? Download our Rising Up to the Cloud in Optical Practices e-book today!
Times are changing and technology is on the rise. With all the new technology on the market there can be a lot of information to absorb. And lately, there has been a lot of talk about cloud computing in optical and how the cloud can benefit eyecare practices. One of the ways the cloud can be used is in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS). Software as a Service refers to a software distribution model where data and software are hosted by a vendor and are accessible to customers over the Internet.
In this infographic we broke down the differences between the traditional client server approach to eyecare practice management and compared it with a cloud practice management system. Decide for yourself who wins this technology showdown.
Want to know more about cloud computing in eyecare? One of our favorite optometry eBooks will further explain the benefits of using cloud solutions.
We love keeping up to date with the latest technology trends. That’s why we’ve been all about cloud computing lately! But more than just a fad, we know that it’s here to stay. We thought that it’d be important for eye care providers like you to be more familiar with the concept as we explore how we can implement cloud computing services in our industry through routine day-to-day tasks and even opticial software.
So far, we’ve written an infographic and eBook about cloud computing, and we thought that it’d be fun to put your knowledge to the test!
As presented by the staff here at VisionWeb, take our quiz below to find out how much you know about the cloud!
Did you ace the quiz? If you did, great job! Looks like you’re already a cloud expert and you're ready to rise up to the next level. Download our eBook to explore the uses of cloud computing in eyecare and see how your practice can benefit from it.
If you didn't do as well as you wanted to, don’t worry! There is a lot of confusion surrounding the cloud. The eBook will also give you an introduction to cloud computing. After reading it, come back to see if your score has improved.
So, how did you do? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
There's plenty of hype about cloud computing these days, but it's not exactly a new concept. We thought that it would be interesting to explore how cloud computing can be used in new and different ways, especially as a practice management solution for eye care practices.
We asked our friends at VitalHealth, a leader in cloud-based EHR software designed with Mayo Clinic, to give their insight on cloud computing.
Cloud Computing as an Eyecare Practice Management Software Solution
Some of our readers may be wondering if the time has arrived to replace their current clinical and practice management software with a more modern solution. There can be any number of reasons for taking that step. Perhaps you’d like to benefit from Meaningful Use reimbursements, and you’re looking for certified EHR technology. Or perhaps your eyecare practice management software simply can’t keep up with your desire to embrace mobile technologies. Whatever your reason may be, perhaps you’re wondering if “cloud computing” should be one of these reasons?
In this blog post we’ll try to explain what cloud computing is, and why you should seriously consider going that route. We’ll also try to alleviate some of the concerns you may have, if any. So let’s get started.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing means running some of your IT infrastructure (applications and or data) in a location other than your own physical office. You access this infrastructure remotely via the Internet, but you don’t necessarily know exactly where your applications or data are residing physically. Their location is “fuzzy, indefinite, non-localized”, as if it is inside a “cloud”.
Most of us probably already use some form of cloud computing, even though you may not realize it. For instance, if you access Google’s email service via a browser, you are using a “cloud email” solution. Perhaps you sync your email down to a local device such as your mobile phone. In that case your email application is ‘local’, but your email data is in the cloud.
Some of you may already be more advanced cloud users than you realize. Have you ever used Google Docs, or Microsoft’s Office 365? In that case you are a full-fledged cloud user already! You simply use a browser to run e.g. a word processor or spreadsheet application in the cloud, with no local installations of these applications on your computer required. You don’t know where the applications or your data physically reside. They’re somewhere…in the cloud.
What About Security?
The biggest concern typically voiced by cloud-skeptics is “security”. In reality, security of cloud-based applications usually far exceeds that of local infrastructures. Cloud vendors invest heavily in making sure that applications and data are protected from unauthorized access in the form of hackers, as well as physical access to the servers. They have implemented backup and disaster procedures that exceed anything you can afford to implement in a local infrastructure. While the idea of leaving your sensitive data in the hands of an outside vendor may be unsettling, the reality is that these vendors are extremely qualified to address your security concerns.
What About Cost?
Fair question. Typical monthly fees for cloud solutions may seem high at face value. But if you actually went through the exercise of spreading out local infrastructure costs over its lifespan, you would be surprised to find that cloud computing beats a local infrastructure hands-down. Besides that, a monthly subscription fee is much more predictable in terms of cash flow, compared to the typical high upfront costs and spikes in maintenance costs of a local infrastructure.
What Infrastructure Do You Need Locally?
For most cloud applications, you only need Internet access and wired or wireless devices that run any of the major browsers, like Google Chrome, FireFox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. Your bandwidth requirements will depend on your practice size, as well as the cloud applications you are trying to access. For most scenarios, a connection with about 1 Mbps of bandwidth per user is more than sufficient. Pair that with a small business router of a few hundred dollars to protect your network from external intruders, and you are all set.
Join The Cloud!
If we had to summarize the benefits of Cloud Computing in one short phrase, it would be ‘economies of scale’. By sharing an IT infrastructure, all subscribers share in the predictable costs of using a highly secure and reliable environment. What’s not to like? Time to join the migration to the cloud!
Want to learn more about using the cloud in your practice? Download our eBook, Rise Up to The Cloud: Cloud Computing in Eyecare.
Let’s Play a Game
I’m going to say a word or two, and I want you to think of the first word that comes to mind. Okay, ready?
-Easy. White. Fluffy. Looks like it’s made of cotton candy.
-Wait. Cloud what?
If you’re sitting here pondering what exactly cloud computing is or maybe even think that it is just a computer-shaped cloud, don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to a survey, 29% of people believe that "the cloud" has something to do with the weather.
With all the talk about the cloud nowadays, it’s hard to sort out exactly what it is, or does. Simply put, cloud computing is just storing and accessing data and programs through the Internet. Have you ever used Gmail or Dropbox? If yes, then you’ve already used a cloud-based service.
So, fear the ambiguous “cloud” no longer! We’ve compiled the best of the best to easily explain what all the hype is about and most importantly, how cloud computing will affect optical practices.
Rise Up to The Cloud: Cloud Computing in Eyecare
(Check out the preview and click the 'expand' button to view it in full screen)
What You'll Learn:
- Common Uses of Cloud Computing
- Benefits and General Concerns
- How it Will Affect Your Practice
- The Future of the Cloud
The next time someone brings up cloud computing, don’t shudder in fear. You’ll be a cloud expert –the envy of the office– with your newfound knowledge. So, rise up to the cloud and discover everything cloud computing has to offer you and your optical practice.
You don't want to miss out on one of our favorite optician eBooks!
We hear the term "Cloud Computing" thrown around a lot these days but do you know what it actually is? The increasing buzz but lack of knowledge about cloud computing prompted us to create our very own infographic to help you understand the concept of the cloud a little better. Cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular in the eyecare industry, especially with optician software.
Find out what the hype is all about and how it can be utilized in your eyecare practice!
(Images used are from Prezi)
Like our infographic? Don't forget to share it on Facebook!
Today, many of us can’t leave the house without making sure we have our smartphones in our pockets. Our lives are moving faster than ever before, and we are always on the go. At VisionWeb, we know how important mobility is these days. So, jump on the convenience-at-your-fingertips bandwagon with our new free mobile app!
The VisionWeb App has You Covered
The VisionWeb App gives you the best of both worlds. You can maintain that fast-paced lifestyle while keeping up to date with all of your product orders. Whether you are taking a trip or have just stepped out of the office, you can stay connected. The VisionWeb App connects and syncs your smartphone directly with VisionWeb.com so you can:
- Review your office’s pending orders
- Monitor the status of orders in process at the lab
- Access archived orders
- Navigate your orders easily with convenient search and filter options
You will have the ability to stay connected to your orders at all times. If you are out of the office and receive a question about an order or want to review an order from your staff before it goes to processing, all the information you need is at your fingertips. All it takes is a phone with service and a VisionWeb account.
If you are already a VisionWeb user, then all you have to do is login with your current username and password and all your orders will appear on your phone. However, if you don’t have an account, there’s a simple solution. Visit www.visionweb.com and register for free! From there, all you have to do is download the app, login from your phone, and you are good to go.
The app is available for both Apple and Android devices. Apple users can download it through iTunes, while Android users can get it through Google Play, but not the Android Market, which can be seen in older phone models.
Never be in the dark about your orders no matter where you are! Download the VisionWeb App now!
Vision Expo East is a little over a week away and we’ve been busy preparing for the show! Packing for a tradeshow can be a hassle, but the one essential we know that you’ll be bringing is your smartphone and/ or iPad. To help you through Vision Expo East and New York City, we’ve compiled 10 ‘must have’ apps to maximize your time and fun at the tradeshow.
Tips for ECPs: 10 Must Have Apps for Vision Expo East
Tradeshows can be overwhelming, with so many booths to visit and so little time! The worst part is losing precious time trying to find booths and getting lost in the crowd. With the Vision Expo app, you’ll be able to plan your schedule ahead of time, navigate the show floor with interactive maps, download course schedules, and even contact exhibitors for appointments.
Are you a serial to-do-list maker? If so, this app is for you. Asana gets team members on the same page by creating shared to-do lists, assigning tasks, and prioritizing items. You get to see changes in real time and all history and discussions are kept together, so you can see where things are and what’s happened.
You’re interested in a couple of big purchases at the tradeshow, so you grab a bunch of brochures and write important notes on it. But right when you are ready to review all your gathered information, you realize that you lost the brochure! Genius Scan scans documents of any kind into PDF files, so you can catalogue handwritten notes and refer to it later. But remember to scan them immediately!
If you plan to sell products at your booth, don’t even think of lugging a cash register and printer for printing receipts. Square is an extremely convenient way to accept mobile payments. Attach a small card reader to your iPhone or iPad and customers can swipe their credit or debit cards to complete the transaction. The app will then text a receipt to the buyer’s phone. Transactions are safe and convenient!
Vine is the latest craze in social media! It lets you capture and share 6 second looping videos and sounds. Capture videos from the Expo about customers, the crowd, or funny sightings and then share them on Twitter. Give everyone a glimpse of what it’s like being there and that’s what VisionWeb plans to do. Look out for our Vine videos on Twitter!
What fun is a tradeshow without giveaways? A prize wheel is a great way to keep your customers engaged and draw people into the booth. But forget about the bulky spin wheel that’s expensive to ship and difficult to set up! iPrizeWheel will provide the same amount of fun and panels are customizable in minutes.
Networking and Socializing
When tapping on the screen of your smartphone gets too overrated, Bump allows two smartphone users to physically bump their phones together to transfer contact information, photos, and files to each other. It also allows users to bump photos from their phone to a computer. It is the eighth most popular app to be downloaded from the app store, so it is very likely that the new connection you just made at the tradeshow will have the app too.
Expect to exchange plenty of business cards with new connections and customers you make at the tradeshow. But before you keep it in your pocket, be sure to use Business Card reader. It reads the image and enters the data into appropriate fields of your smartphone’s address book. No more manual input of contact information and no more losing important contacts!
We hope that it’s not just all work at Expo. You’re in New York City, one of the world’s most exciting and bustling cities! You deserve to explore and have a little bit of fun. NYC Way provides a list of places to eat, visit, and shop. With maps and transportation options, it also helps you navigate around the Big Apple.
As iconic as yellow taxis are to New York City, it can be hard to flag one down. CabSense NYC shows which street corners are best for catching a taxi cab based on the day of the week, time, and your current location. Reduce the wait time for a cab and get to the tradeshow on time!
Now that we've recommended our favorite apps, we want to hear from you! What tips for ECPs can you share for must-have traveling apps?
Come visit VisionWeb at Booth #MS7061 and follow our journey through Vision Expo East on Twitter! We hope to see you there!
You may have spotted the Google Glasses at New York Fashion Week, but other than being good for making a fashion statement, they are here to revolutionize the eyewear industry through augmented reality. The ladies at Optical Vision Site are here to give their take on the future of augmented reality eyewear, and introduce a few cool technology glasses you could be seen wearing in a couple of years!
Eyewear Of The Future: Augmented Reality
We have been blogging about augmented reality eyewear for 4 years! If you haven’t heard of the Google Glass Project which is set to go public in 2013, there are other alternatives to augmented reality eyewear. Check out some of these technology glasses, which just might give Google a run for their money.
Virtual Screen Video Glasses
Vuzix Star 1200 XL- Video eyewear specialists, Vuzix, have revealed a brand new model of augmented reality eyewear, the STAR 1200XL. These bad boys are looking very futuristic, and we can’t wait to try them out and pretend we’re in TRON or something.
Source: trendhunter.com via Optical on Pinterest and blog.gadgethelpline.com via Optical on Pinterest
Microsoft is working on a device that delivers information about live events to a person wearing a head-mounted display. One of the drawings included in Microsoft’s patent application shows the device could come in the form of eyeglasses.
Source: latimes.com via Optical on Pinterest
These actually predate Google’s in terms of granted patents (dating all the way back to 2009), and while this product started out as a little more than “movie glasses” that were merely meant to display video content from an iPod (not so much a HUD interface like Glass), this eyewear has slowly evolved into something more than simple video glasses. In a patent application filed recently, Apple’s vision for their “video glasses” has taken a sharp turn down Google street.
Source: phandroid.com via Optical on Pinterest
iPhone Theater - (Not really augment reality but still fun to include!) The iPhone Theater may look like a retro virtual reality device, but it actually offers a mini movie watching experience—which, let’s face it, is very similar to virtual reality.
TTP Augmented Reality Glasses (Prototype)
Developed as a prototype by TTP (The Technology Partnership), a technology development company, the glasses incorporate a tiny projector in one arm of the spectacles. The picture is then reflected from the side into the center of the lenses, which are etched with a reflective pattern that then beams the image into the eye.
Source: guardian.co.uk via Optical on Pinterest
Lumus transparent wearable AR display and the company revealed a new optical engine at the Mobile World Congress. The Lumus OE-31 see-through wearable display can be integrated in regular glasses. As you can see, the eyewear in the picture comes with an embedded MP3 player; the OE-31 is on its left side.
Source: mobilemag.com via Optical on Pinterest
Olympus Wearable Eyewear Technology
Olympus is building the MEG4.o wearable display, a Bluetooth device that will communicate via smartphone, having its own built-in acceleration sensor, interface, and maybe GPS features.
Source: opticalvisionresources.com via Optical on Pinterest
Sony Wearable Communication Eyeglasses
Source: opticalvisionresources.com via Optical on Pinterest
Like the Optical Vision Site as much as we do? Read more on their site!
Increasing efficiency and boosting profits are the biggest goals for any business. Have you made an action plan to achieve your goals, or is your eyecare practice expecting everything to just fall into place? Getting started is the hardest part, so we have done the dirty work for you. Bettering patient relations should be at the top of your priorities, and these 7 solutions will build a strong stepping stone for your optometric practice!
Make sure you're getting the most you can out of your optometric practice management system. Utilizing only a few features isn’t necessarily taking advantage of the investment you have made.
Solution: Most PMS's offer a database of training materials for you to get started, which can be of value to you even after you’ve implemented optometric practice management software. Check through this database and see if you are using every feature possible, there may even be features you didn’t know existed!
2. Are you submitting both orders and insurance claims online?
Your practice has to put your patient’s information online anyway, so if you’re still using phone or fax to send in your orders, you're wasting valuable time. Payers also force you to file claims online, and because there are different insurance services, switching between several different sites can be frustrating and time consuming.
Solution: There are various online claim filing and ordering services out there. If you haven't made the switch yet, these services may be fit for your practice. At VisionWeb you not only have access to online lab ordering of spectacle lenses, frames, and contacts but you can also file your claims through our insurance services. Check to see if your practice is using one of our compatible practice management systems.
3. Are you increasing frame sales?
Boosting frame sales can increase your revenue significantly, and new frames are the fun part of our industry. Make buying new frames become an experience for you to get to know your patient so that you can satisfy their needs. This is your opportunity for personalities to shine, and when that happens you are able to stock up on the frames you know your customers want!
Solution: In order to incre1ase sales you must immediately review and refine sales techniques. Differentiate your practice and stand out. Check out this list of "10 Actions to Improve Your Optical Dispensary" on the Review of Optometric Business blog to improve frame sales.
4. Is your practice embracing social media?
It’s never too late to create a greater sense of visibility by placing your brand all over the net through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter! It's an extension for your practice to interact with customers. Creating a relationship through social media can be vital to enhance your online presence.
Solution: Create a social media account or two that works best for your practice. Make sure someone at your practice educates themselves on all the resources these networks can provide. Get ready to build your online brand!
5. Are you utilizing social media facilitating tools?
Social media might get a little overwhelming from time to time. Fortunately, there are applications that allow you to consistently update every social media account you have in just one click!
Solution: Two of our favorite applications to integrate social media at VisionWeb are Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, which are FREE! These applications give you have the ability to monitor your posts, schedule them, and better organize your platforms in just one application. There are also applications with small fees such as Market Me Suite or Argyle Social, which have abilities that will certainly fascinate you!
6. Have you even thought about search engine optimization?
Statistically, most people don’t even go past the first page when they use Google, meaning when there are countless eyecare practices in your area, you may get lost in the crowd. Fortunately, there are ways to move your practice to the top, and this is FREE advertising!
Solution: Get your name out there; the more content you provide on the net, the quicker you’ll climb the ladder, and getting ahead on this opportunity will make your practice stand out. Creating a blog provides opportunities, because the more consistent you are, the more your name is seen by search engines. The fun thing about this is that you can do what you want with it!
7. Do you have an effective online reputation management policy?
Your practice's name is out there and people are writing things, good and bad. Accessing this information allows you the ability to know what your practice is doing effectively and areas of improvement that can be made. Just remember, these reviews are being seen by potential customers!
Solution: Google search yourself and your practice. Claim these review sites and learn from them! Develop a response policy to both positive and negative reviews to enhance your customers' experiences.
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