By Hillary Bonuedie
The Vision Expo East Conference was held on March 21st – 24th at New York City’s Javits Center. The event brought together over 3,500 optometrists, opticians, practice staff, and ophthalmic techs for a weekend to educate providers on the latest eye care advances and strategies to improve their business.
TKG’s key findings from the event included:
- There’s no substitute for great service; service can differentiate practices from their competitors. A growing concern for ECPs is the number of companies working to disrupt the eye care industry. Whether it’s 1-800 Contacts or Warby Parker, corporate competitors are emerging ready to offer patients cheap and convenient alternatives to visiting their ECP’s office. While ECPs could engage in price wars, they may find service to be the key factor in retaining patients. In today’s environment, many people have come to accept mediocre service as the norm; however, practices are discovering that acceptance and satisfaction are not the same. In 2017, Solutionreach found that 54% of Millennials say they have already switched practices in the last few years and 43% say they are likely to switch practices in the near term.1 Retaining patients will require emphasis on the patient experience—improving wait times, communications, and interactions with staff can go a long way in preserving and building a practice.
- Focus should be on patients, not sales. While sales are the engine for keeping practices in business, more emphasis will have to be placed on the patient experience to convey a professional, caring environment. Eye care providers and staff will have happier patients when patients are informed. Patients tend to assume their insurance covers all services, but especially in eye care, there are often additional out of pocket costs (OOPs). Informing patients ahead of time what their insurance does and does not cover will remove the surprise of OOPs. An informed patient can then make decisions based on what prices they are comfortable paying, saving patients and providers the hassle of dealing with charges after a product or service has been chosen.
- Eye care practices will learn to adapt to the changing healthcare landscape to stay relevant in the long term. Amazon is a great example of a company that disrupted the industry by providing consumers convenience at low costs and high quality. While the Quadruple Aim of healthcare can often seem fleeting, ECPs can disrupt the industry and challenge competitors by offering out of the box services and amenities. Practices across the country have begun experimenting with new approaches to staff roles and service offerings. To name a few, practices are testing out integrating car services, like LyftTM and UberTM, to support patients who have recently undergone surgery procedures, as well as debrief pods where staff can privately share insurance coverage with patients. Such processes are continuously being evaluated for their usefulness and effect on revenue.
Based on our learnings at Vision Expo East, the eye care industry is moving towards putting the patient at the center of the care team. Enhancing the patient experience of care will prove not only beneficial to the patient, but also to eye care business and processes.
- The patient-provider relationship study: The ripple effect starts with boomers. Solutionreach Website. https://www.solutionreach.com/rethinking-the-patient-provider-relationship. Revised June 16, 2017. Accessed March 20, 2018.