Education, Try On and Measurement Made Easy

By
 


One of the most significant ways that technology is changing the patient experience is in the area of patient education. Brochures and other handouts are rapidly being replaced by more technologically advanced means of communicating about products and procedures.

Eyemaginations offers iPad apps, software and educational videos designed to help doctors present complex information to their patients in an engaging, easy-to-understand manner. The company’s Luma software is widely used in eyecare practices, including Matossian Eye Associates, a multi-specialty ophthalmology practice with offices in Doylestown, Penn., Hopewell, N.J. and Hamilton, N.J.

 
 Cynthia Matossian, MD, Matossian Eye Associates.
“We use Eyemaginations in many different ways,” said Cynthia Matossian, MD. When the patient is dilating, there is a 10 to 20 minute wait, depending on how long it takes the pupils to dilate. That’s the perfect time to show the patient topic-appropriate video clips. The clips consist of related vignettes that we group together according to categories, such as cataract surgery, implants, glaucoma, macular degeneration or contact lenses. It’s a personalized playlist drawn from all the offerings that Eyemaginations has.

“For example, under contact lenses, the subjects could be soft, gas permeables, colored, toric and multifocal contacts. The patient is exposed to these different topics. This way they’re educated and know the basics, so when an MD or an OD talks with them, they don’t have to start at ground zero. Not only is the patient better prepared to ask more advanced questions, but the focus is much more personalized and appropriate for each patient. That way, we don’t have a teenage patient watching a looping video on cataract surgery, or have an 88 year-old watching a video on contact lens fitting.”

Although Matossian Eye Associates does not have an optical dispensary, it uses Eyemaginations videos to inform patients about spectacle lens options. “We don’t use those clips regularly,” said Dr. Matossian. “But sometimes patients ask us about them, so it’s important that we provide patients with correct information. Patients are very appreciative, because they know that we are going out of our way to explain to them products that we don’t even carry. It personalizes the treatment, and helps with patient satisfaction and retention.”

 
 An AR lens demonstration on Carl Zeiss Vision’s i.Demo.
Many dispensers are now using iPad apps to virtually demonstrate lenses. Lens companies such as Carl Zeiss Vision and Hoya Vision Care have developed apps with realistic lens demos that ECPs say are quite effective. One of the newest apps of this type is Carl Zeiss Vision’s i.Demo, an interactive app for iPad. Available as a free i.Tunes download for Carl Zeiss Vision account holders, i.Demo is designed to help patients choose the best lenses and treatments for their needs. Through still images and videos depicting real life scenes, i.Demo shows the advantages of customized versus standard lenses, computer and office lenses and treatments such as AR coating. It includes an optional “profile” feature that allows the ECP to capture the patient’s needs and the recommended lens solution that results. The profile and recommendations can then be printed out for the patient.

 
 Robert Gole, OD, using i.Demo at the Yorkview
Optometric Clinic.

Robert Gole, OD president of Yorkview Optometric Clinic in Newmarket, Ontario, has installed i.Demo in multiple locations in both the exam rooms and dispensary, and he encourages his staff to use it. “I ask patients how they use their eyes, so we can determine what types of scenarios to show them,” explained Dr. Gole. “Whether it’s golf or crocheting, i.Demo helps them visualize it. You definitely engage the patient. There’s a ‘wow’ factor. They say ‘That’s exactly how it is, doctor.’”
Dr. Gole said once patients experience i.Demo they are more inclined to purchase the lenses they’ve seen demonstrated.

Another i.Demo user, Chad Douglas, OD of Douglas Family Eyecare in Warren, Ohio, said i.Demo is “a huge part of my encounter with re-educating my existing patients and educating new patients. I love it because it allows me to elaborate on what the patient’s prescription is. Whether they’re nearsighted or farsighted, I can show them on the screen how it will look. For the first time progressive lens wearer, I can show them a standard progressive and then show them how new lens design technology can enhance their field of vision by making it 40 percent wider. I can even show them the difference between a standard single vision lens and a digital one, or what a difference various lens materials can make, or what a Transitions or polarized lens can do. It’s priceless.”

Dr. Douglas said i.Demo has changed the way he practices optometry. “When I think about how I practiced 15 years ago, I never recommended a product to a patient. But i.Demo allows me to communicate more about lenses. It’s also made me learn more about the lenses, and become involved in all aspects of the patient’s care. Now I’m providing better service because I’m dealing not just with pathology, but with preventative eye health.”

Another app that offers “real life” lens demonstrations is the Hoya Vision Consultant (HVC) Viewer from Hoya Vision Care. Hoya describes it as “an augmented reality app for the iPad” that allows patients to “experience” the benefits of Hoya lenses before they buy them. Hoya offers five demo modules: progressive lenses, single vision lenses, indoor lenses, anti-reflective treatments and polarized lenses.

 
 Thomas Gosling, OD taking patient measurements with Hoya’s Spectangle app.
“The HVC uses the camera on the tablet. When you hold the tablet up, you can actually see what it looks like through a Hoya progressive,” said Thomas Gosling, OD, owner of Optical Matters in Littleton, Colo. “Sometimes, an optician might try to draw a progressive when discussing it with a patient. But when the patient sees the demo, they get it. It speeds up the dispensing process.” Dr. Gosling also noted that HVC is effective when demonstrating lens treatments such as polarization or AR.

“I show patients a lens without AR. I rub my finger over the lens and they can see how it scratches, gets water on it and smudges. Then they see lenses with different levels of AR. When you go to highest level, they see all this stuff disappear. They don’t have to imagine the benefits.”

Dr. Gosling said that although the HVC app cost him about $119, the cost was quickly offset by increased sales of premium lenses. “In the first week we must have upgraded a dozen people. That’s the beauty of it.”

Dr. Gosling also uses another Hoya app called Spectangle to take personalized measurements for free-form lenses—pantoscopic tilt, vertex distance, seg height, PD, face form, A, B, and DBL—using an iPad3. He photographs patients using an iPad camera, makes adjustments on the screen, enters in Rx data and lifestyle preferences, then pushes a button to send the order to the lab. According to Hoya, Spectangle addresses many of the drawbacks required to prescribe personalized progressives, including the time necessary to take frame and fitting measurements, equipment investment and ease of operating measuring devices. Although designed specifically for iD MyStyle, Spectangle can also be used to take accurate PDs and seg heights for any lens style, according to Hoya.

“Patients like it because after the measurements are taken, they see how they are referenced in a 3D picture of their face, and they come to a better understanding of what we’re trying to do,” said Dr. Gosling. “They see how the lens is more personalized, just like the service we’re giving them. It ties in nicely with the HVC Viewer.”

 
 Essilor’s M’eyeFit precisely reads pupillary distance, fitting height, A & B, pantoscopic tilt, wrap, and vertex measurements.
The newest tablet-based dispensing device on the market is Essilor of America’s M’eyeFit. Introduced in January, M’eyeFit precisely reads pupillary distance, fitting height, A & B, pantoscopic tilt, wrap, and vertex measurements, according to Essilor. These measurements ensure that patients receive the maximum benefits from premium Essilor lens designs such as Definity 3 Plus, the most technologically-advanced Definity lens, as well as Definity 3, Definity, Definity Fairway and other Essilor lenses.

Essilor said the M’eyeFit allows ECPs mobility in the office, and acclimation to the device is quick—in pilot tests ECPs were able to open the box and begin using the device in only 10 minutes.

The M’eyeFit device comes preloaded with additional tools to make dispensing easier, including frame selection, patient education, patient information management, online ordering and PMS connection.

Some multifunctional apps combine lens demonstration and patient measurement capabilities with virtual try-on technology. ABS Smart Mirror packages these features into an iPad app, which uses Augmented Reality technology to educate patients about lenses, take multifocal measurements and aid them with eyewear selection. The Smart Mirror iPad app takes pictures and five-second videos, allowing patients to see themselves wearing up to four frames. Pictures and videos can be e-mailed to the patient or used to update their Facebook page.

 
  Smart Mirror’s iPad app “puts some ‘wow’ back into taking measurements,” said Kyle Kravick of Davis Duehr Dean.
Davis Duehr Dean is a large eyecare practice that recently began using the Smart Mirror iPad app in all of its 20 locations in southern Wisconsin. “The nice thing about using an iPad app like this is that it’s portable,” said Kyle Kravick, retail manager for David Duehr Dean. “We snap pictures of the patient in the frames they like, then sit down with them and show them. If someone is wearing a frame with a nice temple embellishment, they can see it without having to turn their head.”

Kravick said using the Smart Mirror iPad app reinforces the practice’s technologically advanced image, particularly when taking personal measurements for digital lenses. “In our practice, about 60 percent of our lens sales are digital lenses,” he noted. “Whipping out the old pupillometer, PD stick and markers don’t impress patients too much when you’re selling $400 to $500 lenses. This puts some ‘wow’ back into taking measurements.”

Kravick said although Davis Duehr Dean has only been using the Smart Mirror iPad app for a short time, it is already boosting sales. “On the clinical side, we had a slow January, but our sales were up 10 percent in retail,” he noted.


  VSP Optics Group’s otto app is intended to serve as an eyecare practice’s “virtual optical assistant.”
Another multi-functional retail system is PFO Global’s SmartEyePix. The desktop system offers eye and face measurement, frame, contact lens try on, order management, benefit verification, and marketing support. SmartEyePix provides in-office patient education and communication through a two-screen system that enables practitioners to involve patients in the entire process, according to PFO Global.

One of the most comprehensive iPad apps for ECPs is otto from VSP Optics Group, which previewed it last fall at Vision Expo West. An acronym for “one touch to optical,” otto serves as an eyecare practice’s virtual optical assistant. Developed in collaboration with PFO Global and designed for the second and third generation Apple iPad, otto simplifies the measuring and dispensing of digital lenses, and brings eyewear consulting, electronic claim filing, and other features to the point-of-care. The system is still in development, but VSP said it plans to launch it soon.

 
 vpQuote helps patients with vision insurance calculate their out of pocket costs for eyewear.
New technology is also enhancing the patient experience with managed vision care. For example, software company called vpQuote has launched an online patient payment calculator for vision plans. The vpQuote Vision Plan Calculator enables optical dispensaries to determine the amount patients owe using their vision plan for optical sales given the selected frame, lenses, and lens enhancements.

“The most helpful thing about vpQuote is that you can show the patient what it would cost them out of pocket with their plan,” said Martha Proffitt, an optician for Dr. Todd Long’s ophthalmology practice in Charlottesville, Va. “The program is on the computer and it comes up automatically, so the patient can see it in writing. You just put the name of the plan in and everything comes up and gives you the prices.” She said the vpQuote software helps upsell patients from standard products to premium ones because it calculates how much would be covered by insurance. ■