ONEONTA, Ala. And GREENSBORO, N.C.—Many independent practices are seeing the advantage of using new digital tools to extend their connections with patients, tools that help patients book appointments at their convenience, discover suggestions via more productive e-mail communications that help inform patients about potential choices and enliven the dispensing experience as well.

That’s true for ECPs who are taking part with EssilorLuxottica either as Essilor Experts and as participants in the newer EsssilorLuxottica 360 program which gives them and their practice teams access to a suite of new digital enhancements. The EssilorLuxottica tools range from digital targeting of consumers in close proximity to practices and the tools that change the experience when the patient arrives at the practice.

Rainbow City Family Eyecare ( practices are based in Oneonta, Ala., and Dr. Gene Harrison has served on the board of the Alabama Optometric Association and is currently the state administrator for Vision Source. He said, “The SmartBook online appointment scheduling has everything we need. Patients can go online to schedule their appointments but we can also enhance this capability to more patients by delivering messages about exams that might be overdue and other informational messages, like our new dry eye therapies and the benefits providing early detection for macular degeneration through Adapt Tx and other services. We are probably seeing an additional 5 to 10 patients a week due to this.”

The program, he said, “gives us access to social media content that’s helps us generate more consistent social posts about our services and we’ve seen the impact already.”

Coming onstream at Rainbow Family Eye Care soon will be one of the new digital monitors that the practice will set up in its dispensaries to help showcase more information about the eyewear brands carried. “We think this will have a big impact as these communicate a modern image for our practice to patients.”

For Dr. Tim Koop of Triad Eye Associates ( in Greensboro, the advantages connecting the SmartBook online appointment scheduling to Essilor’s hyper local marketing program helps create a smoother way for patients to set up their time and/or discover Triad, also a Vision Source practice.

Dr. Koop told VM, “The hyperlocal marketing gets us located in the search for business ads, which is connected with SmartBook so patients can click right away to make their appointment which is one less barrier for them. It’s a seamless experience which is good for them and for us. We’ve been seeing about 4 or 5 new patients a week from SmartBook, which we started around January of this year. We also added a new associate to our team last fall and this helped us right away to get her appointments booked.”

The Triad practice has had an established office in Greensboro for 18 years, which brings an eclectic mix of patients and demographics, Dr Koop said. The other office, Oak Ridge, about 20 miles away, is more of a bedroom community for Greensboro. It is slightly more affluent with many people working from home so they are online a lot.

“They see ads, whether on TV or on their social feeds, which can take them to the Essilor Experts page, and also connect them to us. It’s a nice advantage.” Dr. Koop anticipates bringing in a digital screen from Luxottica to play some brand and marketing videos, too, in the dispensary. “This is another touchpoint with patients and it will make an impact.”

He added, “I’d been intending to bring in more tools for a while, researching things a bit pre-pandemic. We were initially nervous about trying some of the new tools and losing a bit of control with the appointments, but skipping ahead, this has turned out to help our staff a lot. For now, we also have taken to creating welcome videos for new patients to familiarize them with their doctor and team before they come in. Today, you really need to meet patients where they are,” Dr. Koop said.