Optometric Management Tip # 488 - Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Optical Dispensing Instruments
Several companies are selling or leasing camera-based, point of sale devices as an adjunct to optical dispensing. I saw some of them last week at Optometry's Meeting (AOA) in Salt Lake City. These instruments offer many advantages to the eye care practice and they create a financial return that is much greater than the cost.
Benefits to your practice
- Increased accuracy with basic optical measurements. These instruments use photographic technology to accurately align the frame and take the measurements with less skill and judgment required. This factor alone makes the devices worth the cost. Most eye care offices (mine included) have issues with accurately measuring and fitting progressive lenses. If you can significantly reduce errors in fitting heights and monocular PDs, you will reduce remake costs, and even more importantly, achieve higher patient satisfaction and loyalty.
- Additional measurements that you are probably not taking. In addition to the basic requirements to order progressive lenses, the instrument automatically measures natural head posture, center of eye rotation, vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt, wrap angle, visual behavior, A, B and DBL measurements. Before you write this off as unnecessary for most prescriptions, consider the competitive advantage of bringing professional services to your optical and consider the new generation of digital lenses that require these measurements.
- Ability to sell premium free-form lenses in single vision and progressive designs. The most advanced lenses on the market carry higher fees and higher reimbursements from vision plans.
- Patients can see what they will look like with various frame choices. The system can be used for patients to try on their new frames and model them for the video camera, then watch themselves while wearing their current prescription glasses. This feature sells additional pairs of glasses and higher priced frames.
- Demonstration videos that educate patients about lens design features like high index, free-form, anti-reflective, Transitions and more. Use the system to demonstrate how premium lens features work and you will increase sales.
- A big enhancement to your reputation. There is a huge wow factor with these optical dispensing systems. Very few people have ever experienced it and they will surely tell their friends about your office and why their glasses are more accurate.
- A hedge against losing patients to online optical vendors. I think advanced measurements, greater professional services and customized lenses is a big step toward competing with the trend of patients buying glasses online. If these systems and the products they go with are indeed better, it will be difficult for an online vendor to match the in-office service.
How to implement
These systems are available as a stand-alone kiosk in your dispensary or the unit can be placed on a table. After selecting one or two frames, the patient is escorted to the instrument and a plastic clip-on device is placed onto the frame and the combination is placed on the patient's face. Photographs are quickly taken from two angles.
Train your staff to maximize the wow factor of using the system. Educate the patient by informing them that you are using the most advanced technology for accurately measuring and fitting their new glasses. This technology allows you to prescribe customized free-form lenses that actually make vision clearer than ordinary lenses. I like to say that digital lenses are a step beyond the basic lens prescription and it is like having HD in your glasses.
To achieve faster patient flow without a bottleneck to use the device, the photos and measurements can be downloaded to a USB flash drive and carried to any computer in the optical for review with the patient.
Who sells these systems?
Some of the systems on the market include Visioffice by Essilor, i.Terminal by Zeiss, Expert 3 by Activisu, Optikam and I'm sure there are more. Research the devices online, check with your local wholesale lab or attend the next major eye convention for an actual demonstration. There are many creative ways to acquire these devices and some labs even offer reward points to help pay for them.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management