Consistency is everything when it comes to building your practice reputation and providing the best eye health. Yet provisioning your staff with the necessary skills and encouraging them to ‘sing from the same song sheet’ takes many months. In some cases they’ve moved on before they’ve even hit the first note.
Now an Australian optometrist has delivered a solution that engages patients and staff on a harmonious journey, ultimately culminating in optimum eye care.
Patients are increasingly engaged in their own health outcomes. No longer content to be told what they need, they want to understand why they need it and what their alternate options are. To meet these expectations, eye care is moving from a provider-centric to a consumer-centric model.
However, when staff are turning over or you are managing a team, it can be difficult to ensure all patients are receiving the depth of information and advice they expect or you want your practice to deliver.
Because myeyes chooses the lenses that the labs prefer, we have been able to speed up our job ordering time by 150%
Melbourne optometrist Jim Papas, has responded to this challenge by developing myeyes, a software solution that has been tried and tested in several independent optometry practices, including Mr Papas’ own. Such is the global potential of this software that in 2017 it was recognised with an Australian Government development grant and has one over 13 national awards for innovation and customer service.
The software, which plugs into existing practice management systems, maps the entire patient journey, offering an extensive number of modules, from online booking, pre-clinical eye health checks and Telehealth, through to facial analysers and style consultations, education on spectacle and contact lenses, transparent pricing and after sales follow-up. Staff training, customer surveys, and analytics are also in the mix.
Mr Papas says the result is that optometrists are ‘pre-warned’ of potential eye health concerns prior to a patient’s consultation; patients benefit from a consistently high quality personalised experience; and practices gain from increased sales revenue and customer feedback.
“Our experience shows that patients are more satisfied with their care, and practices increase sales by 6–15% as both the average purchase price and purchase frequency increases,” says Mr Papas. “Additionally, they are able to gather customer feedback which helps build their online presence and improve their offering.”
Indeed, Adrian Vecchio from Russo Optometry in Victoria says, “In the 12 months during which we have been using myeyes, we have found that we have had higher average patient spend, significantly improved patient flow and amazing customer feedback.”
READY TO SCALE UP
Mr Papas came up with the idea for myeyes back in 2008.
“At that time, unemployment was 4.2% so it was an employee’s market – it was hard to find the trained staff you needed and inevitably they’d move on to the next opportunity even before you had them fully trained. We had a number of practices in the group and I wanted to ensure every patient received the same level of service regardless of who was looking after them.
“Recognising that patients have different needs, expectations and budgets for eye care at different stages of their life, I also wanted to be able to personalise the eye care experience and educate consumers to understand the differences in frame and lens technology and how it will improve their lifestyle. The results have shown that consumers are choosing higher valued products which has led to improved visual outcomes.”
Twelve years on, Mr Papas has worked through several iterations of myeyes, each time expanding its capability so that today the solution can be customised and subscribed according to practice needs and budget, and accessed on any device.
“We’ve had the platform on the market in a limited way for a couple of years. In 2020 our growth was stymied by COVID as practices had to stop spending due to uncertainties. Now we’re ready to scale up and really establish ourselves in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
CLOSING THE LOOP
myeyes has been designed to engage the patient from the very beginning with an online booking module and triaging which can be completed from their home or when they arrive in the practice. Similarly, preclinical testing for visual fields, myopia, macular disease, an ocular surface disease index questionnaire and more, both prepare the optometrist for the consultation and enable the practice to provide the patient with personalised information via animations or leaflets. Once the optometrist has completed the eye examination, lens recommendations are entered into the patient’s myeyes record, which are accessed by the dispensing staff member during handover. The software enables the optical dispenser/assistant to demonstrate visually, the outcomes that can be achieved with different lenses and coatings, and to recommend frames using the device’s web cam patented facial recognition technology which identifies skin colour, hair colour and face shape. Additionally, practices can display pricing for different lenses, frames, and bundled options.
Mr Papas said the transparent pricing assists consumers in the way they expect to purchase goods and services today, making it easier for them to understand the different frame and lens options, as well as pricing bundles. In doing so, it is becoming a valuable sales tool.
“Patients can clearly see the price differential for alternate lens materials, coatings etc., or, for example, when you’re offering a discount on a second pair. We often find that instead of buying one frame with a premium lens and choosing a second basic frame and lens package, a customer who can see the vision benefits and savings to be made will opt for premium lenses in both frames.”
Mr Vecchio has found that as well as increasing purchase value, myeyes is reducing costs and staff administrative time.
“Because myeyes chooses the lenses that the labs prefer, we have been able to speed up our job ordering time by 150%. It reduces errors and we don’t miss adding grind prices or other add-ons,” he said.
Many patients seek out a practice for the first time by going online, which makes search engine optimisation and customer reviews important marketing tools. With this in mind, Mr Papas has included an automated net promoter score (NPS) facility in his platform.
Customers who give a practice (and the attending staff member) positive NPS feedback on a scale of one to10, are prompted to add a Google review to reflect this score, which in turn contributes to the practice’s online ranking.
“Good net promoter scores – achieved when customers rank you highly in online customer surveys – will help your practice rise to the top of the list,” explained Mr Papas.
Practice owner Jagrut Lallu, owner of Rose Optometrists in New Zealand, said patient use of the NPS tool doubled Google reviews of his practice in just under one month of use.
Equally importantly, NPS scores are delivered in real time which means practices gain instant and constant feedback on their patients’ experiences and staff behaviour.
Positive scores will reinforce behaviours and build confidence in staff, while negative ‘detractor’ scores provide an opportunity to immediately remediate patient frustrations and make improvements. Mediocre scores are an alert to improve the patient experience.
“You may want to contact a patient to recover their loyalty following a negative score or, if it’s a middle of the road score you might just make a note alongside their patient record on myeyes so that staff know to go above and beyond the next time they’re in. It’s much easier to retain customers than it is to find new ones, so this is helping practices to do exactly that.”
Just as myeyes tracks customer feedback, it also tracks metrics on dispensing, enabling both staff and practice performance to be benchmarked, and highlighting opportunities for further training and development.
“Practice success is all about continuous improvement in skills and consistent service delivery to meet our patients’ changing needs and expectations. myeyes has the complex algorithms to do this and it integrates and works closely with existing practice management systems for optimum efficiency,” Mr Papas said.
“Having finessed the platform, our challenge now is to scale it up so that more practices, their staff and patients, can benefit from the technology.”
A number of the myeyes modules can be trialled for free for thirty days. Visit myeyes.vision.