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Technologies to Differentiate Your Practice: Four Top Picks

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We live in a technology-savvy world. You can scan your own groceries at the supermarket as you shop, pay for goods and services by swiping your credit card on a merchant’s smartphone, and check in on an iPad at the local urgent care clinic. Medical technology is advancing rapidly, as well, particularly in the field of eye care.

Optometry and ophthalmology practices are among those that are differentiating themselves through technology. Not only are they embracing technology that assists in the diagnosis and treatment of vision and eye health, but more eye care practitioners are seeing the value of technology that provides a better patient experience and delivers more effective patient education.

This is a smart move, since 60 percent of respondents said it was extremely important to them that their doctor use technology, according to a recent survey by medical billing software company Kareo. The same percentage also said use of technology increased their confidence in their doctor.

It may be tempting to evaluate new technologies based solely on their direct financial ROI and to delay hardware and software updates to invest only in new diagnostic equipment that generates revenue, but this can be short-sighted, say practices that have done this. While it’s ideal to stay up-to-the minute with all the technology in your practice, it’s not always feasible. You’re better off focusing on the technology that gives you the most bang for your buck. Here are our top four picks for non-diagnostic technologies for your practice:

EMRs/EHRs. Electronic medical records, or electronic health records, are the largest piece of technology that most medical practices purchase. EMRs not only streamline and organize your practice’s record-keeping better than paper-based systems, they also allow clyou to track and monitor patient data over time. A good EMR system will also send out appointment reminders and invoices to patients, and allow for secure doctor-to-doctor and doctor-to-patient communications.

Government financial incentives for the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs have spurred more practices to implement them. According to the Kareo survey, out of 1,400 physicians and practice administrators, 70 percent of responding practices had implemented an EHR in 2014, up from 48 percent in 2010.

Internet-based Patient Engagement Software. Internet-based platforms mean you don’t have to host and maintain your own servers in-house. Nor do you have to invest in expensive hardware to run patient-education software, for example, or upgrade separate devices every time there’s a software update. Because the software is hosted in online, you can access it from any device with an Internet connection – smartphone, tablet, or PC – and you automatically get the latest version of the software every time.

Savvy practices use internet-based platforms for patient education and for marketing – the same product that allows you to play high-quality medical animations in your waiting room, exam room, or on your web site can also showcase your practice’s product and service offerings that patients may not be aware of.

Your website and social media sites. While some eye doctors think they don’t have time for social media or blogging, statistics and user experiences show that this generates significant, measurable results for many practices’ bottom lines. Whether you launch a Facebook page for your practice, start a blog, hire a company to handle your SEO, or integrate medical videos into your existing web site or Facebook page, it’s smart to consider strategies that will generate better search results for your practice and show patients that you are on top of current technology.

Tablets. Everyone loves tablets. Surveys show that physicians’ use of tablet computers has grown rapidly — 62 percent of physicians owned a tablet in 2012, up from 27 percent in 2011, and half of these doctors use them at the point of care. And an overwhelming majority of patients like it when doctors use tablets in the exam room, as well.

For a relatively small investment, you can impress patients, save time in the exam room, and improve patient engagement. Hand patients a tablet to watch a video about their condition, or use the tablet as a digital sketchpad, making notes and drawings on a diagram to better explain a procedure to patients.

New iPad apps for our Echo Professional subscribers simulate common ocular conditions as well as cataract surgery and lens replacement surgery options.

Not every practice can completely overhaul its technology at once, nor is it necessary. By making small upgrades and choosing flexible solutions, you’ll be on your way to building a tech-savvy practice that boosts your bottom line. To learn how we can help your practice bring its technology up to speed, contact us today.

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