The objective of the event was to highlight many of the technological advances that are going to change the healthcare industry in general and the eyecare industry in particular. For example, eyecare practices are demanding more of their practice management and EHR software, moving from client-based to web and mobile-based solutions, and requiring more interoperability to share information with other practitioners.
So, too, are patients demanding more of their healthcare providers, seeking mobile solutions, and requiring more accessible healthcare data. Furthermore, cheap, direct-to-consumer options are enabling patients to buy their eyewear and contact lenses online.
In addition to market forces, the government is pushing patents to be more accountable for their own health, to take better care of themselves, and invest in preventative medicine. The confluence of these pressures is requiring us to reimagine healthcare and remove the silos between providers and disciplines. Technology can help us do that.
Dr. Daniel Kraft, the keynote speaker, explained that we can only make these things happen by embracing technology. The proliferation and ubiquity of mobile devices and the unique and specialized apps that are developed for them will be a benefit to healthcare. Soon we will see healthcare providers prescribing apps in addition to, or in place of, medications. Apps like a mobile EKG can monitor heartrate, a pedometer can record the number of steps taken in a day and measure exercise, and mobile diagnostic equipment that plugs into the mobile device can measure all manner of diagnostic medical information. All of which can send data back to the healthcare professional for review.
This sounds like fanciful stuff, but the technology is available today. As you can imagine this flood of data will be overwhelming, so it will be increasingly important to be able to sort and visualize changes in measurements over time. Dashboards that can sift through and display data visually will become more important as more data pours in.
Not everything at FOCUS 2012 was reminiscent of an H. G. Wells novel. The next segment was a lively panel discussion about using technology in the eyecare practice. The panel consisted of Warren Meyers, Nikki Iravani, OD, and Ryan Wineinger, OD. The panel covered many topics, but the questions focused on leveraging social media. Some titbits of advice on social media included the following:
- Focus on a few, select social media outlets. Don’t try to hit them all.
- Solicit your patients for reviews on Yelp and Google Places.
- Don’t delete unfavorable reviews. Potential patients are looking for authentic information about your practice and will turn away if they sense that the reviews all came from your friends and family.
If you know someone who attended the event, ask them about it. We hope to see you at FOCUS 2013. In the meantime, swing by the Eyefinity booth at VEW.