by Katherine Shilova
According to WHO, around 2.2 billion people have visual impairments. With such a significant number of those seeking treatment, ophthalmologists struggle to deliver their services as quickly and effectively as possible. At the same time, there is also a high clinical need for therapeutic personalization and optimization.
In response to this challenge, modern technology has been breaking new ground to help medical centers and device manufacturers automate routine processes and unlock a more personalized approach to patients.
Read on to find out how ophthalmic companies tap into automation in more detail.
5 areas of ophthalmology services to benefit from technology
Let’s take a look at the areas where providers of ophthalmology services may face considerable inefficiencies in their operations.
1. Customer care
When turning to eye care, ophthalmology customers prefer convenient and personalized services. Any company that doesn’t meet those requirements will end up with poor business outcomes. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that there are no bottlenecks in customer care provision: customers want the ability to order products online via an intuitive interface, easily choose the necessary parameters, and track the status of the device being manufactured. Businesses failing to provide that need to start looking for a software solution to address customer care issues and ultimately make buyers happy.
2. Routine tasks
Medical profiles contain lots of data, including optician prescriptions, measurements, visit records and so on. As a result, many providers face the problem of their staff spending too much time on manual data entry, organizing and verifying medical records.
Well-structured data plays a vital role in highly individualized manufacturing of spectacles and lenses. It is also important to ensure access to data throughout a company and enable data filtering based on access rights. All those tasks can be tackled with the help of automation.
3. Invoicing and payments
Vision care services are expensive, although some patients’ insurance plans cover them fully or partially. But usually, spectacles and contact lenses are not included in a regular health plan. That’s where providers could use a system to streamline invoice verification and payment processing.
A new software solution will offer the possibility to handle different insurance plans, support online payment and enable the level of security as per standards required by a particular country.
4. Infrastructure and data interoperability
Ophthalmic companies may one day find out that their workflows get obstructed by uncoordinated data and outdated systems. Different departments within a company might be using multiple applications, having a difficult time with data aggregation. Moreover, business growth depends heavily on comprehensive, 360-degree data, which allows companies to make informed decisions. To that end, migrating existing systems to the cloud can help revamp legacy software and speed up workflows, reduce costs, and build scalable, flexible infrastructures.
5. Regulatory compliance
Compliance with the European industry regulations on medical devices is the hallmark of a reputable provider. Companies must guarantee their devices are safe to use. If they fail to do so, they risk losing credibility and, hence, loyal customers. Therefore, their ophthalmology medical device software must be designed in a way that ensures reliability and flawless performance.
Here’s how technology might help
Let’s dive into the range of solutions that can help meet the challenges of the ophthalmology industry effectively and add substantial value to organizations and care delivery.
Customer care solutions
Solutions aimed at improving interactions with customers should be straightforward to use. Intuitive interface and features make it easier to access and navigate customer profiles, enter measurement data, write and share prescriptions, and analyze retina images. All these routines can be performed in a couple of clicks.
Not only doctors but patients too can benefit from such optimization. The example of the Ciitizen startup demonstrates how a properly organized order-taking process and access to medical records can assist patients. The platform offers users access to health data that can be further shared with doctors or family members, resulting in a better-organized care provision.
Emerging features such as voice recognition and voice-to-text tools come in handy as well. They can help ophthalmologists identify a customer, search by customer name, provide access to medical history and verify an insurance plan automatically during a single call.
Some of the other useful features are e-signature, automated distribution by email or fax and integration with the existing electronic medical record (EMR), practice management (PM) and electronic health record (EHR) systems.
Mobile apps can assist providers with streamlining customer data collection and visit scheduling. For instance, an app like Peek Acuity provides preliminary vision checks and detects the individual treatment needs of each customer. If enabled, it can also collect a patient’s health data and share it with their doctor.
Another option is to use mobile assistants that would act as a nurse, asking customers questions and using their responses to conduct eye health surveys on newly bought lenses or spectacles.
Finally, mobile apps should allow customers to make an appointment, track order status and receive real-time notifications — we recommend making these options available at any time and in all cases.
Robotics and embedded software for lens manufacturers
Lens makers need robotics software for their manufacturing equipment. This category of solutions is intended to refine the process of lens design and development.
Sunny Optical Technology Group Co., Limited, a manufacturer of optical products, has paved its way to a leading position in the market by actively using 3D imaging and scanning, advanced analytics and embedded software. The latter is calibrated to the needs of optical labs, reducing the time of processing data generated by medical devices and yielding quick results.
Payment and invoice processing solutions
To improve the handling of claims and receipt of payments, ophthalmologists endeavor to get away from manual operations. Sometimes, payment issues arise from the fact that different patients have different health insurance plans, which is something that should be taken into account when payment is being made. Automated verification of health insurance before a patient visit can dramatically offload providers.
According to Aberdeen Group, solutions for automating payment processes can provide a 75% reduction of time and costs, ensure 85% fewer errors and enhance overall performance by 300%. On top of those benefits, secure storage of customer payment data enables convenient automatic transactions and prompt payment.
The application of cloud-based systems is a logical step to promote service planning and delivery. Centralized, integrated data is easy to distribute and update in real time, which makes complicated processes more flexible in the face of constantly pressing challenges such as manual data entry or low level of personalization.
Successful providers have moved around 50% of their data to the cloud. Cloud solutions allow unimpeded data collection, storage and sharing and also let both providers and customers interact with data from a device of any type. Having customer information in the cloud also fosters data interoperability and collaboration among service providers, insurers and payment companies.
Providers of ophthalmic services need medical device software created in line with local and industry regulations. Take the startup Omada Health, engaged in behavioral health: they believe an organization’s compliance with the requirements dramatically increases customer trust. More and more customers start taking the privacy and safety of personal data seriously, and providers cannot afford to ignore that fact.
A useful tip before adopting a new solution is to draw up a compliance checklist and figure out what exactly to expect from new software.
Since every eye is unique, each ophthalmology patient requires a personalized approach. Struggling to be amid top market players, providers introduce more patient-centered services and harness technology to come up with optimal solutions for their challenges. Be it a ready-made or custom solution — either option is good; the choice depends on the company’s business strategy, its size, and its pressing needs.