by Katherine Shilova
Imagine a patient dropping by an optometrist’s office for a checkup. The patient is met by attentive staff and invited into a spacious room flooded with light and equipment. The consultant, aka optometrist, walks them through the necessary procedures.
When the doctor is done, it’s time for sophisticated technology that ensures high accuracy of ophthalmic analysis and measurement.
Modern ophthalmology software assists with processes beyond those that patients can observe in a doctor’s office: analyzing eye parameters and its 3D projections, calculating highly tailored lens configurations, secure patient data processing and many more. Optometrists rely on the newest software immensely.
But are they happy with the solutions they use daily? Read on to learn about the weaknesses of ophthalmic software that can undermine care delivery, and find out how to fix them.
Eight tips for building better ophthalmic software
How can the use of inappropriate ophthalmic software impact customer experience? A few common examples include systemic manual data entry, lack of specific functionality, overly complicated interface for non-tech-savvy users, poor image recognition tools, incompatibility with other software components within an organization, non-intuitive design and overload with features.
We have conducted research into this issue, interviewing our clients, doctors, patients and manufacturers of lenses and glasses. Below are the results we have obtained. Ophthalmic organizations may need to put the following points on their to-do lists if they wish to improve existing software or adopt a new solution.
Reduce manual order-taking process
A vast majority of mid- and small-size manufacturers mention phone calls or fax as their primary channel of receiving orders. From our practice, a medical organization may need over 60 operators to handle an average of 3 million calls yearly. In case of insufficient automation, they will have to assign experienced specialists to process routine calls and enter massive amounts of data manually.
According to a healthcare automation report, automated solutions help reach about a hundred times more customers and provide five times more additional revenue. Digital automation helps optimize the number of orders, allows operators to efficiently accept calls on several target call reasons, guides customers through questionnaires and collects all related data in digital form by obviating routine manual processes.
Enable a sufficient choice of parameters
A software system made for opticians should allow them to operate with different lens parameters as per their patients’ needs and order customized lenses directly from manufacturers. If necessary, software should be compatible with peripheral optical devices. Thus, a software solution for an ophthalmic practice should offer all the options to collect, process and exchange measurement data.
An example is the use of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems through the ophthalmic industry. If a solution does not enable sufficient options for entering, processing and sharing all types of patient data, ophthalmologists will waste time finding ways to do without those missing components. A well-designed EMR assists with both keeping patient records and measuring the quality of service.
Update legacy systems
Non-technicians, such as optometrists, all too often find that some of the software they employ is non-intuitive. To improve adoption, medical systems should offer a convenient interface so doctors could perform their tasks without getting bogged down by technicalities.
A common problem for technicians is that it is challenging to maintain outdated parts of a system, or a whole legacy system. When software providers no longer supply up-to-date performance or security patches, medical organizations end up with obsolete systems that entail high risks related to data protection and proper processing.
Improve image recognition capabilities
Configuration systems require vast image recognition and processing capabilities for adequate product shaping. A system should support necessary image formats, and allow accurate image processing and high image resolution. If not, it’s time to fill some capacity gaps.
Doctors may need image recognition solutions to examine patients’ medical images and select the right product configuration, be it the choice of lenses in the ophthalmology area or, for instance, selection of the most suitable joint-replacement product. Quality image recognition saves doctors time and ensures accuracy in choosing the most suitable product.
Ensure coherence with other software in place
Incompatibility of a solution with current software causes a significant blind spot between the order-taking process, the passing of the order to a manufacturer, and the real-time status tracking. At the worst, it may result in loss of data or its distortion. It is critical to make sure that a new solution fits in perfectly.
The results of our work for a manufacturer of custom-made lenses suggest that synchronizing optometry software with the existing systems simplifies lens selection processes, facilitates order status tracking and delivery process notifications, and prevents data loss. The much-improved workflow ultimately makes customers happy.
Introduce a simple and intuitive ERP
Opticians cooperate directly with manufacturers to order lenses matching the varying needs of each patient. An order is formed based on patient information, after which it is stored and added to the organization’s system.
An intuitive interface ensures smooth navigation through customer data and allows opticians to choose and input necessary parameters, share lens customization data and monitor the whole ordering process. A robust ERP system tailored to meet each patient’s ophthalmic needs will cover all or most of the operations.
Pull out redundant features
An inadequate ophthalmic software system complicates what is supposed to be straightforward. As an example, commonly used CRM and EMR systems may be overloaded with redundant functionality that slows down customer service, complicates the writing and sharing of prescriptions, and makes it challenging to create order and track order status. An optimal solution can ensure increased efficiency and productivity.
Provide adequate staff training when adopting new solutions
Legacy software may affect both employee and customer satisfaction. Novel solutions allow employees to implement best industry practices in the field of customer care. But even an ideal solution will not work smoothly if the staff has not received quality training.
Organizations struggle to train their workforce to keep up with today’s digital transformation. According to recent research, healthcare personnel spends 25.5 hours yearly on training. Whether that amount of training is enough or not depends solely on a given organization’s needs.
Adapting new programs and supervising the level of staff preparedness takes time and resources. However, it is a good investment that will pay back in a short while.
On a final note
We have outlined the steps necessary to adjust the whole software ecosystem within an ophthalmic organization. Sustainable change requires complex strategic decisions, but it also leads to rewarding results: increased software adoption as well as satisfied personnel and patients.
When you, as an owner of an ophthalmic service organization, visit your optometrists, think about new opportunities that automation uncovers for your business. Software needs to be a helpful assistant to your team, not a reason for distraction or inaccuracy. Proper planning of your technology strategy and required product development or customization can let doctors and manufacturing facilities focus on what they’re proficient in.