Embracing Technology

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO July 05, 2012

I have had the pleasure of riding in a lot of taxi cabs in my frequent travels. It seems that everyone is embracing technology…even the taxis. Check out this partial list: GPS, surveillance cameras, digital taxi meters, credit card machines, iPod docking, cell phone charging, and, my favorite, the electronic coffee cup heater. I am still waiting for the select comfort seats—but clearly technology has reached the taxi industry.

As we all know, technology is advancing at break neck speed in optometry. And clearly, it is changing the expectations of patients who are now continuously connected to the Internet. To remain relevant, we must be able to understand and relate to the connected patient.

Let me give you a few statistics. 78% of adults use the Internet, and 71% have gone online to research and purchase products. 44% of adults own smart phones and 79% of those use their phones for shopping and price comparison. There are now over 200 online optical retailers, and online glasses sales are skyrocketing for companies like Coastal.com. Another retailer, Warby Parker, is promoting at home frame try-ons. Their most recent promotion is “5 pairs, 5 days, 100% free.” Whew! Things have changed!

I think we need to ask ourselves: “How do we compete?” “What is our strategy for addressing all of this technological change?” “How do we get started?”

I would like to invite you to attend a VSP Town-hall Meeting where you can learn about the latest technologies and things you can do to help you compete in the new connected marketplace. So, check out the list of upcoming Town-hall Meetings. You can look forward to an energetic exchange of information and an expanded view of our industry.

As I see it, we need to develop a strategy for addressing technology if our practices are to prosper, and we need to get with it. Trying to react after the taxi has left the station just will not get it done.

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