Eyecare Gets 'Mobil-eyezd'

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In the digital communications world, the momentum toward mobile is building to a tidal wave.

By all expert accounts, 2013 is promising to be the year when culture, entertainment, health care and business communications and marketing shift toward the access of information, commerce and services from all forms of digital “screens.” And the implications for health care and eyecare professionals and optical retailers are major.

The research and pace of change is lightning fast. Information from the Pew’s Internet & American Life Project and Vodaphone reveals the following facts

  • Among adults 18 years and older, laptop, smartphone and tablet usage is on the rise, while desktop PC usage is starting to decline. (see chart, page 42).
  • In 2011, 48 million people used their mobile devices to access maps.
  • In 2011, users check their mobile phones, on average, 120 times per day.
  • Tablet sales grew from 17 million in 2011 to 70 million in 2012.
  • By 2013, websurfing on a PC will be overtaken by websurfing on a mobile phone.
  • By 2013, nearly 50 billion apps will have been downloaded.
  • One in four consumers have made a purchase with their mobile phone.

The impact of mobile is also transforming intra office communications among doctors and their peers, doctors and patients.

David Gweipel, of the media firm Qwasi, described the big trend as ‘SoLoMo,’ or ‘social,’ ‘local’ or ‘mobile.’ These are the trends that will drive companies’ digital communications so that they can expand the number of ‘touch points” with their target consumers. The implications for businesses, as well as for health care professionals, he said, is to make sure that their web presence also involves a mobile strategy.

Gweipel explained, “Mobile sites are optimized across multiple mobile phones and tablets. While the average cell phone user is only moderately engaged with the mobile web, tablet users are highly connected these days. Texting is taking on more importance, so sites need to be optimized to function via mobile. And apps are gaining ground.”

The advent of mobile is changing the way patients are interacting with doctors and how eyecare professionals are extending their connections to their current patients as well as in the hunt for finding new patients.

Back in June of this year, EyeCarePro.net, which develops websites and advises ECPs about digital media, conducted a retroactive analysis of its website data on mobile device usage to access its customer websites. As Michael Porat, COO, noted, “Our data indicated that use of mobile devices to access data of eyecare websites was climbing.”

EyeCarePro recently revisited that data and reviewed over 100,000 optometric practice website visits from across a sample of its customers’ sites. Porat said, “While in June, we indicated that our optometric sites showed that almost 15 percent of visitors came from mobile devices, our September findings show an increase to 18 percent. This is a big jump and shows the trend accelerating. We found that iPhone users accounted for 45 percent of these visits (compared with 39 percent) of the visits in June. iPad visits accounted for 24 percent of site visits and iPad users’ page visits and visit duration are almost twice those of other device users.”

EyeCarePro has, in fact, predicted a 50 percent growth in mobile traffic in each of the next three quarters bringing mobile visits to 50 percent of all website traffic by the end of the first quarter, 2013, Porat said.

He advised, “It’s important that ECPs prepare their practice and their online marketing approach for this growing body of mobile users. Your website content and features should be more mobile friendly. Make sure your address, location map, and phone number are easily accessible.”

On the following pages, VM highlights some of the apps now available to help ECPs capitalize on the mobile explosion and innovate in the way they bring their patients through the eyecare process.