SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Megan Douglas, marketing manager of EYEcenter Optometric, with five offices in Northern California, has been with the practice for five years. The full service eyecare offices, even pre-pandemic, were utilizing several digital tools to help patients, including contact lens reordering and the ability to fill in some assessment forms online, a patient portal and some payment options, way before the new 2020-2021 business climate sped up other changes.

Today, EYEcenter’s Douglas said, “It’s become very clear that the practice needs to reach patients where they are, and make it easy for them to get in touch, schedule an appointment, see our selections and do it on their own time. This is something they can do from their phones, it’s a lower stress experience for them—and for us—and it also empowers the consumer.”

To that end, EYEcenter is utilizing My Frame Gallery resources, featuring virtual try-on of the frames carried at the offices, an option featured prominently on their practice homepage, and they are also using that Gallery environment to enable patients to book appointments online. “We’re definitely looking at ways to ramp things up, especially within the past year. We communicate to them often about our VTO which lets them pull together a wish list ahead of their appointment, and we tell them again when we send appointment reminders, too.”

She noted, “We have five offices and it helps those teams to pull frames from the wish lists to have ready for patients’ appointments or be able to pull other choices that are similar to those choices to help improve the experience for the patients when they get to the location.”

Douglas really likes a new feature from My Frame Gallery which enables patients to make use of Quick Response codes as well—these can be scanned and linked to images and additional information. “In fact, we just received an option to order small posters featuring the QR codes and I’ve printed several cards about these near our frame boards and, also by the front desk, which people really like,” Douglas said.

So far EYEcenter Optometric is not selling product via e-commerce on their website, but currently they’re studying the interest level and engagement of patients with the VTO and products shown online. “We’re not ruling it out but want to learn more about it,” she noted.

Douglas also added that new digital tools and online communications, including social media about them, has helped tremendously during a period when staff schedules have sometimes been impacted by the pandemic and everyone, especially the patients, want their time within in-office visits to be as valuable as possible.

“Our practice is always adapting the latest tools so that we can still give our patients the personalized service they want and expect. Our interactions can be streamlined especially when we can use it to personalize their experience with us—just as it happens on the eyecare side at our offices.”