EYECARE: Optometry B2B Ordering and Tech Services for ECPs Help Boost VisionWeb’s 2020 Business By Mark Tosh Thursday, October 29, 2020 12:00 AM AUSTIN, Texas—As it turns out, 2020 is certainly going to become a memorable year for many companies and people across the optical sector. VisionWeb, based here in Austin and the leading provider of cloud-based technology services to the optical industry, is no exception. In addition to being the company’s 20th anniversary year, 2020 is turning out to be to one of the best years in terms of operational performance and account services in VisionWeb’s history, notwithstanding the lingering coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted plans of most optical firms this year. Yes, the coronavirus outbreak had “a big impact” on VisionWeb’s business, but only for a short period of time, chief executive officer Tom Loveless said in a recent interview with Vision Monday. “We experienced a huge ‘V’—and not a “U’—for our business to come back,” Loveless said. “Our business started coming back almost immediately. We are at levels [of service] that are pre-COVID now, which is significant growth over last year and even growth over January and February. This is setting us up to have a record year, assuming that those trends continue throughout the rest of the year.” VisionWeb was founded as an independent company with support from Essilor of America Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care 20 years ago with the simple philosophy of delivering the speed, efficiency and connectivity of the internet to all participants in the eyecare industry. The thought was that this would lead to enhanced productivity and profitability built upon the framework of a single resource serving and meeting the ECPs’ informational, educational, and commerce needs. It is the commitment to this business philosophy that has continued to power VisionWeb through 2020 as well as its first 20 years. “Our relationship with our customers drives the success of our business,” Loveless said. “We are continuously having conversations with ODs and members of their practice to better understand their business needs so that we can create products and services that best align with their needs and goals.” As part of this effort, VisionWeb carries out a number of “behind the scenes activities ... everyday that support the ECPs and their practice,” he added. “One example that our customers may not be aware of includes our ability to rapidly add new products to our platform so the practice can order the latest lenses, frames and contact lens for their customers. Another example is our ongoing support of practice management system connections to our ordering platform that reduces the amount of double data entry by the practice.” Connections With 450 labs Today, more than 20,000 ECPs across the U.S. and internationally use VisionWeb to place their online ophthalmic product orders. VisionWeb’s technology helps eyecare providers, laboratories, and manufacturers drive out inefficiency, increase customer satisfaction, and improve their bottom line. “We’ve added hundreds of users just in the past year or year and a half, and we’re continuing to build on top of that,” Loveless said. “Being the most successful one out there is really our intent.” Indeed, VisionWeb has processed more than 180 million online orders, and it connects with 450-plus optical labs and suppliers. The tech company’s primary purpose for the first 12 years was to provide a platform for optical ordering, which centered upon the VisionWeb.com portal. “We integrated with all of the practice management systems out there for placing orders,” Loveless said. “And we also did co-branding [for ECPs’] for product ordering.” During this time, VisionWeb’s business has grown and expanded to include an entire suite of services supporting the eyecare industry, including Uprise, an all-in-one, cloud-based EHR and practice management (PM) software for eyecare providers, and revenue cycle management (RCM) services that allow practices to outsource the claim filing and billing aspects of their practice to VisionWeb’s team of experts so they can focus more on patient care in the practice. Uprise: Updated ‘On the Fly’ Uprise was designed as a cloud-based EHR and practice management software program that can streamline office workflow, provide regulatory-compliant exam documentation, and offer insight into practice operations and performance. Uprise, which eliminates the cost of add-on services and server hardware, is updated continuously during the year. These regular updates, Loveless said, are controlled by VisionWeb from a central place, which permits making “updates on the fly.” Few, if any, competing companies can do this because of the system architecture. “If they have an update, they push an update, but everybody doesn’t get it. You have to download it, and it tends to break [other] things,” he added. Loveless acknowledged that changing EHR/PM software is a big undertaking for ECPs, but there are aspects of Uprise that make this transition smoother, such as the cloud-based technology platform that means a practice doesn’t need to maintain and secure a service in-house. “Another thing that ODs tend to really appreciate about Uprise is the ease of use and intuitive design that makes training their staff quick and efficient so they can get started with the system quickly,” he said. The optical ordering platform continues as VisionWeb’s primary business line, with Uprise and revenue cycle management completing its offerings, Loveless said. The RCM is “practice management agnostic, so it doesn’t matter whether you are using Uprise or any of the other competitors,” Loveless said. VisionWeb can manage an ECP’s account regardless of the PM software they utilize. “Basically, we help the doctors get paid twice as fast, and we help them reduce their rejects and denials,” he added. “They are going to get paid for the services they have provided. We do a whole host of things…and even train their staff on better understanding of benefits.” Today, VisionWeb continues to pioneer technology that enables the eyecare industry to automate business processes and increase efficiency. It prides itself on creating an open and neutral exchange on the internet by working with eyecare professionals, suppliers, laboratories, software providers, and other industry leaders. One of the company’s objectives going forward is to build more awareness for Uprise so it’s as recognized by ECPs as the older, more established ordering platform that VisionWeb is best known. (VisionWeb has been recognized with Vision Monday and 20/20 Magazine’s Readers’ Choice EyeVote award in the online ordering category for nine consecutive years.) The firm is working on new marketing strategies that “really cast the net a lot broader and wider” than current efforts, Loveless said. At the end of the day, VisionWeb’s mission continues to focus on one central theme: to make things easier for the doctors/ECPs to do business, Loveless noted. “That’s it in a nutshell, and that’s what we think about when we are talking about any new service. How can we improve the life of the doctor and his/her office staff?” The company’s next 20 years is sure to depend on this idea.