Eye care professionals may have never had a brighter outlook. According to Modern Optometry, the American population will need 20 million more eye exams in 2025 than they did in 2015.

The good news is that new technologies can help optometrists meet the rising demand. Choosing the right options can help promote efficiency and accuracy, as well as improve the patient experience.

Eye care professionals who start planning for these upgrades today will be better positioned to ramp up their business when it’s time. Here’s help deciding how to allocate your tech budget.

1. Review your 5-year plan

It’s important that purchases align with your objectives. Here are some questions to help you identify which investments are a good match now and in the long run:

  • What kind of patient do you want to attract? Examples may include children, seniors, or people with conditions like diabetes.
  • What are your objectives for upgrading? Examples may include new services, enhanced efficiency, or improved diagnosis and treatment.
  • What might help you provide better care? Think about how technology could help reduce return visits. For instance, corneo-scleral topographers may help you identify the right contact lenses for a patient, so they won’t require multiple fittings.

  Tip  

Minimizing waiting-room time has been shown to improve patient satisfaction. Since late arrivals are a top cause of scheduling issues, consider leveraging software that sends appointment reminders via multiple channels (text, robocall, email, etc.).

2. Do a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis — which looks at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — can help you be more objective about what’s needed right now.

  • A SWOT analysis is usually done using a four-square grid. This SWOT worksheet (PDF) walks you through the process.
  • Get your staff involved in the analysis. Ask them to be specific, especially about weaknesses, and let them know that you want honest feedback.
  • Identify tech solutions that can take advantage of strengths and opportunities or address weaknesses and threats. Choose top options in each category for further investigation.

  Tip  

Once you’ve narrowed down your tech choices, think about the best timing. Some needs may be more pressing than others. Make a list of pros and cons to help you identify what to buy first.

3. Engage in some “clinical” research 

Turn to the people who know your practice and specialty, inside and out. Here are a few ways to seek input from peers and industry pros.

  Tip  

When comparing tech suggestions from staff, peers, and industry professionals, look for areas of overlap. If you’re hearing the same thing from multiple sources, that’s a good sign it’s important.

4. Look at all the costs and benefits

Improving your practice’s technology can offer long-term payoffs. It’s important to weigh all the factors (not just the financial ones) so you can make the best decisions.

  • Look at the return on investment (ROI), which compares costs and benefits. This can be tricky, as it includes both data-driven (quantitative) factors and qualitative ones (such as patient satisfaction).
  • Talk with a financial advisor who understands eye practices and can help you evaluate ROI, as well as free up capital or explore financing options.

  Tip  

Looking for a new advisor or lender? Ask candidates how much experience they have with optometric practices and if you can speak with some of their clients.

Adding new technology can be a big investment for any eye care professional. Doing some simple analyses and assessments up front can help ensure each purchase fits your budget and long-term plan.

Consider this: Use this SWOT analysis worksheet (PDF) to identify your tech strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, then compare the pros and cons to choose what to tackle first.

Sources: Vision Impact Institute, Modern Optometry, NIH study, Optometry Times, Software Advice, Strategic Thinking Institute, LivePlan

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