Whether your optometry practice has a hometown, mom and pop feel or you are positioned for the urban, trendy scene, you need to be aware of the wave of change happening in the consumer world. The pace of the digital world is advancing at warp speed and if you aren’t prepared to adapt your practice technology and to stay on top of the trends, you will quickly find yourself standing alone and obsolete as the dust clears all around you.
If you are thinking that you are in the know because your practice has a Facebook presence, think again. Not only is social media changing at a rapid pace (have you upgraded your Facebook business page since the new Timeline format came out? If not, check out our blogpost on upgrading your Optometry Facebook Page to Timeline) but the mode of connecting to it is also evolving.
A recent study showed that in 2011, the number of smartphones purchased in the US exceeded the number of personal computers sold. Projections are that this trend will become the norm – that the worldwide conversion to smartphones will be quick and that mobile devices, including tablets, will surpass PC sales globally within 2-3 years.
Why do these facts matter to the OD?
The answer lies in what people are doing on their mobile devices. Consumers are not only using mobile in similar ways that they use a PC such as consuming content (including health information), searching for goods and services (such as the best local optometrist), making purchases, using social media, looking at ads etc… But mobile also adds an entire new and unique platform that people are using that is unique to mobile- apps. According to the research, apps are now a $10 billion market and growing at 100% per year. Apps that combine mobile with social functions and other popular uses such as Instagram for photos (which has over 30 million users and was purchased last week by Facebook for $1 billion merely 17 months after its launch) and DrawSomething for games, have been growing at astronomical rates.
Now we are not proposing that you drop patient treatment to go launch a really exciting, interactive optometry app, in fact, we would discourage this (more on this to come) but it is important to know that people are moving away from their PC’s and toward their mobile devices and that they want to interact while they are there.
This may not have any practical implications for you right this minute, but it is essential to keep in mind. If you aren’t already sending appointment reminders by text, why not? Take a few minutes to check out the apps available and see which, if any, could improve the ease and image of your office procedures. Consider purchasing an iPad for patient use in your waiting area. Most importantly, be aware that consumerism is moving mobile and therefore if you want to be relevant, you should be where your patients are.