There are often stories about machines doing jobs once done solely by human beings. Robots have taken over certain jobs in the manufacturing arena. Computer programs can write articles (though I like to think not as good as humans). The web and various apps claim to provide eye exams. So, does this mean patients will look for automated procedures and place a lower value on the care you deliver in your offices?

The good news, however, is that this seems less likely than you might expect. Advances in technology don’t replace the doctor patient relationship. They enhance it, and patients still value their in-person experience. This is according to findings from CooperVision’s Best Practices EYEdea Lab. A panel at the Global Contact Lens Forum at Vision Expo West presented findings from the inaugural EYEdea Lab, which combined qualitative research on the floor of Optometry’s Meeting in June with follow-on quantitative research among consumers and ECPs.

When asked which sources they most trust to recommend and explain the best options for their eye health and vision correction needs, the overwhelming majority (87%) of consumer respondents selected their ECPs, not online medical sites and news reports. Also, the research found that they choose to visit their practices for something different than what’s available online, meaning you don’t have to try to duplicate what’s advertised on the web.

Still, technology is important. Quantitative survey results showed that 92% of ECPs believe that their patients perceive more value when there is more technology incorporated into the exam process, but 82% of ECPs consider online refraction a threat to their practices. However, 66% of consumers surveyed believe online testing is less accurate, and 20% are unsure.

The other thing about technology, as Sharokh Kapadia, OD, FAAO, tells us in this month’s cover story, is it lets you practice more efficiently without sacrificing patient care or even interaction with your patient.

Last month, Frank Fontana, OD, better known as “Uncle Frank,” passed away at age 96. By now, you’ve no doubt read about his many accomplishments. He served in the army during World War II, opened an optometric practice (and practiced into his 90s), founded the American Optometric Association’s Contact Lens & Cornea Section, co-founded the Heart of America Contact Lens Society, served on various AOA committees, consulted, and lectured, received various honors … the list goes on.

He was also a husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather—and, of course, everbody’s uncle. In 1993, when I heard a colleague talking to “Uncle Frank,” I then learned that Uncle Frank was actually an optometrist in St. Louis and that we were all his nieces and nephews.

Sure enough, when I met him a few months later, he immediately told me to call him Uncle Frank. It was official; I was his nephew. He not only mentored many ODs but a newbie optometric editor who was trying to understand the world of eyecare, especially contact lenses. I could always count on Uncle Frank to explain things to me, to point out up-and-coming ODs, and to steer me to the right resources in industry.

Most of all, though, seeing him became a favorite part of every optometric conference I attended. His energy exceeded that of many younger people. He was in his element as an emcee on the exhibit hall floor. He told great stories. And, he had a kind word to say about pretty much anybody. He was just a kind person in general.

Optometric Office extends condolences to his immediate family and to his many nieces and nephews for their loss. Rest in piece, amico.

Jeffrey Eisenberg | Editor-In-Chief |


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