After installing the state-of-the art Phoroptor® VRx Digital Refraction System from Reichert®, everyone at Dr. D. M. Fitzgerald and Associates in Cedar Rapids, Iowa felt like a winner. Kacie Monroe, OD, FCOVD, has been an associate at the practice for nearly 10 years, and once they learned about the perks of the device, they made the switch.
For a period of about five years, DeAnn Fitzgerald, OD, was the only doctor using an automated refraction system in two of her exam lanes. As the practice grew, she realized she needed to remodel and expand to meet her patients’ needs and expectations. She knew a key element to the expansion would be adding that technology in all exam lanes. “I appreciate the difference that an automated system could provide. But I also wanted one that was intuitive so that I could make the transition seamlessly. Reichert offered us what we wanted,” says Dr. Fitzgerald.
When the practice expanded, each of the 10 exam lanes was outfitted with a Phoroptor VRx. “I noticed the speed at which technicians could get patients into the exam rooms was faster once we made the switch,” says Dr. Monroe. Since the patient information is transferred automatically, Dr. Monroe and her colleagues have found that there is less potential for human error in transcription. “The refractions are better and faster, and patients can see the differences,” she says. “I love the feature where they can see the change [from] where their prescription was last year and where they are today. Patients see that and say ‘Oh, I need new eyeglasses!’” Because of that popular feature, the practice’s optical has been even more successful and busy.
A BETTER EXAM MEANS A BUSIER OPTICAL
The patients are by no means the only ones enjoying this new piece of equipment. The doctors and opticians benefit from the advanced technology as well. For Dr. Monroe, the device has not just maximized her patient traffic, but enabled a more personalized patient experience. She is now able to spend more time with her patients to address their specific needs. In particular, she has the time to make more detailed recommendations for their eyewear. “Now, by the time they get to the optical, they want antireflective lenses or computer eyewear. We showed them what a computer lens looks like.”
The result is a smoother handoff due to a more educated patient and more glasses being ordered correctly, the first time. The optical staff is better able to present add-on options that the patient already saw the benefit of in the exam chair. “It makes the opticians’ jobs so much easier. They don’t have to sell a patient on an idea because I brought up the medical needs and benefits in the exam room,” she says. “It’s easier.” An easier transition to the optical shop means a higher conversion rate and more than one pair of eyewear being purchased per patient.
LONG-TERM BENEFITS FOR DOCTORS
There is an even more personal benefit attributed to the device; protecting the ODs physical well-being. “I had a mentor tell me that I needed a right-handed exam lane and left-handed exam lane so I don’t wear out my shoulder,” she says. She started experiencing shoulder pain and fatigue after just the two years of using a manual refractor. “The Phoroptor VRx has eliminated the need to go to the chiropractor as often. I don’t feel as off-balance,” she says. “It’s nice to know I will be able to avoid the longer-term consequences like chronic pain and surgery.”
A practice this large needs to keep a steady and constant patient flow. With each doctor having designated rooms, it allows them to customize the Phoroptor VRx to their preferred presets. Dr. Monroe, for example, sees lots of pediatric patients, so her Phoroptor VRx and ClearChart® 4 are programmed to first bring up the pediatric eye chart or show a movie at the push of a button.
With these customizable settings, the doctors and technicians are able to perform everything they need for each patient in a single room, leaving fewer areas to sanitize and turn over. In fact, early in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients found great comfort in the distance the Phoroptor VRx provided. “I could tell them that I’d be standing several feet away, and I could even turn my body away from the patient,” she says. Emphasizing both the care and the cautions that the practice delivers help patients feel more comfortable and confident in the results and their overall experience.
The overall benefits of the Phoroptor VRx has greatly surpassed staff expectations. Faster, more accurate exams allow for more face time with patients, so better, more personalized recommendations can be talked through, resulting in more eyewear being purchased and an overall satisfied patient. Performing an exam while seated at a small and intuitive controller means less cleaning from shuffling patients to and from multiple rooms and keeping the staff in better shape by eliminating the need to stand over a manual refractor. The choice to go digital was obvious.