The Business Case for Going Digital: Why Digital Refraction Systems Are the Future of Optometry

by | Wednesday, August 3, 2016 | 0 comment(s)

The Business Case for Going Digital: Why Digital Refraction Systems Are the Future of Optometry

Throughout the years, we’ve seen the practice of optometry change drastically, with many businesses moving toward more effective, efficient exam lanes that provide greater benefits for patients, technicians and doctors.

Of these improvements, perhaps the most prominent is the switch from manual refraction systems to digital refractors.

Why Use a Digital Refraction System?

Switching from a manual to digital refraction system is a big step forward for your business. While some doctors are wary to upgrade from the familiarity of their manual system, this is a short-sighted concern compared to the long-term benefits of switching.

Made with the most advanced technology and materials, digital refractors are designed to withstand a higher caseload. Practices using digital refraction systems demonstrate their dedication to service, accuracy and state-of-the-art equipment.

Among the many benefits of digital refractors, these systems are equipped with increased capabilities, such as autolensmeters, dual cross cylinders, and EMR integration. Each piece of equipment is engineered to work seamlessly with exam lanes, and provide a number of benefits for both doctors and patients.

Accuracy, Efficiency, and Overall Satisfaction

Repetitive data entry is not only tiresome, it can also lead to a great deal of human error. Misreading a transcription can cause inaccurate prescriptions, lens remakes and a negative image in the community for inefficiency.

New digital refraction systems alleviate this problem. With a few clicks of a button, the system gives a quick, highly accurate reading that can be transmitted to the patient’s electronic medical record. This means the extensive training needed to operate pieces like the keratometers and refractors are no longer as involved and complicated, and technicians can be trained to operate some parts of the digital refraction system.

What does that do for your practice? Most importantly, it improves your patient service. Patients appreciate extra time with you; and while the overall exam time is shorter, their facetime with you is greater. If they have no questions, your patients could be in and out in as few as ten minutes—factors that greatly influence a patient’s decisions when making an appointment.

How Could an Extra $30k Each Year Affect Your Bottom Line?

The return on investment of a digital refraction system is one that is unparalleled in many offices. Your financial investment will return in more than one channel as well, from monetary returns over the years to an overall increase of your time.

Think about your ophthalmic office. If you have a one-room practice, you’ll see a high return just by adding one client each day for one year.

Let’s create an example: Say your practice sees patients 25 days each month, earns a profit of $50 per exam, and, on average, 50% of your customers need glasses—your practice making $100 on each pair of glasses. If you add one additional exam each day for the 25 days you are in business, you’ll earn an extra $1,250 on the exams and $1,250 for glasses, for a total revenue increase of $2,500 that month.

Over the course of a year, that will increase your annual revenue by $30,000.

Larger practices will see an even greater return. If you have two exam rooms, with the same $50 exam fee and $100 profit on glasses, you could see a monthly increase of $5,000—and an annual increase of $60,000. This is achieved by only adding one additional patient in each room for 25 days a month.

Think about how these increases could impact your business.

Better for your Business: A New Way to Market Yourself

Investing in a digital refraction system is a significant step toward expanding your business, and allows practices and doctors to make a shift in all areas of growth.

After purchasing a digital refraction system, you have an opportunity to reach out to patients—both new and old through a new marketing focus. Developing campaigns specific to your new digital refractor is an effective manner of sharing the new technology with prospects and patients alike.

Take the time to send out email campaigns, social media posts, promotional sales, and press releases to local news organizations. Feature an article on your website that explains the many benefits of your new equipment. In addition to articles and blog posts, publishing videos and infographics about the digital refraction system on your website will educate and attract customers. This will bring increased awareness to your practice while letting customers learn more about the field of optometry.

More Time? More Improvements

The investment in new technology is also an ideal time to update and improve many of your systems. Some doctors found their increased time allowed the practice to refocus their attention on office management, organization, and social media outreach.

Other practices use this time to upgrade their website and add an online scheduling system. This saves time for employees, and allows customers to log on and schedule their appointment at their convenience.

In today’s digital world, these small changes can make a significant impact on the way your business operates and increases your client base.

Patient Experience

While working on your new marketing campaign, it’s essential to promote how the digital refraction system directly benefits the patient.

While manual refraction systems have been the traditional system for most practices, patients typically find exams too long. The digital refraction systems, on the other hand, make exams more tolerable, not only for adults who don’t have the time to wait to complete the exam, but also for children or individuals who don’t have the attention span or physical ability to sit for an entire exam.

A scan with the new system gives patients clear advantages over exams being done with manual refraction systems:

  • Digital refraction systems are cleaner. They are easier to clean and maintain than manual systems. Any type of dullness, fogginess, or scratching can give an inaccurate reading, and digital refraction systems are designed to counter those challenges.
  • Streamlined appointments. During an exam with a manual refraction system, a great deal of time is spent performing administrative tasks, such as entering pretest data into the refractor and the medical charts. Instead of manually determining the current strength of prescription lenses, an automated lensometer gives a quick reading. The connectivity between pieces of equipment eliminates the need to continually enter in—or decipher—handwritten readings.
  • Shorter appointments. Manual adjustments and data entry takes time. With a digital refraction system, each step along the way of the exam is streamlined and efficient. That means your patients can spend more time with you.

Doctor Experience

When you became an optometrist, you likely did so because you wanted to help patients, you value eyesight, and you wanted to make a difference. Like many industries, though, you may have found administrative tasks can take away from the joy of doing what you love.

Many doctors found replacing their manual refraction system with a digital system helped them feel the same excitement and energy toward their career again. The digital system allows you to spend more time with your patients, helping them to improve their vision, and preventing or treating more serious conditions.

Additionally, a digital refraction system is one way to treat the repetitive motion disorder many optometrists experience throughout their careers. From continually flipping plates to sitting in awkward positions to reach the projectors, our profession is known for poor posture, and resulting pain. A digital refraction system, however, allows you to sit in a comfortable position with one control panel in your hands.


The workflow of a digital refraction system is a main improvement over traditional manual systems. Typically, with a manual refraction system, you and your technicians spend valuable time entering data into various systems to ensure your patients get the right readings and prescriptions. Double-checking the readings takes even longer. A digital refraction system eliminates the time spent, as the readings are taken and sent electronically to each different electronic piece.

Technicians are able to jump in after training, and the entire exam time can be greatly improved for patients.

Digital Refraction Systems: The Future of Optometry

As technology continues to advance and progress, staying up-to-date with the newest pieces, like a digital refraction system, will position your practice for long-term growth and expansion.

Digital refraction systems are the future of optometry; for your practice and your patients.

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