Being an active member of the profession for over 25 years, I have seen so many changes. Some elements are essentially the same, while others have shown revolutionary changes which demonstrate that our industry is constantly evolving in order to provide a higher quality of care and value to our patients and customers.
As a passionate optometrist, business owner and technophile, there is one thing that has revolutionised the way I work and practise and something that I just can’t live without. It’s the internet.
The World Wide WebThe internet is now a necessity for work. Even before I start my working day, the internet is essential to my professional life: communication, business management, marketing and admin, developing my knowledge and training, analysing patient and examination information and professional networking.
Many of these functions have been steadily converging. Platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram allow us to communicate, market, network and learn at the same time.
“The internet is now a necessity for work. Even before I start my working day, the internet is essential to my professional life”
Most lines of communication are now firmly embedded in the internet. This includes email, WhatsApp and telephone. The practice telephone runs over the internet and allows me to take and place calls from anywhere in the world, while giving the appearance that I’m still in the local practice. This allows me to integrate information quicker and provide a more seamless and personalised service and experience to patients. We can respond quickly and easily to queries and questions through multiple networks.
Business management and marketing is another area where the internet is invaluable. I can manage banking services and payments remotely.
Most of our marketing is managed through the internet using a variety of channels; from communication with providers to attracting patients, a significant (and growing) segment is through the internet.
I can manage business data from anywhere in the world. Information about products, catalogues and ordering is now instant, highly visual and convenient over the internet.
Patient benefits from the net
The internet now allows me to have access to clinical patient data easily and seamlessly in practice. Our use of paper has reduced significantly.
My consulting room computer is an internet hub for digital images and biometric data that has been taken in practice. These can be seen and shared around the world instantaneously (obviously with the appropriate security, consent and permissions). This allows me to garner expert opinion, advice and discussion whenever I need it. Similarly, I have shared my knowledge and support to other practitioners over the internet, even those on the other side of the world.
“The internet was designed for connecting computers to talk to each other, but now it has evolved into a medium to allow individuals to connect and talk to each other all over the world in a way that’s never been seen before”
One of the most exciting ways that the internet has become indispensable in my professional life is through the amazing professional networks that I have connected with over digital channels. Interacting with others who have the same interests and passions in the various facets and specific pursuits within optometry is exciting and stimulating.
I have developed new information, skills and ways to practise from the experience and knowledge of others. I have received reassurance and support from practitioners and professionals who have been through similar journeys.
The most rewarding part of these networks is that I have been able to use my understanding and expertise to help others in need too, whether they are people in the industry, allied professionals or patients all over the world.
The internet was designed for connecting computers to talk to each other, but now it has evolved into a medium to allow individuals to connect and talk to each other all over the world in a way that’s never been seen before.
Image credit: Getty/Urupong