What I have learned

“We needed to be more disruptive to reach our target audience”

Brand manager for Alcon UK & Ireland, Eddie Pigott, and Eyekandy chief marketing officer, Garrett Albanese, on taking patient support to an augmented reality platform

woman on smartphone

What led you to consider launching an augmented reality platform alongside the Precision1 launch?

Eddie Pigott, brand manager, Alcon UK & Ireland (EP): Research shows that contact lens drop out is still an issue, especially in the first three months. We also found that patients could have difficulties, but they may not contact their eye care professional (ECP). However, practitioners often reach out to us for support tools to share with their patients, including videos.

For Alcon, using the Precision1 patient support programme powered by augmented reality was an opportunity to provide support to both ECPs and patients entering contact lens wear.

We wanted to provide support that was available 24–7 and easily accessible by scanning a QR code that engages patients throughout their journey. We saw in other markets that apps or simple websites were not the ideal way to engage patients. So, we needed to be more disruptive to reach our target audience who are young and active and use mobile phones for everything – this is why augmented reality was the ideal technology to deliver a great support programme to both patients and ECPs.

How has it performed since its launch?

EP: We’ve received great feedback on the content as ECPs see the true value for their patients, especially in the first weeks of contact lens wear. Some have said that in the past, they offered patients links to videos and websites, but this platform groups together everything they need. It is the one-stop shop they have been waiting for.

What do you think is important about providing this support beyond the practice?

EP: Practitioners have said that following up with contact lens patients is sometimes challenging during their trial period, and patients do not always reach out to their ECP when they have questions or concerns.

Through our Precision1 patient support programme powered by augmented reality, the wearer is transported into an immersive experience where they will be supported on key areas like how to apply and remove their lenses, myth busting, and hints and tips for successful contact lens wear.

ECPs are particularly busy coming out of lockdown and have a backlog of patients. This patient support programme will allow them to refer patients to these tools whilst they are in practice being coached on application and removal, and while at home during their trial period, so that the practitioner can focus on their patient waiting list.

What were the key themes or considerations you kept in mind when creating the platform?

EP: When developing the Precision1 patient support programme, we defined two clear sections, one for wearers (or potential wearers) and one for ECPs. New, young contact lens wearers were at the heart of the programme. We really focused on how they think, the questions they have around contact lenses, even their word choice and intonation. These choices were pulled through – even in the ECP section – so that they would use the same language with their patients.

What do you think makes the platform unique?

EP: The platform engages contact lens wearers in a journey. The Precision1 pack opens up to present an avatar to guide them through their experience in four different key areas:

  • The Fact not fiction area. This space is designed for those patients who are thinking about contact lenses. It includes helpful videos to help bust the myths about contact lenses and overcome the fear of wearing them for the first time
  • We then move to The learning lab. Here we help to bring the science of Precision1 to life for patients, as well as providing a whistle-stop session for those that want to know about the history of contact lenses
  • When trying a lens for the first time, who better to hear from than people who have already experienced Precision1 contact lenses? Precision1 lowdown contains videos to help patients understand what it is like to wear the contact lenses, directly from the experts
  • For patients who are trialing Precision1, we invite them to the Rock your lenses area. Here they will find video support on how to handle lenses, a Q&A carousel covering the questions contact lens wearers frequently ask, as well as some of the contact lens mistakes to avoid.

What have you taken away from this experience, about the potential applications for technology such as AR in optometry and the contact lens sector in particular?

EP: Although the evolution of technology is hard to predict as it is moving incredibly fast, and our new contact lens wearers are younger and tech savvy, we need to anticipate what our consumers expect.

We are seeing more applications of augmented reality in daily life, all designed to engage consumers around an experience, so though disruptive today in eye care, there are still many avenues to explore in optometry.

New, young contact lens wearers were at the heart of the programme. We really focused on how they think, the questions they have around contact lenses, even their word choice and intonation

Eddie Pigott, brand manager, Alcon UK & Ireland

What do you think AR offers in engaging consumers? And how do you think it can particularly engage and educate patients in this sector?

Garrett Albanese, Eyekandy chief marketing officer (GA): In an augmented reality experience, patient communication seamlessly moves from what is often a linear and static education series to a fully immersive journey that allows for the discovery of information in an interactive format. This allows a healthcare company to centralise a full suite of disparate, yet relevant assets into an experience that is a new way to engage the patient.

Augmented reality has moved beyond the novelty factor (ie PokemonGo) and now has very real life practical applications in patient care. Companies like Alcon can leverage multiple triggers to assist anyone, ranging from ECPs to patients.

What do you think consumers/patients particularly enjoy about engaging with companies, information and education through AR, such as in Alcon’s project?

GA: Eyekandy has run our own proprietary research to understand consumer engagement with AR. Through our findings, we have discovered the following:

  • 67.6% of people would engage with interactive AR product packaging if provided to them
  • 70.33% of people are more likely to buy a product if offered a relevant AR experience.

Unlike 'traditional digital' forms of content, AR offers a fully immersive and non-linear experience that allows users to go deeper into educational materials from brands. The attention of each individual user is also amplified, with attention levels 45% higher than with traditional media channels like video and print. This multimedia/multi-sensory format meets the new behaviour of users, who have become accustomed to being surrounded by content in their daily media consumption, i.e. social media, TV, voice, print, etc. AR simply modernises a brand’s omnichannel strategy in one centralised experience.

What have you taken away from this project experience?

GA: Technology has advanced in such a way over the past 18 months that patients no longer need to download an app to activate augmented reality. This was a significant barrier that has been eliminated in patient education – allowing healthcare companies to scale activations quickly. For this project specifically, it has shown our team at Eyekandy what a delight it is to work with such a forward-thinking company like Alcon that puts the patient and ECP first in their effort.

What is the benefit of removing the need to download an app?

GA: WebAR technology (augmented reality experiences directly in a browser) removes the friction of a user needing to download an app to engage with an experience, this drastically increases the engagement numbers as the experience can be activated instantly.