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Saturday 20th August, 2022

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Telehealth: an exciting new segment for franchising opportunity

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Telehealth: an exciting new segment for franchising opportunity

For many consumers, eye care simply can’t wait. Here’s how to get involved with this technologically-driven sector

For many consumers, eye care simply can’t wait. Here’s how to get involved with this technologically-driven sector.

When the world was forced to shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses worldwide had to quickly rethink their business models that adhered to strict health and safety guidelines, which for better or for worse, meant “out with the old and in with the new.” For Now Optics and its retail brands My Eyelab, the pandemic pivot consisted of shifting the eyecare coverage to focus solely on telehealth.

As lockdowns first went into effect, the CDC recommended optometrists to stop seeing patients because of close contact. Thankfully, Now Optics’ in-house telehealth technology had been in development since 2016, and is every bit as effective as an in-person eye exam, so it was able to stay open and immediately switch to an in-store telehealth hybrid model.

During a time of uncertainty, Now Optics was prepared for the situation with telehealth because it was solution-oriented and ahead of the times; ultimately signaling that the future was now, and the brand was there for its patients and employees every step of the way.

Telehealth allows patients to receive a personalized eye care treatment plan and prescription without face-to-face interaction with the doctor. Instead, an on-site, trained technician captures all the pre-test measurements while a built-in national network of doctors can remotely assess the results and provide a prescription.

Customers are then at liberty to choose from a huge selection of affordable frames or contact lenses. Not only has this allowed community members to receive eyecare during a crisis when many eyecare providers have turned away patients, but it has also allowed many local employees to keep their jobs.

A new normal means new opportunities

For an industry like eyecare that hadn’t changed all that much in 100 years, telehealth provides a unique opportunity to offer a service that others could not during a time when it was needed most.

It’s a new and safe business model that keeps stores open, franchisees running their businesses, employees employed, and patients cared for in a way that’s pandemic-friendly. Over 200 locations nationwide offer the telehealth platform, which has performed over 1.6 million eye examinations to date.

My Eyelab is the only vision care franchise that has developed a proprietary telehealth system, transforming and simplifying the retail eye care experience. The national network of doctors that powers this unique eye care model is at the center of its success. Having doctors available every hour the store is open enables eye exam availability for customers. This is a big competitive advantage, given the usual industry standard two weeks it takes to see a doctor.

All franchisees have access to the proprietary telehealth software system. Telehealth immediately clicked with existing and prospective franchisees, which they herald as an innovative business model that will be attractive to future investors trying to see what business opportunities will be viable in our current economic environment.

It allows an investor without a background in optical to scale a business in the industry. If you combine the fact that eye care is recession-proof with Now Optics’ cutting-edge telehealth software, you have a recipe for success with or without a pandemic.

The demand for innovative care

Roughly 75 per cent of Americans need corrective eyewear, so there is certainly consumer demand in this industry. Continued growth will likely come from very well thought out customer care, especially due to COVID, as well as technological innovation, and that’s where telehealth comes in.

The technological advancements of telehealth are meant to make the eye exam experience more consistent, convenient, faster, and affordable without ever compromising quality. That’s the future of optical retail and My Eyelab is already at the forefront of that. Eyecare is an essential service that millions of people with vision issues can’t live without.

“Telehealth allows patients to receive a personalized eye care treatment plan and prescription without face-to-face interaction with the doctor”

The future is now – embrace it

As business owners continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, it’s an ideal time for the entrepreneurial-minded to look into becoming their own boss. Finding a franchise that is recession-resilient and can adapt to challenges should be a key consideration during the research process. Optical retail has the luxury of being an essential business that can operate locations nationwide and serve community members safely.

Thanks to telehealth and the need for products and services, franchisees can depend on a successful business model that performs well during even the most challenging economic circumstances. The path to success is very straightforward to understand. Not only is it a business model that’s going to work for a year or two, it’s a concept that you can easily see working for the length of the franchise agreement.

In addition to providing essential products and services to the community, telehealth is a sustainable, simple operation. With a small staff, reasonable hours, fewer headaches and a high margin, telehealth has the ability to bring in a strong ROI for franchisees.

My Eyelab’s proprietary telehealth platform delivers on its mission of making eye care easy, and it provides the flexibility to easily enhance the experience based on direct patient, staff, and doctor feedback.

Therefore, Now Optics is always in innovation mode with telehealth, working to improve the platform experience through new technology and software. It aims to streamline the process to make it more efficient and consistent without compromise.

The future of telemedicine is incredibly exciting. With rapidly advancing technology, increased accessibility to healthcare for underserved and remote communities, increased level of care, personalization of care and improved cost, it is the future for optical retail and franchising.

The author

Dr. Brad Brocwell is vice president of clinical operations for Now Optics, which includes retail brands Stanton Optical and My Eyelab

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