In the foreseeable future, practices will leave behind the concept that an eCommerce website is an independent arm of a business, tailored to interact with online customers only. At the same time, the idea that practice management systems (PMS) are solely for instore management is also likely to become redundant.
Synchronicity will be the key to success: the online customer journey steps, such as online booking, VTO, online ordering, will blend with the in-person part of the path, with the likes of eye exams and dispensing. Sooner than you can imagine, your Practice Management System (PMS) will centralize all services in a single backend for a seamless patient experience and optimized practice management.
The frictionless patient journey
Omnichannel integrates digital tools, such as online booking, eCommerce, teleconsultations, virtual try-on with the in-store exams and services and the PMS, creating a frictionless end-to-end service. As the name suggests, it offers a smooth and efficient journey to patients, removing all the roadblocks that might impede a patient from completing the customer journey and alleviates the likelihood of a negative impression along the way (4).
According to Gartner Marketing Research from 2021 (5), “frictionless omnichannel experiences need to go beyond just buying online, in-store pickup and curbside pickup, and enable a truly seamless experience for selling, serving, fulfilling and delivering.”
This ideal service for the optical industry in the future would allow patients to book appointments from a mobile device, pre-fill intake forms prior to arriving in practice, request teleconsultations, review and select frames online in advance of a visit, click and collect and a variety of other services that require a unified collaboration between multiple systems.
The traditional approach offers these services by connecting OmniChannel products to the existing Practice Management System (PMS) using a data exchange interface. This usually works well when the online facing element is a relatively straightforward step, such as booking an appointment. However, as online services increase in scope, the complexity multiplies. Consider, for instance, the relatively simple case of booking appointments online. Ideally, both PMS and online appointment booking systems should be connected in real-time, exchanging information about the appointment and the patient.