Software-based vision kiosks help generate new patients
Self-assessing vision testing kiosks by SoloHealth, located in drug stores, supermarkets and shopping malls in four major U.S. cities, are helping motivate potential patients to seek comprehensive eye exams. The EyeSite Vision Kiosk is an interactive software-based screening service that educates users on eye health and puts them in contact with a local practitioner.
Founder and CEO Bart Foster first introduced the self-service vision screening kiosk in Atlanta as a way to educate potential patients about eye health and encourage them to schedule a regular eye exam with an eye care practitioner. Now also available in St. Louis, Birmingham and Houston, SoloHealth’s kiosk uses mirrors and software to screen patients and provide them with an accurate assessment of their vision.
Image: Foster B
“The program is software-based, and for distance vision it uses a series of mirrors to simulate a long optical path to compare what you see in the distance to what you see near,” Mr. Foster said in an interview with Primary Care Optometry News. “We’re only using visual acuity as the hook to get someone to sit down. Once they do and they answer a series of questions, it’s the video, audio and content that make it a rich experience and help motivate someone to get a full eye exam.”
Process of vision assessment
The 5-minute vision screening is free and consists of informational videos, a questionnaire and options to choose an eye care practitioner, Jack Schaeffer, OD, told PCON.
“These are unique screening kiosks where individuals can step into this booth — almost like the old photo booth — that’s operated using extremely sophisticated software,” Dr. Schaeffer said. “They watch a video on eye care and then they take an eye exam that’s pass or fail. Then it lists all our doctors in the area.”
The kiosks in Birmingham list Schaeffer Eye Center doctors only, Dr. Schaeffer said.
According to the SoloHealth Web site, the kiosk initially gives users the option to take the vision test, request an appointment with an eye doctor or learn more about eye health. If they’ve selected the vision test, users are asked a series of lifestyle questions before the kiosk assesses near vision by asking the user to read different-sized paragraphs of text and determine how easy or difficult it was to see.
The kiosk next tests distance vision, asking the user to look above the screen into a distance viewer showing a series of letters at different sizes to simulate distance. Once the screening is complete, the user will be asked additional questions about their vision and eye care habits before being presented with a doctor directory.
According to Mr. Foster, partnerships with EyeMaginations, Transitions Optical, Optos and CIBA Vision have contributed valuable information and financial resources to sponsor a number of kiosks. These companies have sponsored kiosks in the St. Louis and Kansas City markets.
“EyeMaginations provides eye health awareness and educational content to enhance the user experience and promote eye health,” Mr. Foster said. “The primary reason for working with them is to try to educate people of the importance of their eyes to overall health; their 3D animations help enhance that content and motivate consumers to see an eye care practitioner. CIBA Vision and Transitions help with some of the content, and they provide some input. They also have some promotional messages that they can put in the kiosks.”
Locating a kiosk
According to Mr. Foster, SoloHealth is expected to expand into two additional markets later this year. Optometrists and ophthalmologists who are interested in having a kiosk installed in their area can contact SoloHealth through its Web site.
“Right now we’re an early stage company and we have a lot of demand; we’re trying to filter through and look for groups of practices in different areas of the country that might want to use these kiosks to grow their businesses,” Mr. Foster said. “We like to work through groups — such as a buying group, optometric association or affiliation — so we can reach multiple practices in a given geography.”
While practicioners are charged a fee to be listed, one of the benefits of signing up to appear in the kiosk physician directory is the opportunity to advertise your practice, Dr. Schaeffer said.
“There is a fairly robust number of people who go through the screening … more than I expected,” he said. “It’s a pretty unique way for optometrists who generally do not advertise to promote themselves. These kiosks are a community service, and it’s clear during the test that it is not an eye exam, just a screening.”
For more information:
- Bart Foster, CEO and founder of SoloHealth, developer of the EyeSite Vision Kiosk, can be reached at 11555 Medlock Bridge, Suite 190, Duluth, GA 30097; (770) 622-4158; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.solo-health.com.
- Jack Schaeffer, OD, can be reached at Schaeffer Eye Center, P.O. Box 1310, Trussville, AL 35173; (888) 987-2020; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: www.schaeffereyecenter.com. Dr. Schaeffer has a direct financial interest in SoloHealth kiosks.