NEW YORK—From health care to retail, data has become an invaluable resource for businesses and practitioners. It’s what many see as the key ingredient to meeting, and exceeding, patients’ expectations, and it provides a critical yardstick for measuring business success. In eyecare and optical retailing, the growing interest in data also has led to an increase in the number of options partner companies are developing that collect, track and analyze the data for ECPs to draw upon to manage their practice.

From software and tech companies to alliances and large retail groups, a dashboard or other analytical tools have become part of the de facto offering to member ECPs. (Vision Monday in its October issue profiled several of the groups offering dashboard-type tools and other options for tracking practice performance in a special feature on the "Path to Purchase.")

“Data analytics is becoming increasingly more important in our practice,” said Michael Cymbor, OD, FAAO, of Nittany Eye Associates in State College, Pa. “We utilize it monthly to understand practice patterns among our optometrists. Not only does it help us maintain proper inventories of products and supplements, it helps us understand which optometrists prefer certain vendors. This is invaluable with having 12 optometrists and five offices,” he added. (Nittany Eye Associates utilizes GPN Technologies’ EDGEPro dashboard.)

Data, both big and small, can provide insight to the entire purchase process, including consumers’ needs and wants, how they make the decision to buy or not buy a product, when to buy, expectations and barriers to purchase, among other factors, according to CarCredit’s Randy Baldwin, vice president, marketing, specialty industries and retail. “The more relevant insight you have can make it easier to identify opportunities and to develop strategies to put your company and products to the best advantage,” Baldwin said.

Erin Nevelow, OD, of Nevelow Eye Associates in San Antonio, Texas, said her practice began working with The Power Practice consultants about three years ago “to help us figure out why our practice was doing good, but not great.” As part of this effort, the practice signed up with Glimpse (now ABB Analyze, powered by Glimpse) in an effort to track all of its operating data.

“Now, I check Glimpse every morning to see how we’re doing for the week, the month and the year,” she added. “It helps us set and meet goals, like increasing our frame capture rate or how many second-pair sales we are doing. It follows our contact lens sales so I can make sure that we’re selling year supplies of contacts.”

Baldwin added, “Harnessing the power of data to improve your KPIs and success is an ongoing process. Technology is enabling companies to capture so much more information, which means there’s always room to learn more."

To read more from this report on Dashboards and the Path to Purchase in the October issue of Vision Monday, click here