Efficiency, Wow Factor and Increased Revenues Are Benefits of Technology


When Monica Allison, OD, was a captain in the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the “summer surge” was intense. Recruits to this large training center poured in from all around the country, and Dr. Allison recalls that her supervisor wanted each one to have a comprehensive eye exam. “It would have been almost impossible if we didn’t have the full complement of Marco technology there,” she says. “It allowed us to complete each recruit’s refraction in about 30 seconds. In fact, if it took longer than that, we were probably looking at someone with keratoconus,” she says.

It also sped up the entire process. “Prescriptions were automatically sent to the lab that made eyeglasses. So there were no transcription errors where someone unintentionally mixed up a plus or minus sign.”

Fast forward three years to the time that Dr. Allison purchased her practice in San Antonio, Texas. “The practice I bought didn’t have any Marco equipment,” she says. She bought the TRS-5100 for both of her exam lanes. When she expanded several years later, adding two full exam lanes, she also added two more TRS-5100 units.

In 2016, Stone Oak Vision Source® moved to a new facility after it had outgrown the old one and exhausted opportunities to expand there. She now has six exam lanes, and five of them are equipped with Marco. She anticipates adding Marco technology to the sixth lane.

Two prescreening rooms are each equipped with a Marco autorefractor/keratometer and a Marco lensmeter. A third prescreening room has other diagnostic technology and the visual field analyzer. The setup keeps patients moving, eliminating the bottlenecks in flow that used to occur with only one pretesting room in the older space.

The technology has benefits for the doctors physically, for the patients emotionally and for the practice financially. “I know that many ODs complain about shoulder and neck issues from years of raising their arms to work with manual phoropters,” she says. So she appreciates the ease of working with this technology, but she cites the wow factor for patients as a more direct benefit. “Patients love it.”

The financial benefits accrue in a number of areas, which can make it a little more difficult to calculate the ROI, as some aren’t easy to measure. “We have 22 employees; to expect that every one of them will write every prescription without errors every time is unrealistic. But because the data from all the Marco technology is automatically entered into my ExamWriter system and sent directly to the lab, we don’t have the transcription errors that would result in incorrect eyeglasses,” she says.

Secondly, because fine-tuning the patient’s refraction is so speedy, it allows her more time to talk to patients about the need for second pairs of eyewear, prescription sunwear, contact lenses, dry eye treatments or any other conditions that arose during her exam. Those conversations result in additional sales in the dispensary, greater awareness about her services and a higher level of patient loyalty.

Finally, the ability to show patients the difference between their current prescription and the one she’s writing has resulted in more patients updating their eyewear. “I can’t tell how much a half-diopter change might affect someone’s perception of their vision. But it’s common that as we’re showing both options, even if there’s a small numerical change, the patient says, ‘Oh, that’s so much clearer.’”