Is This the New Norm?
Is Newer Better?
BY MILE BRUJIC, OD, FAAO, & DAVID L. KADING, OD, FAAO
Every day, we get new product updates in our email inboxes, publication posts, at conferences or continuing education events, or from company representatives. New products bring new concepts and new ideas. But in reality, when do new products trump the old, and what dictates when we should switch?
Learn What Makes It New
The two of us are tech junkies; if one of us hasn’t brought a new technology into one of our offices, the other most likely has. We often get first-hand experience with many of the newest contact lenses coming to market, and we usually embrace new medications as soon as we hear that they have become available.
But with that being said, not all innovations have gone through the proper inspirations. And as such, we need to look at the differentiation for a new product and determine what need that product is meeting.
As an example, let’s look at drug classes. After their allotted time, many drugs become available in generic formulations. Being a major revenue source for a company within a certain drug class, that revenue will all but run out unless the company can come out with an alternative. Most of the time, our industry partners will develop new products that are inspired and fix an old problem in a new way. But other times, they bring about products that match current standards, with the main difference being a new marketing twist. We embrace the first, but not the second after careful evaluation of the disease state, what treatment options are available, and how the new product differentiates itself.
Another example is technology for the office. At times, we bring in innovations such as electronic health records (EHRs) that are disruptive technologies initially, but are designed to solve other issues later on. Many of these technologies become non-elective at some point.
Other technologies are intended to bring new value to the practice. When evaluating new technologies, we use a simple equation: return on investment (ROI) + amount of improved care that it will provide – the level of disruption to implement and incorporate. The more positive our equation is, the more likely we are to adopt the technology.
Contact lenses and care solutions have come a long way; however, redesigning the label on a solution or changing the name of a lens does not make it better than its prior version. Companies constantly relabel themselves and their products, but putting a new wrapper on the same fast food hamburger won’t make it taste any better. Contact lenses and care solutions are no different. When a new product shows up in the office, ask yourself whether it really is a new product or a new look for an old one.
With all new technologies, do your due diligence to understand them and whether they will fill unmet patient needs. If a newer product truly fills a void and clinically improves outcomes, then newer is better and should be embraced. But, if switching for switching’s sake is the new normal, then we don’t want to be normal. CLS
Dr. Brujic is a partner of Premier Vision Group, a three-location optometric practice in northwest Ohio. He has received honoraria in the past two years for speaking, writing, participating in an advisory capacity, or research from Alcon Laboratories, Allergan, B+L, Optovue, Nicox, Paragon, SpecialEyes, TelScreen, Transitions, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Valley Contax, VMax Vision, VSP, and ZeaVision. Dr. Kading owns the Specialty Dry Eye and Contact Lens Center in Seattle. He is the co-owner of Optometric Insights with Dr. Brujic. He has received honoraria for consulting, performing research, speaking, and/or writing from Alcon Laboratories, Allergan, Bausch + Lomb, Biotissue, Contamac, Essilor, Nicox, Oculus, RPS Detectors, TearScience, Valley Contax, and ZeaVision. Follow him on Twitter @davekading.