Rayner’s Bet on Ophthalmology’s Digital Future

Rayner’s Bet on Ophthalmology’s Digital Future by Matt Herman

As online eye care resources go parabolic, Rayner’s Peer2Peer platform is positioning itself as a next-gen nexus of premium ophthalmic content.

Word travels differently these days, and the new ways we consume information is now rattling the windows of the ivory tower of ophthalmology. Rayner’s Peer2Peer platform represents the firm’s attempt to provide a forum for doctors to interact with this new world of ophthalmic content. We sat down with Rayner’s Vice President of Marketing Christopher Willis to dissect their unique approach with Peer2Peer and how it fits in with their vision of the industry’s future.

The dissemination of medical information has traditionally been a slow, methodical and calculated drip through the mass of doctors that use it to inform their practice. Not so long ago, the latest news on drugs, devices, tools and procedures was broken along the plodding rhythm of periodicals or spread sluggishly through tight word-of-mouth networks.

That drip is now a deluge. Information floods in through the floorboards around the clock and in a dizzying array of novel forms—podcasts, videos of all stripes, multimedia articles—all piped in quite literally at the speed of light.

Companies like UK-based ophthalmic solution manufacturer Rayner know this. The race is on to adjust, adapt, and ride the crest of this wave to make sure information on their ophthalmic offerings isn’t cast adrift. Rayner’s answer is their allencompassing online clinical program and resource hub, Peer2Peer—and the company’s strategy behind the platform is a bold wager on what’s to come in eye care.

Communication break… up?

Rayner’s approach is informed by one peculiar feature of the modern consumer landscape. Buyers are relying on word-of-mouth from colleagues and experts more than ever to evaluate goods and services. For Rayner Vice President of Marketing Christopher Willis, a large part of Rayner’s Peer2Peer path is based on embracing this. “No one wants to hear from the marketing team anymore,” he noted. “They want to hear from their peers about their experience with the latest products and solutions. Peer2Peer gives them the platform to do that.”

“We are in the middle of a boom in influencer marketing, and I believe ophthalmology is as much an influencer market as any other.” — Christopher Willis, Vice President of Marketing, Rayner

Most will recognize this as the logic underpinning the modern influencer-dominated marketing economy, and Mr. Willis takes it as gospel that this approach has breached the inner sanctum of eye care. “We are in the middle of a boom in influencer marketing, and I believe ophthalmology is as much an influencer market as any other,” he observed.

“Surgeons want to know what their colleagues are doing—especially those who have a respected reputation with publications and studies,” Mr. Willis continued. “They not only want to know what they’re doing, but how they’re doing it – tips, tricks, suggestions for optimizing technology and maximizing patient satisfaction.”

Rolling the dice on decentralization

The knock here would be that the modern consumer has largely wizened up to companies essentially throwing their voice onto an army of paid influencers. But Rayner knows this, and this is where the gambit with Peer2Peer takes shape.

According to Mr. Willis, Peer2Peer is a space where clinicians and publicly available data dominate the messaging. “It’s for surgeons, by surgeons,” he stated.

“We host the platform and facilitate the content creation, but it’s the opinion and experiences of the surgeons that can be seen and heard when visiting the platform.” — Christopher Willis, Vice President of Marketing, Rayner

With their concept, Rayner doesn’t dictate what can and cannot appear on the platform. Doctors who use their products are free to create, to comment, to explore. Rayner simply acts as the middle man. “We host the platform and facilitate the content creation, but it’s the opinion and experiences of the surgeons that can be seen and heard when visiting the platform,” Mr. Willis explained.

The end result is a nexus of both clinical and experiential information from some of the top ophthalmic surgeons in the world— all collaborating to cover the topics they see as important to advance their practices.

“Peer2Peer is quite a decentralized process at Rayner,” observed Mr. Willis. “Our team members are in the field engaging with key opinion leaders. They’re listening to the market to understand what people either want to talk about or want to hear. Once we have something interesting identified, we look for experts in that field to lead the discussion.

Star power and style

Rayner’s bold approach with Peer2Peer has yielded an impressive haul of content thus far. From webinars recorded at global ophthalmic congresses to clinical research papers and interviews with all-star surgeons in a variety of languages, Peer2Peer is designed with global reach in mind.

The key offering for Mr. Willis, however, is the star-studded podcast series. Since launching in January of 2023, Peer2Peer has hosted over 30 podcast episodes, which have racked up a whopping 12,000 listens. “Some of our top-performing episodes have come from significant thought leaders in the field, such as Dr. Damien Gatinel, Prof. Gerd Auffarth, Dr. Roger Zaldivar, and Dr. Eric Donnenfeld, just to name a few,” he said.

These big names are bound to explain some of the platform’s early successes. Mr. Willis believes, however, that the philosophy behind the content is what has sustained Peer2Peer in becoming one of the most successful initiatives in eye care.

“Peer2Peer is open to all health care professionals,” he said. “This may well be one of the top performing [platforms] in the industry. We see no reason to restrict this content. A lot of what’s on there would be of benefit to every practicing ophthalmologist.

Just the beginning

Despite the runaway successes of Peer2Peer in 2023, Rayner sees the platform as constantly evolving. New features are constantly being incorporated, and the recent Peer2Peer 2.0 launch reflects the ease-of-use and accessibility ethos that defines their renowned line of IOLs.

“We have so much content now that we’ve incorporated an enhanced search function,” Mr. Willis said. “There’s also a new feature called KOL Corner, which links timestamped content to frequently asked questions, enabling those who don’t have the time to watch an entire webinar to get to the precise content they’re looking for.”

In the end, Rayner’s big bet on Peer2Peer and its unorthodox approach to the corporate relationship to content hinges on two factors. The first is that the flexibility they have built into the platform in its early stages will allow them to quickly respond to trends across the industry. “The beauty of digital is that we will continue to evolve the platform based on what we’re seeing. As habits change, we will continue to change,” Mr. Willis reflected.

The second is that the open forum they have created for discussion keeps the messaging around their products positive. But the very existence of the platform, the names attached to the content involved, and its runaway early success reflect not only Rayner’s supreme confidence in what it produces. It is also a testament to the trust thousands of doctors around the world have in the firm, and with Peer2Peer, Rayner is betting it stays that way.

 

Editor’s Note

Christopher Willis is Rayner’s Vice President of Marketing. This article was written based on an interview with Mr. Willis regarding the company’s Peer2Peer platform, for educational purposes.

 

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