By Beth Robinson
One of the most challenging parts of a health care professional’s job is explaining complex information about conditions and treatment to patients and making sure the patient has the right information when they get home.
It is a frustration that optometrist Dr. Ryan Corte faces regularly. Last spring he had a patient come in about blurry vision in his left eye. It turned out that he hadn’t seen a doctor in years and had very advanced diabetic retinopathy and wasn’t even aware he had diabetes.
“As I was explaining to him the likelihood that he had undiagnosed diabetes, I could see the look on his face how perplexed he was that glasses, at that time, were not a likely solution to his problem. I referred him to a see a primary care doctor as well as retinal specialist. But he never went to either appointment,” says Corte. “I felt like in that moment, when I was educating him, it was almost overwhelming. I think of how many doctors are seeing more patients in less time and the amount of time they have to educate their patients is too little. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to break things down so the patient understands it, so they can follow up appropriately and they can follow through with success.”
Corte wished that there was a simple, video-based resource that he could send her and other patients to for information, but that resource wasn’t out there. So, he created his own.
A photography buff, Corte was one of the few people who had a digital camera in college. He says his passion for photography transferred to video when he realized that it was a great way to educate his patients. He did his research on YouTube, watching videos to see what would be the best format for him and how to set up his production.
The result was a website — now defunct — called Introeyes.com. Founded by Corte, who is also the CEO, the site featured 30- to 90-second videos that provided information on terminology, conditions, preventative care, disease management, products and services. The topics ranged from “What is an optician?” to “What is Keratoconus?” In the videos, eye care professionals explain each topic briefly, in clear and simple language, with appropriate photos or diagrams. The videos, which are all hosted on YouTube, are close captioned and each has a transcript below it.
Introeyes has since been replaced with a more broadly based health and wellness site called Introwellness.com.
Because the education level of his patients varies dramatically, Corte’s goal was to write the content at an elementary level.
Corte believes that video-based content is the wave of the future.
“Our vision and our general viewpoint on where we’re going is big,” Corte said. I think we definitely have a very good start. More and more generations are beginning to shift to wanting info digitally.”
“You have to walk before you can run,” says Corte, who got Introeyes.com up and running in approximately two months. He is a self-taught video producer, developing the scripts with a team of eye care experts, mostly in the Concord area, but now branching out across the country. The simple format makes it easy for the professionals to shoot the video themselves, and Corte edits them, and adds photos and graphics to the footage of the professional explaining the subject.
His goal was a simple, professional-looking presentation.
“I built it into my schedule to learn to use the Adobe tools,” says Corte, who devotes one day each week to developing the site. “It’s like riding a bike, the learning curve is pretty steep, but once you learn how, you know.”
All that work paid off with a recent win in the Skimm email newspaper’s Moving On Up startup competition. From a nation-wide pool of entrepreneurs, Corte lasted into the semi-final round of 10, was flown out to Seattle for the final round of 3 competitors, and ultimately won a $2,500 cash prize, 6 months of financial mentoring from Chase Bank, and 6 months of startup mentoring from the Skimm.
He used the money and the mentoring help to take the site to the next level, ultimately deciding to retire the Introeyes site and integrate all of the content on the Introwellness.com, which already has content on eye care, nutrition, and men’s and women’s health, and is constantly growing.
Corte grew up in Michigan, where teaching may have been coded into his DNA. His mother and one of his three older sisters are high school teachers there, and another sister teaches at the University of Chicago Hospital. His father just retired from Hewlett Packard, where he was a computer consultant. Explaining things, it seems, is a family affair.
Corte attended Michigan State University, went to Ohio State University for optometry school, and then did his residency in Chicago. He had family in South Carolina, so he was familiar with this part of the country. When he was looking for a place to settle down and start a practice, the weather, the economy, and the stringent licensing in North Carolina, which meant more opportunities for those who qualified, sold him on the Charlotte area, where he recently met and married his wife Allison.
One sister has already followed him, and he’s hoping to lure the rest of the family away from the Michigan winters as well.
When he’s not teaching himself video editing or seeing patients, Corte lectures to residents on how to fine tailor their clinical skill sets to adapt to the ever—evolving health care industry. He and Allison are involved in Young Affiliates of the Mint, supporting The Mint Museum, and running, working out, socializing, being outdoors, and carving out time for their 6-month-old marriage.
Plus, Corte loves to run and work out. “I enjoy every sport you can imagine,” he says.