Got Questions About Ocular Telemedicine?

Whether you’re currently knee-deep in ocular telemedicine research or are doing some investigating after hearing about it on a podcast driving to work, you might want to examine your business to see if it is showing signs that it’s ready to adopt ocular telemedicine.

Should Your Company’s Next Step be Ocular Telemedicine?

Is your business reaching all the people it should be? It might be that your company is located in one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone else (all 15 of them). Maybe talking to your current patients revealed that they are the ones who travel a bit of distance to access your care.

Perhaps your company has a humanitarian mission statement, believing that everyone should have access to vision care and great doctors. Are you specifically looking to reach out and offer this to people who are disabled or have chronic health conditions? Your business might have a goal of creating access to a whole network of doctors for people who had few, if any, choices.

Other signs your company is ready for eye care telemedicine involve your cash flow. Is your patient satisfaction high as a result of you taking many phone calls which cut into your bottom line? Alternatively, your online reviews may show unhappy clients frustrated with long wait times and difficulty in scheduling appointments. Both of these affect how much money your company generates. You can’t keep clients happy at your own financial expense (and stay in business).

Ocular telemedicine both addresses these problems and creates room for your company to grow.

INDUSTRY STATS

Telemedicine Questions and Supporting Data - Smart Vision Labs
Source: PwC

You’re Interested in Telemedicine, but is Your Team?

So you’ve done the research, and like the potential returns (both in how people see your company and how you see your investments), or decided it’s necessary in order to give as many people possible quality vision care.

What about your team? Are they capable (willing? nervous? excited?) of using telemedicine technology to provide eye care?

These next few points will show your employees that incorporating new technology into their existing work flow will actually ease their responsibilities. It can reassure them their part in using ocular telemedicine will be more like the medical personnel they are rather than a rocket scientist.

Speaking of… What Equipment is Needed to Run Vision Telemedicine Solutions?

That depends on which kind of ocular telemedicine services you’re interested in adopting. One of the great things about eye care telemedicine is how it can be customized to suit your company’s specific needs. With an idea about what you want to accomplish by introducing vision telemedicine and some research on different solutions, you can select an option which has no more equipment than necessary. And you might be surprised how little equipment may really be needed.

Especially because you are interested in vision telemedicine, there are options which only need a minimal amount of new equipment. Some ocular telemedicine solutions use proprietary portable refraction devices, which serve to accomplish the same feats the equipment which takes up half your exam room currently does. Other vision telemedicine platforms allow people to take vision tests using technology they already own, such as smartphones or webcams. The service then (securely) sends the results to a licensed ophthalmologist to be interpreted and emails a prescription back.

Does New Tech Mean We Have to Hire a New Team?

There are two parts to the staffing situation when introducing ocular telemedicine to your business:

One: “None of my staff is super interested in tech. Do I have to hire new employees to work solely with this ocular telemedicine solution?”

Two: “I really like my current team, even if they aren’t super tech-savvy. What do I have to do to get them comfortable with vision telemedicine?”

Like in the case of necessary equipment and new technology, how much these new changes affect your staff varies on the type of vision telemedicine platform you chose.

Good news for your current employees is that it really isn’t necessary to hire a whole new crew of vision telemedicine specialists.

Potentially bad news for your staff members who seem to be allergic to new things: someone from your telemedicine support company is likely going to be visiting your office for some employee training.

     INDUSTRY STATS

Questions about Telemedicine With Supporting Industry Data - Smart Vision Labs
Source: PwC

Telemedicine + Team = Training?

The rest of this equation involves your current staff. What training is needed to get them ready to use your company’s new ocular telemedicine solution confidently and efficiently?

Well, what kind of vision telemedicine do you think suits your company best? The less involved solutions need very little staff training. For a company who wants to invest in ocular telemedicine but isn’t sure how much their current employees/older patient base will respond, these simple offerings can be a way to test the waters.

Common Corporate Objections to Telemedicine

One of the objections you’re likely to face is the suggestion that people won’t use the service, therefore, it either won’t pay off or is too much of a gamble. But surveys asking whether people are interested in using telemedicine services are extremely positive. Time and again, results show that anywhere from two-thirds to three-fourths of people are willing to try telemedicine. Few other technologies have shown such public interest in early stages.

Another selling point refers back to the varied equipment and training requirements. Offering ocular telemedicine does not mean you’re investing in expensive equipment. You may choose to simply have something like a Smart Vision 5-Minute Vision Exam, hosted in your optical store. For a minimal investment, you can now advertise an appointment-free vision test. This familiarizes people with your business, labels it as tech-savvy, and generally creates a positive view of your company. Attracting customers with new cutting-edge technology is a useful way to introduce them to your other offerings, such as glasses.

If their concern is that ocular telemedicine is just a passing trend, show that more than just doctors and patients are taking note. Vision telemedicine is being recognized and reimbursed on par with in-person visits in many states. Laws and regulations are being created to respond to the new technology yet it retains bipartisan support. The speed and affordability of vision telemedicine cannot be ignored, especially for patients who struggle with the current system, such as veterans or those who can’t buy insurance.

INDUSTRY STATS

Industry Data to Answer Questions about Telemedicine
Source: PwC

How Long Before my Business Reaps an ROI from Telemedicine?

Short answer: how long it will take to see your return will depend on your investment.

Long answer: the length of time it takes to make your initial ocular telemedicine purchases pay off varies too much (depending on which services you’re offering) to really estimate a timeframe. However, the start of your payoff for these investments can be seen much sooner.

How soon? As soon as your company implements the vision telemedicine platform you chose. Immediately realized are reduced expenses. More return patients/customers. More new patients who heard your business has a telemedicine vision test that their current eye doctor or optical store doesn’t. People in both groups who choose your business because you are out-of-network, but remain affordable. The flexibility of vision telemedicine creates new avenues which open doors for more patients which generate more income (as well as provide vision care for more people).

What Should We Charge for Telemedicine Vision Exams?

Another aspect of determining your ROI involves the price you’re charging for the service.

Which (surprise?) depends on the kind of ocular telemedicine platform your store is using. If you just eased into the world of telemedicine with minimal investments, consider reflecting this in your pricing. Making the technology affordable will be more enticing for people new to telemedicine to try out. The opposite holds true as well. Are you the owner of the optical store in the trendy city and really went all out to provide a premium experience? Your price should show you’re confident that you’re offering a high-quality service.

The trendy store can do something the mom-and-pop optical store can’t because of their location, another factor to consider in pricing. The premium experience (and accompanying price tag) might not go over so well in a less-populated area with an older clientele. If your goal was simply to reach out to give vision care to people who can’t get to your office then offering the service doesn’t do much good if your price deters them. Checking out competing stores, both in the kind of vision telemedicine they offer and how they price it, will give you a solid range of numbers to work with when adjusting your own pricing.

There may be many questions about ocular telemedicine but they are being answered every day by businesses and medical practices that are putting this technology to use. The investments required both financially and in time spent training staff, have the potential to generate security for businesses while fulfilling humanitarian goals. Ocular telemedicine makes this happen.

Related Readings

Is a Telemedicine Solution Right for Your Optical Store?
Telemedicine of Today
Vision Industry Disruptors!
Telemedicine Myths and the Truths Behind Them
Why Doctors are Embracing Telemedicine

Download your free e-book, How Optical Stores Can Profit from the Telemedicine Revolution.”

Telemedicine solutions from 1924
Telemedicine solutions from 1924