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Why Did You Skip Your Vision Exam?

get a vision exam with today's technology from Smart Vision Labs not tech from the 1800s

There should only be one way to answer that question: “I didn’t.”

However, although 114 million eye exams are performed each year, there are 240 million Americans who have some type of vision problem.

So someone has been skipping a vision exam, right? That isn’t you though, is it?

Why is there such a difference in the number of people who need vision correction and those who actually go for an eye exam?

no vision insurance no problem with Smart Vision Labs everyone can get their vision tested

Affordable? Insurance?

It (mostly) comes down to money. A CDC survey of people with vision problems over 40 found the most commonly cited reasons for not getting routine eye exams were due to the cost of treatment. Both lack of vision insurance and not being able to afford the visit made up nearly 40 percent of the reasons why people skipped their eye checkup.

The group most likely to state a cost-prohibitive reason for their lack of vision care was between the ages of 40 to 64. This is also the age when many age-related vision problems (such as presbyopia) begin to make themselves known.

What Other Reasons Could There Be?

So, you noticed it “mostly” comes down to money. What are the other reasons?

The next most influential decision maker in refusing vision care is some good old self-diagnosis… or lack thereof. 35 percent of people stated they didn’t go to the eye doctor because they didn’t feel they needed a vision exam.

Let’s back up for a moment. The survey involved people over 40 who have “moderate to severe visual impairment” which is defined through actions such as struggling to read a newspaper. 35 percent of people with noticeable vision problems don’t think they need a vision exam. For the rest, regular vision exams will also alert the person to any developing problems that aren’t big enough to notice but that are at the perfect time to correct, preventing further damage.

Nearly 5 percent said they had difficulty getting an appointment scheduled which prevented their checkup. Although this percentage is far smaller than the other two statistics, it represents another completely different issue. Why can’t these people find appointments? Is their schedule or their doctor’s the problem? Is it caused by an understaffed office or maybe the patient is homebound? This 5 percent has both the money and desire to get their eyes checked but are not receiving treatment.

A Real Way for Affordable Eye Care

Smart Vision Labs has a way to address each of these groups to present them with the opportunity to receive vision care using telemedicine and their 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam.

Those without adequate vision coverage will be pleased to find out how affordable a vision test can be without involving their health insurance at all. In this way, Smart Vision Labs is helping to honor the ideals of the Affordable Care Act, even when the law itself can’t fix everything.

Appointments, scheduling, and creating time are also far simpler. After the short vision test is complete, the results are sent to an ophthalmologist who reviews them. You get your prescription through a secure online portal which protects your privacy and gives you control over how you use your own medical information. Having the prescription on a computer makes it easy to purchase glasses or contacts online so finding time to try on glasses turns into browsing websites at your leisure.

For that group who just “doesn’t need it,” perhaps they just need to see the ease and affordability of a vision exam. It doesn’t hurt at all to go, whether they end up with a prescription they didn’t think they would get or bragging rights that they didn’t require corrective glasses and were right all along.

But affordably caring for your eyes is never a wrong decision.

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Telemedicine of Today

Telemedicine of Today

If telemedicine is a new term for you, it’s time to be introduced.

Telemedicine is an exciting new advancement of medical treatment, which connects patients with qualified healthcare professionals through remote communication. It becomes particularly useful in cases such as monitoring a patient with a chronic condition, creating access to specialists regardless of geographic location, or to get care to those who are unable to leave their home due to physical or mental health conditions. Imagine how helpful being able to communicate with a doctor through a live video feed might be to someone who suffers from chronic pain or PTSD. They can reach the care they need without preparing for what might be a difficult trip in leaving their home.

Telemedicine is only one aspect of a larger field. Telehealth is the all-encompassing term for everything related to the junction between communication and health care. All telemedicine is telehealth but telehealth includes more than just telemedicine.

Telemedicine is focused on the direct link between patients and doctors. It uses communication technology to allow doctors to remotely diagnose, treat, and provide ongoing monitoring for patients. While telehealth includes this one-on-one type of interaction, it is also used for broader health communications. Something that is part of telehealth only is the education of both medical employees and the public. This aspect involves informing the public about a local health concern or continuing to provide education for current healthcare providers.

American Well Telemedicine kiosk
American Well Telemedicine kiosk

How Does It Work?        

Telemedicine uses the Internet, computers, and mobile devices to give patients access to medical care. This broad definition means the field of telemedicine is ever expanding as people find new uses for it or realize it is a solution to an existing problem. Innovation in telemedicine, in both the technology and medical aspects, has proven useful in alleviating concerns and struggles voiced by both patients and medical care providers.

While the exact procedure differs depending on what the healthcare concern is, the idea is to allow the patient to “visit” a doctor and benefit from their knowledge without having to actually visit their office. The basic concept creates a way for the patient to transfer medical information electronically to a doctor, who will review it and report back their findings.

Practicing telemedicine could be as simple as sending a few emails back and forth. During the email conversation, the patient mentions the wound from their recent surgery hurts a bit. The doctor asks for an image of the healing incision and the patient attaches it to their reply. Is the doctor concerned about the appearance? He might ask the patient to use an app to report their vital signs, looking for signs of infection.

It sounds simple but that is what telemedicine looks like in practice. Which is really the goal. The futuristic sounding terms are meant to achieve accessible and affordable health care.

But don’t start picturing severely ill patients asking an online forum if they should go to the hospital for their broken leg. The point of telemedicine is to get more patients the clinical care they need from accredited doctors. The most popular reasons and uses for telemedicine reflect this mission: relieving demands of time for doctors and patients and continued monitoring of an existing, but stable, condition. Telemedicine is about avoiding unnecessary office visits, not making office visits unnecessary.

How Does Telemedicine Benefit Me?

While telemedicine is indeed a great use of current technology, for anything to be considered successful, there has to be measurable benefits. To better understand these benefits, let’s start with the people telemedicine is designed to help. And that includes you.

Patients have three main areas of concern and they are convenience, cost, and capability. While these things may be prioritized differently for each individual, these are most often cited when asked about satisfaction with the healthcare industry.

Being able to access medical care in a convenient way is one of the hallmark principles of telemedicine. People in rural areas or who are physically unable to leave their homes are at a major disadvantage when scheduling office visits with a doctor. And even if you are not in those categories, most patients want a simpler way to see a doctor when they need to. Scheduling time away from work or school is difficult to coordinate with the often limited office hours of physicians. And let’s not even think about needing a doctor on a holiday or weekend.

The ever-increasing cost of medical care is always an issue. Telemedicine actually reduces the cost through their remote analysis and electronic data storage which require less physical resources to maintain. Telemedicine can possibly eliminate unnecessary visits to the ER as well as transportation expenses for patients who require it. The technology used, while being cutting-edge and impressive, also lowers other traditional costs associated with medical care. It is better able to manage chronic illnesses, and results in shorter hospital stays, as well as lower readmission rates.

The capability of the doctor will always be a major concern and telemedicine addresses this by giving patients better access to more specialists. Patients can be referred to specific doctors, regardless of their location. This technology enables specialists to perform detailed consultations from miles away. Having the ability to access the medical minds of all these physicians might be the most outstanding feature of telemedicine.

Although these are only three benefits associated with telemedicine, patients often mention others like not having to lose time from work to for a doctor’s visit, having their medical information easily accessible through a secure portal, and being able to engage with doctors in more relaxed setting than an office or hospital.

Above all, there is a very high level of patient satisfaction with telemedicine which demonstrates its success to address key concerns and needs of patients.

Telemedicine is Right Here, Right Now

In case you might think that telemedicine is still a thought of the future, you can literally reach out and touch it. Right now. In fact, you may already have used some of this technology though one of these services.

Teladoc is pretty much what the name implies: tell a doctor. But this on-demand service uses mobile devices, video, phone, and the Internet. Yet, there is no donning a gown and jumping up on the examining table. The patient sees a doctor through audio-video technology for diagnoses, consultations, or to receive ongoing monitoring of prescription medication. Teleadoc promises quality care when you need it. And the average wait time to speak to a licensed doctor by web, phone or mobile app is less than 10 minutes.

Teladoc telemedicine

SnapMD uses cloud-based technology to streamline and integrate all aspects of medical care. This is a simple and cost-effective way to access servers, storage, databases, and other applications over the Internet. While patients can see licensed physicians through the use of mobile devices, SnapMD also encrypts their medical history and is compliant with HIPAA privacy regulations. Doctors can view their medical charts during the call which provides more information to make a thorough analysis. On the paperwork side, having the patient’s medical data in a convenient location assists in the process of filing insurance claims, determining co-pays, and verifying health plan coverage.

snapmd telemedicine

BreakThrough focuses on mental health and advertises confidential online therapy from your couch. This service has enhanced the therapeutic experience by providing a wide range of licensed therapists and psychiatrists. It also eliminates the possibility of running into someone in the waiting room, which is often a worrying concern that patients have. Patients benefit from easy access to mental health providers, and can fit in a therapy session at times that are most convenient, including nights and weekends. Research has proven that online counseling is just as effective as in-person therapy.

telemedicine breakthrough

Smart Vision Labs covers another, sometimes overlooked, aspect of health care: vision exams. They offer a 5-minute vision exam that uses the same type of technology designed for LASIK procedures. Patients are asked a few questions about their overall health and then their eyes are scanned. These photos, as well as the data generated from them, are sent to a licensed doctor via cloud technology. If any prescription is needed, the patient can access it through a secure online portal. In fact, prescriptions will be kept on the server, along with medical data, so the patient can review this information. Once again, telemedicine offers convenience as well as quality care for the patient.

telemedicine for eye-care Smart Vision Labs

Telemedicine: Sci-Fi or WiFi?

The idea of seeing a doctor through an audio-visual link or conferring with a specialist in the comfort of your own home has a little science fiction feeling to it. But it’s all real thanks to the technology and the wonders of WiFi.

Health care has been a much discussed topic, from the White House to your own house. Although people and politicians may disagree on the best way to reform health care, everyone agrees on the idea of making it affordable and accessible. Telemedicine has done just that. It may not even be a stretch of the imagination to say that telemedicine has been at the forefront of affordable care years before it was a federal statute.

What does the future hold?  

Telemedicine has not reached its full potential but has started a momentum in the healthcare industry that will be unstoppable. Despite the availability of interactive devices to connect patients and physicians, policies enacted in some states make it difficult for telemedicine to do what it was intended to do: provide everyone with convenient, cost-effective, and competent care. But the success of telemedicine and the satisfaction of both patients and physicians are causing lawmakers to rethink certain restrictions that unnecessarily regulate coverage.

Telemedicine is an exciting merging of technology and medicine that can and will change the format of health care. Everyone on the planet, regardless of geographic location, financial restraints, or physical or mental impairments, can receive medical care by qualified physicians. A wide range of conditions can be diagnosed and treated, from the flu to sprains and strains. Mental health providers can counsel patients in their own homes and vision exams are performed in five minutes with LASIK technology as a diagnostic tool.

Healthcare reform has started and we have only begun to appreciate its success and recognize its potential.

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Telemedicine Eye Exams by Smart Vision Labs

"Eye" Don't Want To!

There are certain things that people don’t want when they get a vision exam. Thanks to technology, they may never have to get those things.

Thanks to Telemedicine

If you have had any recent visits to a doctor, urgent care center, or an optometrist, you have already experienced telemedicine. Through the use of technology, healthcare professionals can diagnose and even treat medical conditions at a distance.

At first, this was a way for people in rural areas to “see” a doctor or specialist without having to travel long distances. However, telemedicine has become a great benefit to everyone everywhere.

This has been especially true when it relates to vision exams. Telemedicine has virtually (sorry for the pun!) eliminated many of the objections that keep people from having regular exams.

You Don’t Have To

Technology has changed the “eye don’t want to” into “you don’t have to” by eliminating many of the negatives surrounding a vision exam.

Scheduling is probably the first hurdle you may face. It’s hard to find a time and day to go for a vision exam when work, school, or other important obligations may need to take precedence. With telemedicine, walk-in exams are possible at many optical locations. This is because the test is done using technology and the data sent electronically to a licensed eye doctor to evaluate.

The vision test involves taking photographs of the eyes which captures how light travels through the eye. Where and how the light is focused in the eye will be analyzed and reviewed by an ophthalmologist. A prescription will be issued, if needed, and this can be sent electronically to a person’s email.

This type of exam also provides the second “you don’t have to” moment: no long exams. If you have 5 minutes, you can get your vision checked. A Smart Vision Exam will include scanning your eyes with the same type of technology that is used in LASIK procedures. A doctor will receive this data electronically and analyze it. You do not have to wait around for a diagnosis or prescription; both of these will show up in your email’s inbox.

Not Sci-Fi—Just Good Old Wifi

Perhaps a novelist could have envisioned telemedicine and written a story about it. At first glance, the idea of getting a vision exam without ‘seeing’ an eye doctor seems like science fiction. But we have all seen the marvels of technology.

The electronic scan of your eyes will generate data that will give an eye doctor the necessary information to assess your vision and to determine if corrective lenses are needed.

You would have the ease of not having to schedule an appointment and to not have to endure a long and sometimes tedious eye exam. Research has proven that the best way to take care of your eyes is to have regular vision exams and you don’t have to sacrifice time to do this.

Technology has made this very easy as well as accurate. The scans and photographs taken of your eyes provide doctors with a high level of comprehensive data.

“See” the benefits of telemedicine for vision exams and take your “eye don’t want to” and make it a “eye I am convinced” moment.

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mobile autorefractors - Smart Vision Labs

What is Telemedicine? What Effect Will It Have on the Care of Your Eyes?

What is Telemedicine?

The prefix “tele” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “far off” or “distant.” You’re already familiar with many words that start with it. Telescopes and televisions are devices that let you see objects that are far away. A telephone lets you talk with people who are at a distance.

So what is telemedicine? As you have probably concluded, it means medicine that is practiced when there is distance between a care provider and a patient. And chances are that you are already familiar with certain forms of it . . .

  • If you have had the results of an MRI or other test forwarded to a specialist or hospital that is not located near where you live, you have benefitted from a form of telemedicine.
  • If you have taken an online test to help determine whether you have a condition such as attention deficit disorder, depression or chronic fatigue syndrome, you have also experienced a form of telemedicine.
  • If you have used WebMD.com or another online health service to diagnose a health problem – anything from a rash to a headache or a swollen toe – you have taken part in a form of telemedicine too.

Why Is Telemedicine Needed to Provide Vision and Eye Care?

At first thought, you might decide that the majority of Americans already have access to appropriate eye care. Several eye doctors are doing business near where you live, right? Plus, eye care must be available in the hospitals that are located near where you live.

Those observations might lead you to conclude that most Americans already have access to quality eye care. But when you review some of these statistics amassed by the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it becomes clear that there are vast numbers of Americans experience vision and eye problems – so many, in fact, that many of their eye conditions go undiagnosed or untreated . . .

  • Approximately 14 million Americans aged 12 years and older have self-reported visual impairment defined as distance visual acuity of 20/50 or worse. Among them, more than 11 million Americans could have improved their vision to 20/40 or better with refractive correction.
  • 1,600,000 Americans aged 50 years and older have age-related macular degeneration.
  • 3 million Americans (about 2.5% of the total population) aged 18 years and older have diabetic retinopathy.
  • 5 million Americans (about 16% of the total population) aged 40 years and older have cataracts.
  • 2 million Americans (about 2% of the total population) aged 40 years and older have glaucoma.

And where do those Americans live? All across the nation, including in areas that are underserved by hospitals, physicians and other health care providers. That explains the need for eye examinations that can be administered remotely to Americans who live in many parts of the country.

Telemedicine Will Meet the Need

What will bridge the gap and provide needed diagnostic eye screenings to all those Americans? Here are some trends to watch . . .

  • Self-operated vision testing devices, like the SVOne from Smart Vision Labs, will be installed at thousands of locations where they will allow individuals to quickly and inexpensively obtain prescriptions for corrective prescriptions.
  • Self-operated vision testing devices will arrive in stores and other locations that are already widely available in many locations where the need for professional eye care is not being met.
  • Self-operated vision testing machines will gain wider usage in hospitals, clinics, optometrists’ offices and other locations, making quality vision tests available more quickly and conveniently to millions of Americans who do not currently have access to them.

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The Age of Remote Eye Care Has Dawned

Can telemedicine meet the medical needs of all Americans who need eye care? Not in all cases, because individuals with certain conditions like macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy will still require the care of physicians who specialize in eye care.

Yet telemedicine stands ready to provide quality diagnostic vision testing to millions of Americans. We are about to live in an age when fewer and fewer Americans will have to live with the burden of poor vision. It will truly be a brave new world of better vision, thanks to telemedicine and advanced vision technology.

Click here to see how Dr. Jordan Kassalow is using the SVOne to increase efficiency in his New York City practice
Click here to see how Dr. Jordan Kassalow is using the SVOne to increase efficiency in his New York City practice

 

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