Table of Contents
Vision correction has been experimenting with online tests and remote screenings for over a decade. However, after a series of lockdowns, it has become a necessity rather than a luxury for providers like you to see your patients. Indeed, telemedicine in Oklahoma and other states are offering different solutions for refractions, using laptops and phones to give prescriptions. It’s a rapidly advancing field with much ground to cover.
Telemedicine opens up possibilities
Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications to exchange health information that “improves a patient’s health status.” This definition is broad, including anything from the exchange of emails and pictures to a full virtual video visit with a doctor. When COVID-19 hit, many doctors used telemedicine to see and talk to their patients. It allowed many people to continue to get vision care even if they were not able to come into your office.
Telemedicine has a long history in eye care. In the past, we’d use it to send pictures from clinics to a doctor for review. During the pandemic, telemedicine in Oklahoma was a replacement for eye exams and other visits. Some doctors even took post-operative visits online.
Others would try and see more patients during the pandemic while social distancing. It has also helped those who live in remote areas and couldn’t come in for a visit. With restrictions now easing, some optometrists may continue to use telemedicine to allow for increased patient volume. The clear benefits of telemedicine include:
- The ability for more people to get care.
- Greater convenience for patients.
- Flexibility in scheduling for patients and office staff.
The downsides of telemedicine in optometry
Despite the opportunities that telemedicine in Oklahoma offers, there are some downsides to it:
- Privacy: This can be a concern, especially if office staff has the ability to open emails and pictures sent by patients.
- Insurance issues: Insurers cover telemedicine in many different ways. This requires you and your patients to understand what plans cover.
- Equipment costs: Some telemedicine services might require the doctor’s office to buy equipment in order to handle telemedicine visits.
- Confusion over what can be handled: Some examinations and testing may be better performed in person rather than electronically. You need to educate patients about what services need to be performed in person instead of through telemedicine.
- The rise of websites that promote “eye exams:” A number of websites that sell lenses and frames have begun to move into the area of “eye exams” for prescription renewals. However, if the prescription is incorrect, the patient may have to see you in person anyways to have their prescription corrected.
- Online vision exams are not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam: They do not examine a patient’s eyes or look for other problems that may indicate issues with a patient’s eye or overall health.
- Lack of collaboration: Virtual eye exams create distance between you and your patients. Patients may decide on certain lenses without your input on what might be the best lenses for them.
Can telemedicine co-exist with in-person visits in the future?
There are a few ways for telemedicine services to work with in-person care moving forward. Some states have added requirements for online eye care. For example, Kentucky now requires in-person visits every two years when a person obtains online eye care services.
Another possibility is for providers to use telemedicine in combination with in-person care. For example, providers might want to allow for remote refraction testing within a year of their exam to confirm a prescription when someone tears a contact lens and needs a new one.
Vision Care Direct and telemedicine in Oklahoma
Vision Care Direct is not an insurance company. We offer pre-paid vision plans owned by physicians. Our ultimate goal is to make sure your patients have healthy eyes. We work to provide savings for our members and fair reimbursements to providers that are best for you and your patients.
In fact, for many of the most popular lens options, such as UV protection, we wrap them into our plan designs. This helps prevent sticker shock for our members and your patients when receiving care
One service that we provide for all members are plans that include comprehensive eye exams. Because this service can’t be provided remotely, patients will need to seek in-person services with you.
However, as a Vision Care Direct provider, you can work collaboratively with your patients to get their lenses and frames at a place most convenient for them. Because we don’t own eyeglass stores, patients can get their lenses and frames wherever they wish. This might be online or in-store. Ultimately, we want your patients to feel that they have an ally both in their vision plan and in you, their provider.
Telehealth in Oklahoma is relatively new. However, it’ll be a big part of the future of eye care. While eye care is always changing, you and your patients should know that Vision Care Direct wants to work with you through these changes. We want to make sure our customers get regular eye care in a way that is easy for them. This includes getting their lenses and frames. Contact Vision Care Direct today for more information about how we work with telemedicine in Oklahoma.
And join our vast Oklahoma network of providers. Learn more about a plan that takes care of you and your patients.