Optometrists have a mixed reaction to the phrase "remote healthcare assistance". For many independent ODs, telehealth and teleoptometry might have traditionally insinuated fewer patients in the practice, fewer optical dispensary sales, and less accurate diagnoses.
However, they might be overlooking the opportunities that telehealth makes room for, especially during emergencies and pandemics. Teleoptometry could help service the few patients who are unable to leave their homes, those who live in expansive rural communities, and optometrists that are homebound or traveling.
Keep reading to see if teleoptometry is an option for your practice.
Is Teleoptometry an Option for Emergencies?
Teleoptometry allows optometrists to talk to patients through phone calls, e-visits, virtual check-ins, and video chats. However, comprehensive telehealth involves at least a 2-way video call with the patient, advanced reports from prescreening tests, and any patient information that can be sent through a digital patient portal that is HIPAA compliant. You can refer to the medicare website for laws and protocols on telehealth originating sites and coding under the new relaxed wavier.
It's important to note that servicing patients remotely can mean emergency calls and more online patient scheduling work for your staff. If you live in an area with unreliable internet coverage or have a limited and small staff, teleoptometry is not always a viable option.
That being said, teleoptometry does seem to have benefits for practices as an alternative for patient care during times of need. Not only does digital optometry reduce the need for paper records, but it also makes appointments and education accessible to any patient with an internet or phone connection. Cloud-based EHR and practice management software allows ODs to look at reports and conduct video conferencing remotely. If you have plans to open multiple eyecare practices, teleoptometry could make that possible without hiring too many associate ODs.
With the correct software, your workflow can run smoothly after the initial setup. If remote work would help the community you live in and the success of your practice, it's worth creating a separate check-in to check-out process for these patients.
Want more advice on creative paths to grow your practice? Start with creating a long-term plan for your practice.