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10 Questions You Should Ask Potential Ocular Telehealth Partners

September 19, 2019 | Business & Financial | 0 Comments

As the popularity of telehealth continues to grow, a wide array of telehealth options are emerging across the healthcare spectrum—from wearable technologies to reporting platforms to video conferencing and health exams.

In the eyecare category, the number of companies offering ocular telehealth products and services is also expanding. It’s important to note that the services and capabilities of each company varies significantly, ranging from simple, at-home vision testing to comprehensive eye exams and health screenings performed in-office with state-of-the-art equipment.

To identify the partner most capable of supporting your business, it’s important to ask the right questions. Following are ten questions that we suggest you ask a potential partner before making a commitment. (We’ve also included some perspective about how 20/20NOW compares.)

1. Does your solution feature the latest technology? Only the most advanced ocular telehealth solutions feature state-of-the-art equipment and next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), which increases the accuracy and effectiveness of eye exams.

The latest generation of 20/20NOW’s telehealth solution uses the latest multi-functional equipment, including a wide-field retinal camera that provides high-quality retinal images, which are then enhanced by AI to identify lesions typically undetectable to the human eye. This makes it possible for remote eye exams to detect a wide range of ocular medical conditions, like diabetic retinopathy, in their early stages when most treatable.

2. How much experience does your team have in the field of telehealth? Telehealth is a complex field and providers are constantly challenged to keep pace with ever-changing technology and regulations. That’s why it’s important for you to choose a partner with many years of experience in telehealth. An experienced team is better prepared to deal with changes in technology and future regulations.

The 20/20NOW team is led by Chuck Scott, a leader in developing telehealth solutions since the emergence of telehealth for radiology. Since the company launched, more than 2.6 million exams have been conducted using 20/20NOW’s exam technology—a considerable amount of experience from which you can benefit.

3. Are there eyecare experts on your team? Obviously, any telehealth technology solution needs to meet the unique challenges of the eye care providers who will be using it. That’s why your potential partner should be able to offer you the consultative services of an experienced eyecare provider who understands your challenges.

Chad Overman, OD, 20/20NOW’s clinical advisor, has extensive experience in optometry and the optical industry, including experience that includes both private practice and leadership roles in corporate optometry. As a result, he understands the needs and challenges of a wide range of eyecare professionals.

4. Is your solution FDA-approved? In its recent position statement regarding telehealth services, the American Optometric Association recommends that “only FDA-approved devices being utilized in the manner for which they were approved should be used to monitor patients remotely.” The FDA monitors  the many ocular telehealth devices and solutions that are moving into the marketplace.

20/20NOW uses both FDA-approved equipment and software. The retinal images captured by a wide-field camera are integrated with FDA-approved artificial intelligence that immediately enhances the images to screen for potential lesions in the retina. This cutting-edge technology, which is called Eyelogic, helps doctors diagnose critical eye diseases in their early stages.

5. What are the upfront costs for implementing your solution? Depending on the type of telehealth technology you implement, equipping an ocular telehealth lane in your practice typically includes an upfront investment in digital exam equipment, software, and video conferencing equipment. Your telehealth partner should provide you with options that minimize upfront investment costs.

With 20/20NOW, there’s no upfront purchase requirement for equipment or software. Eyecare providers can choose a rental option to eliminate the need to purchase equipment or software upfront. Furthermore, 20/20NOW charges a low fee for each completed exam with no monthly minimums or guarantees. Exam fees are also capped, so the cost per exam is lower than in-person exams.

6. Does your solution meet industry standards for a comprehensive eye exam? While some providers claim their solutions provide comprehensive eye exams, some of the exam protocols simply don’t meet the standard of care outlined by the leading vision plans for a comprehensive exam. Look for a solution that meets or exceeds the standard of care for a thorough and comprehensive eye exam.

20/20NOW’s eye exam meets or exceeds the standard of care set by the major vision plans for a comprehensive eye exam.

7. How in-depth is your screening for critical eye disease? It’s important to understand that not all ocular telehealth companies offer the same services and capabilities. Some ocular telehealth vendors only provide an objective refraction, while others may offer more extensive refraction capabilities and their eye health testing may be limited. You’ll want to choose a partner that provides extensive capabilities for both.

The 20/20NOW exam includes both objective and subjective refraction, along with extensive screening for eye problems and diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, as well as screening for systemic health diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

8. Do you provide training on the use of your solution? To get the best results from any ocular telehealth technology solution, it’s essential to train your staff on instrumentation and communication tools—including production of ocular images, operation of video conferencing equipment, data storage and management, and coordination of care.

At 20/20NOW, training your staff on the use of the equipment is a high priority. After your equipment is installed, the 20/20NOW team provides training onsite for five days, after which the team monitors exams with real patients to make sure that you and your patients are getting optimum results.

9. Can you provide insights about insurance coverage and regulatory issues in the state(s) where I practice? Insurance coverage and reimbursement are a big concern for eyecare providers and their patients. Coverage for ocular telehealth services varies among insurance carriers and Medicare has special rules for reimbursement. Your telehealth partner should be knowledgeable and eager to help educate and guide you.

The 20/20NOW team has a wealth of experience in these matters and works with leading experts in the areas of telehealth law, state optical regulations, and insurance. So, you can be assured that the telehealth solution you choose complies with all applicable federal and state regulations.

10. Do patients respond well to your solution? Do you have quantitative patient feedback data? An ocular telehealth solution won’t be effective unless your patients like it and recommend it to their family and friends.

20/20NOW has surveyed more than 8,500 patients in the past 12 months about their 20/20NOW exam experience. Patient feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with high levels of patient satisfaction (98%) and with the vast majority of patients planning to return (92%) to the same location for their next exam. Most (84%) are also highly likely to recommend a 20/20NOW eye exam to their friends and family.

Chances are, these questions will lead to a more richer and in-depth discussion about how ocular telehealth solution can benefit your practice and patients. Conversations like these are extremely important to help you uncover issues you hadn’t thought about while identifying new possibilities for building your practice.

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