By S. C. Sherman –
Wouldn’t it be cool if computers got so small you could hold one in the palm of your hand? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually see the person you were talking to on the other end of a phone call? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could actually have your eyes checked without ever having to go into the eye doctor’s office?
All three of those amazing things have come to pass. Our phones are incredibly more powerful than large computers of yesteryear. Facetime and Skype have made it possible to see the smiling face of my daughter who has moved out and gone to college as easy as any phone call years ago. New technology has also now made it possible to have an eye appointment right over your smart phone with accuracy as good as in the eye doctor’s office.
Telemedicine is the future come to fruition. There are several apps (such as Opternative and Glasses On) already providing an online 25-minute “eye appointment” right on your smartphone. Guess what? Their results have proven as accurate as a traditional in office visit.
Imagine how this is going over with the eye doctors of the world? Like a lead balloon.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) and other groups have unleashed an army of lobbyists to try and outlaw this new technology. Much like the old-school taxi drivers trying to stop Uber, eye doctors are coming after this innovation that has greatly helped consumers everywhere.
Yet, just like VRBO filled a need in the world…this technology is the wave of the future. Telemedicine, especially in this situation, is a no brainer. If the online tests are accurate, why would you ever go to the eye doctor every time a lens refill is needed when even the AOA says healthy adults only need an eye appointment once every two years.
Forcing contact lens wearers to come in more often than that to simply refill their prescription is pure greed. The new telemedicine technology for eye health has advanced to a tipping point that can only be stopped by good old fashioned cronyism.
If you can’t beat your competition, get government to declare them dangerous and illegal. It’s a tried and true strategy that has lined the pockets of many a politician. A number of states are trying to eliminate the threat of ocular tele-health. They are attempting to require a face-to-face encounter at some point in the treatment. They use the excuse of health and safety concerns, even though they have no data to back this up, nor any evidence that that is the case.
In California, state Board of Optometry is even using state tax dollars to fund a public relations effort against Opternative, the company operating in most states, because its service threatens the old way of doing things.
In Virginia, the state ophthalmologists sent an email to their members, making clear that they knew of no one who had been injured by the technology. Their strength is ignorance; once we explain to legislators that it isn’t an app that takes a picture of your eyeball and spits out a prescription, then they begin to come around. Despite that, the Virginia Bill still bans ocular telemedicine. It passed the Virginia Senate, but needs Robert Orrock, the House Committee Chair on Health, Welfare, and Institutions to encourage debate on the issue before more damage can be done to the future of eye care.
And in Indiana, the optometrist cartel is attempting to spread the ban to other states. This is the chance for Optometrists to embrace technology and telehealth before they get steamrolled by it. Attempting to use the power of government to ban progress will only lead to ruin. Indiana Republican Rep. Cindy Kirchofer said this, “No vision provider can provide glasses or contacts online via telemedicine.”
She’s right because Indiana prohibited ocular telehealth last session. Now is the time for cronies in government to rethink the decisions in their life. This new technology is the genie out of the lamp. They can try to put it back in the bottle, but you can imagine how that will end.
The time for the future is now. Embrace it, profit from it, or get out of the way.