Industry Expertise · February 03, 2022

The Pros of Telehealth and Virtual Visits for Your Optometry Business

If you're an optometrist curious about the pros of telehealth for your practice and patients, you're not alone. Virtual visits have been on the rise across most forms of healthcare, showing staggering increases of anywhere from 257% to 700% in 2020 compared to 2019.

But what are the benefits of virtual services, such as a telehealth eye exam, in a specialty designed for in-person evaluation and treatment? From expanding access to care to building a more intentional in-person practice, the pros that virtual care capabilities bring may far outweigh the limitations.

Expanding access to care

According to a 2020 survey by Johnson & Johnson Vision, 80% of respondents said they consider eye exams important, but less than half said they get an exam each year. From costs of care and pandemic hesitancy to geographic constraints, regular eye exams fall by the wayside for myriad reasons.

Expanding access to care is one of the leading pros of telehealth for optometrists and the communities they serve. What are other benefits of virtual visits?

  • Less obstacles to patient care. Virtual visits help your practice close the distance between you and your patients. By removing countless barriers, including distance, disability and even immunodeficiency, telehealth options bring routine eye care within reach.
  • Improve annual exam rates. When patients know they won't have to take off work or fight traffic to get their regular exam out of the way, you can increase the number of patients who come back year after year.
  • Offer peace of mind. From kids who are intimidated by the idea of going to the doctor to those who want to limit public exposure during the pandemic, virtual visits can help ease worries and keep your patients comfortable.

Revamping your in-office schedule

Through primary care telehealth, your patient can easily share photos and symptoms for a virtual diagnosis and treatment for common health conditions. Optometry is no different. With a few photos or a video visit, you could quickly handle simple cases, such as conjunctivitis or even updating a patient's glasses prescription. You'll save patients time and give your in-office schedule a makeover for the better.

Telehealth can help remake your in-office schedule by:

  • Acting as a screening tool: When patients exhibit concerning symptoms during virtual visits, it's easy to refer them for an in-person appointment for further evaluation. If an office visit isn't needed, you've saved the patient a fair amount of time and a slot in your schedule.
  • Lowering schedule-related frustrations: With fewer low-urgency appointments on your books, you can potentially see patients with more pressing concerns faster.
  • Increasing patient volume without compromising care: One of the pros of telehealth is the ability to shape your practice around it. You can have entire days where you only take telehealth and virtual appointments, which can increase appointment volume and revenue.

Protecting your practice and patients

In a world where data breaches have become an unwelcome norm, patients may be wary of sharing their health information online. However, the security of telehealth and virtual visit apps can be a positive talking point for you and your patients.

Companies offering software for telehealth and virtual visit capabilities have baked HIPAA compliance into the very core of their offerings. Given that their reputation as technology providers depends on protecting your patients, it's in their best interest to continually evolve the security features of their offerings.

With such a commitment to patient privacy standards and other security features, these turnkey solutions can help your practice focus on providing care—your optometry practice shouldn't have to spend every day worrying about compliance.

Moving forward with telehealth in your practice

As you consider the pros of telehealth and virtual visits for your optometry practice, keep in mind that whichever solution you choose will only be as beneficial as your plan to implement and maintain it. Consider how you'll use telehealth, what you hope it will accomplish for your practice and patients, and how it will complement your current offerings.

And don't forget to budget for a learning curve for your practice and patients alike. Anything new will have its growing pains, giving you the opportunity to learn and adapt along the way in the name of health.


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