When the American Optometric Association advised optometrists to postpone all routine eye care visits on March 19, 2020, many ODs turned to telehealth. Virtual visits have many advantages, like keeping patients safe from coronavirus exposure, improved access to care, and reduced health care costs. It is essential to have a written plan when incorportating telemedicine, before implementation.
Get the most out of a televisit
Consider implementing these suggestions in order for both the doctor and the patient to gain as much as benefit as possible from a telehealth visit.
Instructions for patients prior to televisits should include:
– Necessary software downloaded with education from staff about usability and test for functionality
– Instruction to download additional helpful apps, if possible. This may include a visual acuity chart, Amsler grid, color vision plates, etc.
– Instruction for pertinent ocular and medical histories to be readily available to review with physician during the visit or to email prior to the visit
– Submission of photos through a secure platform
During the visit:
– Obtain and document verbal consent
– Patient should sit in well-lit room
– Patient should have family member or friend available for assistance during the visit, if appropriate
– Headphones recommended during visit with patient so the doctor’s hands are free to demonstrate various things to patients
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After the visit:
– Document all that transpired immediately, including start and end times of the visit
– Include review notes, impression and plan, photo-documentation, interpretation and report, and billing codes
– Create list of all patients seen via televisits to review later with billing staff
– Schedule follow-up as necessary
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has emerged as an essential technology for all healthcare professionals. In our experience, we have learned it is essential to have a written plan for how to incorporate telemedicine into daily practice prior to implementation.
Utilize resources such as the American Optometric Association (AOA), American Academy of Optometry (AAOptom), and American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAOphth) to aid in formulating documentation and triage protocols.
It is important to learn from each other’s experiences as ODs continue to expand the use of telemedicine in to deliver eye care, especially in times like this, when in-person visits are severely limited.
More by Dr. Kresch: The myopia epidemic: Are new therapies in sight?