Should optometrists (ODs) embrace the rise of telemedicine? Or is it a step in the wrong direction?
Dr. Mike Rothschild, OD, of Leadership OD, posed these questions at Vision West Expo 2019 in Las Vegas.
It is no secret that telemedicine is a hot topic in optometry. ODs are turning to technology to improve patient access to care, healthcare delivery speed, and patient satisfaction overall. Dr. Rothschild sought to address the trends—as well concerns—that will shape the future of telemedicine in optometry.
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Telemedicine is expanding healthcare
The benefits of telemedicine include shorter patient wait times, better prioritization for urgent care, and a lessened load on the OD’s schedule. And according to Dr. Rothschild, patients in the U.S. are ready for it.
“About 70 percent of Americans, all age groups, are willing to see a doctor remotely,” he says.
And the use cases for telehealth are growing, in turn.
“Stroke and radiology are the big topics right now,” Dr. Rothschild says.
He recounted a past experience in which a patient was quickly diagnosed with a stroke through a virtual telemedicine consultation, ending in a positive outcome.
“All of us know that early intervention in stroke care is the most important piece of it,” he says.
Through strategies like these, telemedicine has the potential to be used for life-saving applications.
Dr. Rothschild detailed several other advancements, one of which is the remote monitoring of intraocular pressure (IOP). This tool has the potential to improve healthcare delivery by distributing continuous, consistent care.
For example, Dr. Rothschild described how one such tool could track a patient’s IOP and automatically alert her if and when her pressure levels grew too high.
And though the technology is still new, these advancements and those like it are being supported by new Medicare codes—something Dr. Rothschild notes is a good sign for adoption.
“The fact that Medicare is creating these kind of codes means that it is starting to come,” he says.
However, not everyone is on board.