Leaping Into Technology – Part One

Ready or not – Vision Therapy by wire is here.

There has been a TON of options floated in the last two days for seeing patients remotely. For ease of access, I’m going to do my best to share some of them here. Before reading on, please be aware of TWO facts:

FIRST – Currently, the Department of Health and Human Services has relaxed HIPPA regulations concerning telemedicine. The relaxing of these rules allows for many platforms to be used for patient contact. This is temporary. When the guidelines are returned to full strength, please do your research as to which platforms meet both HIPPA standards as well those in your particular state.

SECOND – I have no affiliation with, financial interest in, or connection to anything named below. I recognize some companies may be in competition with each other or offer similar products; however, my goal is to put as much information into one place so everyone can cherrypick the pieces which work best for their practice. I have no financial interests in your choices and zero bias as to which one may work best in a particular office.

So in no particular order:

  • There are many platforms allowed right now for telemedicine. Many of the more able programs concerning HIPPA and sharing screens have recently disabled their free trial version. At last check, this included VSee and Doxy.me. Depending on your needs, you may want to try Hangouts, FaceTime, or GoogleMeet. A “middle of the road” option is Zoom – which what we are using. They charge $14.99 per user for monthly access and charge month-to-month. Considering there is no finish line, per se, for this crisis, managing the costs of telemedicine on a month-to-month plan seems to be the way most are going.
  • During remote sessions, getting patient’s equipment and/or applicable activity write-ups can be tough. If you’re lucky enough to have spent time updating your write-ups over the last few years, two cheers for preparedness! For the rest of us, Emergent has a nice take-home kit which assumedly can be drop-shipped to the patient. These kits are 100% customizable. This is a great option for patients who do not already have equipment at home or patients who need different equipment that is currently available. You can reach Emergent here.
  • Another great home setup can be found in the Binovi Setup. Binovi currently offers Binovi Coach Home VT videos to demonstrate and assign activities to patients, a Pro platform to address training (or in my case, to review an activity before assigning it remotely), as well as the Binovi Academy which addresses a deeper level of training, as well messaging capabilities with patients. Binovi Academy also offers access to the Sanet Vision Seminar Series, with over 100 hours of video content and commentary. The Binovi Kit (offered through Bernell) can presumably be dropshipped to patients. You can reach Binovi here.
  • Home Therapy Systems (HTS) has a nice home program, as well. Although some equipment is needed for setup (individual flippers and red/blue filtered glasses), once that small hurdle is overcome, the patient can work on many aspects of visual mechanics at home. Their new system is completely online and can be monitored from anywhere. You also will have messaging capabilities with each patient.

Here are some nice tips for conducting a beneficial video conference.

Here are some more ideas for successfully setting up remote video sessions.

Here is some information on billing your telehealth visits. 

**NOTE** – As of today, March 18, 2020, I have seen conflicting reports as to whether or not Optometric Vision Therapy is covered under the relaxed telehealth guidelines for billing. Some camps suggest they are, while others say they are not since Vision Therapy is considered “non-essential” under the current definition. If your office does not conduct third-party billing for VT, then no worries, cash pay always works.

If third-party billing is a part of your offered services, PLEASE do your due diligence by contacting your state board to ask what is allowed and what is not with respect to telehealth, especially if it’s a new service you’re offering due to COVID-19. You may even need to develop some type of waiver/information sheet to educate your patients as to how the rules are currently being applied – something along the lines of an ABN.

I hope you’ve found some of this helpful. More to come.

Stay Well!

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