For the first time since its inception 14 years ago, Vision Monday held its Global Leadership Summit on a virtual platform due to the pandemic. So it was only fitting that the theme of the four-part, month-long Summit, titled "AFTERSHOCKS: Remaking Healthcare's Future, Vision Beyond 2020," took “attendees” on a quest for answers to the many business challenges and urgent questions facing ECPs and vision care decision makers in light of the virus.

Over the course of four two-hour sessions, Vision Monday served up a thought-provoking program and brought together a wide range of noted experts to address big trends and practical tactics in the face of COVID-19.

The sessions examined a variety of topics giving attendees an overview of the trends and business tools they will need to take their businesses through the pandemic and beyond. The trends touched on the following topics:

Trust in Our Healthcare Delivery System. The pandemic has laid bare many cracks in our healthcare system. Developments have left many consumers and patients feeling disconnected, distrustful and scared forcing healthcare leaders to pivot and reimagine their business.

Who Are the New Gatekeepers. As healthcare business models deliver convenience, greater access and more affordable and personalized medicine, there is a growing need for a new approach to vision care that is wider in scope, more accessible and more fully integrated into the broader healthcare matrix.

What's Next for Payors and Providers. Insurance coverage and patient access to care is evolving and systemic changes in healthcare will provide an opportunity for vision care providers to chart a new direction and play a wider role.

Stepping Up the Patient Experience. As the patient experience changes, digital technologies are bringing doctors, patients and consumers into the healthcare process in exciting and innovative new ways.

Here is a top-line look at some of the messages and themes that emerged from the virtual event through the words of the Summit speakers and presenters.

Session #1
VM’s Summit Examines Seismic Changes in Optical Landscape Due to Pandemic

The opening session asked, "Can Consumers Trust Our Healthcare Delivery System?" The session offered compelling insights, exclusive information and practical tactics to the registered VM Summit “attendees” from all sectors of the optical industry, who are grappling with the health, business, social and economic challenges of the current pandemic and the opportunities for vision care.

A Virtual Welcome
“To quote Jackson Browne’s vision care industry breakout hit, Doctor My Eyes, it has often felt like a ‘slow parade of fears’ marching before our eyes since we all last saw each other earlier this year and we have no doubt been asking ourselves ‘have I done all that I could, to see the evil and the good.’ I admit that despite our best efforts, it sure hasn’t been easy.”

Marc Ferrara
CEO, Information Services
Jobson Medical

Cracks in Healthcare
“Our opening session addresses how the pandemic has laid bare many cracks in our healthcare system. Developments have left many consumers and patients feeling disconnected, distrustful and scared and we’ll examine very new information about how their attitudes have changed in this past year.”

Marge Axelrad
SVP and Editorial Director
Vision Monday

WebMD’s Coronavirus in Context
Dr. John Whyte has interviewed more than 200 health care experts, cultural icons and other influencers as part of his Coronavirus in Context video series on the WebMD site. “Several themes emerged from the series of video interviews. The first is that data are not black and white. They’re gray. By that I mean, it’s not always clear what the right conclusion is from looking at the evidence. So early on, we thought everyone didn’t need a mask and then based on more evidence, we realized masks and facial coverings play a critical role in stopping the spread. Making new recommendations in the face of new information is a good thing—and we should celebrate that.”

On Celebrating Innovation
“Think about it—early this year, we had nothing to help fight COVID. We have had bumps along the way but look what we have developed—numerous rapid diagnostic tests, over 1,300 trials investigating potential therapies for COVID, and at least 5 candidates for vaccine development. It is critically important that we have transparency around innovation. Now is not the time to be secretive.”

Dr. John Whyte
Chief Medical Officer

Changes in Attitudes
“When we talk about virtual care, many people think of it as having a video consultation with their healthcare provider. While that’s often the case, virtual care also involves remote monitoring, which is especially important for patients with chronic conditions who need to measure and report medical data to their doctors.”

Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses & Technology

The Rise of Telehealth
“Use of virtual tools increased across the board as patients who switched to at-home treatment during COVID-19 took more advantage of video conference calls, online chat and apps. In doing so, patients used new technologies and they liked them. The relationship between technology and expectations is intriguing. Whether we realize it or not, we all have a mental baseline for how an experience should work (whether its positive or negative).”

Brad Michel
North American Life Sciences’ Lead

Healthcare’s Ecosystem
“In the 2008 recession, DIY became very popular and we saw the rise of Lowe’s and Home Depot. We also saw the rise of HGTV and the Food Network… [But] this era of DIY is now driven by YouTube and Instagram. A real thing that has happened during the pandemic is that so many millennials are displaying their sourdough bread on Instagram. This was just a signal to me that more people are doing more at home.”

Pandemic-Driven Changes
“As a result of the pandemic-driven changes, there are several important questions or thoughts for the vision care sector to take away from my session, including how can players across the different services in vision care insinuate yourself in a person’s home and daily life as part of their health hub?”

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn
Health Care Economist, Influencer and Author

In follow-up Q&A discussion with Sarasohn-Kahn, led by Robin Raskin, digital health expert and creator of the CES Digital Health Summit, touched upon the overlap and “melding” of what are now virtual and physical communities as a result of the pandemic. “Is there still a longing for the physical community that we had?, Raskin asked.

Robin Raskin
Digital Health Expert
Creator of the CES Digital Health Summit

The Pandemic Pivot
“In the past, we had often given our patients choices about some of the technology that we use. But now we really almost mandate it in the practice because it just delivers a touchless experience and [ensures] that we are providing the best care that we can.”

Dr. Michael Kling
Invision Optometry
San Diego, California

Access to the VM Summit Platform for Registered Attendees

Note that all VM Summit registered attendees will have access to the unique Summit platform at until Dec. 31, 2020. This platform enables registrants OnDemand access to all sessions, segments and a special Resource Center that contains some of the speakers' presentations, as well as supplemental content and speaker details.

Registration is still available to the VM Global Leadership Summit and includes access to anytime OnDemand viewing for all four virtual VM Summit sessions, all access to the Vision Monday Summit virtual platform, networking with other attendees, and exclusive access to Summit attendee-only content after the event. Sessions can be viewed in full or in part. Registration details, speaker bios and the full agenda are posted here.

Session #2
Healthcare's New ‘Gatekeepers’ Star in Second VM Summit Session

The second session asked “Who are the new Gatekeepers? What’s Vision’s Role?” Leading experts from innovative medical, retail and eyecare companies described how new healthcare business models are delivering convenience, greater access and more affordable and personalized medicine during a wide-ranging program. Collectively, this group of Summit speakers exemplified a new approach to vision care that is wider in scope, more accessible and more fully integrated into the broader healthcare matrix.

The Surge in Virtual Care
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in demand for virtual care and its impact on healthcare will be profound and long lasting. For healthcare providers, this has been an absolute sea change. Nobody is really pining for ‘Let’s get back to Dec. 2019.’”

Lewis Levy, MD
Chief Medical
Officer Teladoc

Vision 2.0
“Walmart has been spending a lot of time working to reimagine and redeploy its vision [care] resources in a project called Vision 2.0. One aspect of the Vision 2.0 initiative is to have optometrists within the vision centers play a larger role in providing primary medical care services, including hypertension and diabetes and other whole-body concerns that manifest themselves in the eyes.”

Thomas Van Gilder, MD, JD, MPH
Chief Medical and Analytics Officer
Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness

Mobilizing Eyewear and Eyecare
“With the coronavirus pandemic accelerating adoption of telehealth, 2020 On-site’s partnership model and investment in technology make patients look forward to their annual eye exams and make HR departments look good, minimizing friction points and increasing accessibility to create a patient-centric approach which has doubled business.”

Alexis McLaughlin
President and CEO
2020 On-site

The Rise of Medical Optometry
“As today’s Baby Boomers continue to age, they will develop other medical eye needs. COVID-19 was a good example of this—patients could delay eyeglasses and go online for contact lenses, which they did, but they could not put off eyecare medical needs. They had to be seen. Independent optometry should take the lead as primary eyecare begins to include disease management.”

Paul Karpecki, OD, FAAO
Kentucky Eye Institute
Clinical Editor, Review of Optometry

A Transition to the Medical Model
“Within five years, we will become the gatekeepers of primary eyecare. I predict instead of sending patients with dry eye, diabetes and glaucoma to MDs, they will be coming to ODs. We will shine in this role.”

Ben Gaddie, OD, FAAO
Gaddie Eye Centers and Keplr Vision

A Changing Perspective
“The goal is to change the public’s perspective that optometry is only just eyeglasses and contact lenses. We’re offering a global solution to all of the patient’s needs. We need to educate our patients about this. The future is bright for medical optometry.”

Robert Allen, OD
Associates in Eyecare

Session #3
What’s Next? Third Summit Session Features Pandemic Leadership Lessons from Healthcare’s Front Lines

The third Summit session examined "Leadership Lessons From Healthcare's Front Lines: What's Next for Payors, Providers...and Vision Care?" Speakers and presenters illustrate how the coronavirus pandemic has stressed hospital and provider systems in unexpected ways, challenging administrators, clinicians and support staff and explore how systemic changes in healthcare will provide an opportunity for vision care providers to play a wider role.

A Broken System
"Let's face it, the healthcare system as we've come to know it is broken. We have a system built for caring for people once they're sick, but hasn't historically looked at what we're facing now which is the rise of chronic conditions, most of which can be addressed in new ways. In the healthcare space, we are starting to see companies come in and start to do things differently. We believe a real, new focus can be on both the clinicians and the patients, and maybe redesign the system to fit this new focus."

David Holmberg
President and CEO
Highmark, Inc.

Pandemic Lessons Learned
“The uncertainty of not knowing how long the pandemic would last and how it would affect our hospital capacity only added to the stress of the situation. But the biggest positive surprise for me was the courage, creativity, innovation and dedication of our staff. Many of them worked straight through for 24 hours. Many healthcare workers got sick and then came back to work after being quarantined. I always knew how dedicated the staff was but in looking back at their efforts, I am humbled by what I observed.”

“The pandemic has humbled us and changed the way we think about life. We have been through a war, but I think we’re better off having gone through this because it demonstrated what we can do…I was delighted to see that recently the pharma companies came out with a statement that said when it comes to vaccine development they will focus on science and positive outcomes and that they won’t short-circuit the vaccine process.”

Michael Dowling
President and CEO
Northwell Health


Major Health Payor Looks to the Future
“Industry principals have to recognize that we all need to continue to work with managed care. You may have opinions about it, you may like it or you may not, but it is growing, folks. As a result of the economy, we will see more people coming into government programs, both from aging into Medicare as well as the economic challenges that will move people into Medicaid.”

John Ryan
General Manager
UnitedHealthcare Vision

“What we understand is that we really need to embrace technology, whether it’s telehealth, or whether it’s AI technology. It’s really about meeting consumers where they are...We’re going to continue to really focus on expanding that non-traditional access to care. That’s one of the trends that we saw happening before the pandemic and, if anything, I think the pandemic has really expedited that trend.”

Lori Archer
Chief Operating Officer
UnitedHealthcare Vision

Patience and Kindness Go a Long Way
“Many patients are scared to leave their homes and only do so to attend doctors’ appointments. Knowing that, the team works extra hard to make sure patients feel safe in the office, and know that they are following CDC and health department guidelines.”

Inder P. Singal, MD
Medical Director
Bennett & Bloom Eye Centers

Social Responsibility and Giving Back
“Warby Parker has also taken steps to encourage both employees and customers to vote, including providing employees with paid time off to vote and volunteer as poll workers in the upcoming election. We believe that businesses are part of a community and should give back…In addition, the company’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program, pivoted during the beginning of the pandemic to help provide PPE to those on the front lines.”

Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker

Session #4
Final VM Summit Session Addresses Elevating the Patient Experience With Tech and Retail Leaders

The fourth and final virtual Summit session, “Stepping Up the Patient Experience,” examined how digital technologies are bringing doctors, patients and consumers into the healthcare process in exciting new ways. An eclectic mix of speakers drawn from the technology, retail and vision care fields discussed how new tactics and technologies are transforming patient engagement by blending physical experiences with online, virtual ones.

The Digital Health Frontier
“We’re moving from an ‘I’m sick, take care of me intermittently’ to a world of continuous monitoring. In the world of digital therapeutics—where an iPhone is your aspirin—the rise of DIY (Do It Yourself) Health, as well as the growing role of emerging technologies such as augmented and virtual reality and nanotech is transforming the patient experience with healthcare. ..Consumers are getting used to the DIY healthcare model. Meet them where they are.”

Robin Raskin
The Digital Health Summit

Molding the Patient Experience
“MyEyeDr. has accelerated investment in integrated technologies to transform and modernize the patient experience to where it needs to be. The eyecare industry has lagged and despite the many great technologies being developed, nothing is working together…We need to move our industry to the health care category. We’re always operators and retailers, but it starts with the health care component. It’s on us to come together to send the right message about the value of eyecare.”

“It is time for us to come together as one. The healthcare message must be the foundation of everything we do and everything the patient hears and sees, with emphasis on the importance of eye health and quality optical products delivered via the virtual tray. It’s going to take the entire industry working together to achieve this.”

Sue Downes

A Good Remote Experience
“The team didn’t change the goalposts due to COVID, but rather had the opportunity to accelerate implementation of technological developments already being considered…Our group’s ‘Great Mindset Reset’ was necessary to create a good remote experience while meeting standards of care and the patient experience. The spring ‘pause’ allowed us to bring all practices to a uniform EHR standard, think about synchronous and asynchronous visits, and how to best provide patients with remote care while meeting the expectations they were accustomed to in-office.”

Dr. Artis Beatty
Chief Medical Officer

“When it comes to MyEyeDr.’s patient experience portal, patient time is precious—they want to be seen on their terms, whether it’s in-office, virtual visits, or curbside pickup. Digital intake forms minimize administrative time on arrival, along with insurance pre-verification and explaining insurance benefits in a way that [patients] actually understand, to help maximize their coverage. The form also collects information about the patient’s needs and communicates these to the OD during the visit, rendering ECPs better prepared.”

Angela McCoy

“Virtual try-on is a key element in shifting ownership of patient engagement to the patient and allowing frame selections to be organized, sanitized and ready upon arrival…Key features of the portal include access to prescriptions, order history, an order status tracker, and contact lens reordering, along with eye health and product education, and promotions.”

Christina Perraud
VP of Planning and Purchasing

Putting Tech Into Practice
“The biggest driver in organic growth is about elevating the customer journey, which means making this journey shorter, simpler and more precise for the customer and more efficient for the New Look stores in terms of productivity, conversion and traffic. One key is creating a very precise face scan, which is the starting point to the patient profile.”

Antoine Amiel
New Look Vision Group

“There are several elements that need to work together to make the omnichannel approach to customer experience successful. It begins with the research and eventual mapping of the dream customer journey, or seamless customer experience…But in addition to that, we also look at creating a unified and centralized data warehouse with easy [access] so that we can measure the performance of each of the steps of that journey and we can optimize it, so there is a learning cycle that is in place.”

Jean-Michel Maltais
SVP, Omnichannel
New Look Vision Group

“Topology is focused on both elevating the in-store experience for the optician and patient, as well as being able to deliver these services remotely. It’s the teleoptical equivalent to the rise of refractive telemedicine. We’ve been working hand-in-hand with New Look Vision Group to focus on designing the interface and the product with the optician at the center of the experience, which I think is something that has never really been done before.”

Eric Varady

“When we met [Topology] the first time and saw this technology, I knew it was the time to go online. This technology fits with New Look’s mission to improve the customer experience. It’s not only a show that we need to deliver, but also we really need to engage the consumer in the process of purchasing eyeglasses or any kind of product to improve their vision.”

Eric Babin
New Look’s Iris Visual Group

Staying Ahead of the Curve
“It’s no secret that the optical industry is behind the curve when it comes to e-commerce and consumer facing technology. The industry can no longer sit back and wait for customers to come to us. The goal of our one-stop shop for all things optical online is to replicate the in-store experience as closely as possible, meeting demand for an online process that is simpler, faster and more affordable… This idea of unlimited access has become even more important during the pandemic.”

Andy Bilinsky
Co-Founder and CEO

Patients First Despite a Pandemic
“When the practice had to close its doors due to CDC recommendations I was preparing to come in and take photos of every single frame on our board. But then I had the thought of checking out Frames Data and lo and behold they had a whole virtual frame gallery. That was really the starting point for me to explore other technologies and options. It really got the ball rolling. By noon the next day, Frames Data’s My Frame Gallery was live on my website. I was so impressed.”

Annie Hicks, LDO
SeePort Optometry

“Telemedicine is another way that the patient experience has changed. We were able to provide medical care during the shutdown which kept patients out of ERs. We’ve actually continued to use telemedicine for patients who might have been exposed to COVID or just don’t feel safe coming into the office. I think telemedicine will always have a place in our office.”

Jennifer Stewart, OD
Norwalk Eye Care