NEW YORK—An interview examining telehealth’s expanding role in vision care with Wally Lovejoy, an independent health care consultant, specializing in eyecare and optical retailing, and Julian Roberts, executive director of the National Association of Vision Care Plans (NAVCP), kicked off the second component of a three-part session of VirtualEYZE! as part of the June 23 VM Leadership Summit. During the discussion, moderated by Marge Axelrad, SVP and VM editorial director, Lovejoy and Roberts explained how payors are reimbursing for remote, comprehensive eye exams conducted by an OD.

As telehealth in the vision care field has been gaining traction, both before and during the pandemic, Lovejoy and Roberts highlighted what optometrists need to keep in mind as they get involved with remote exams.

Lovejoy said state laws do vary and it can be really complex, particularly for optometrists as they're trying to figure out how and when to provide comprehensive eye exams using telemedicine. “One of the first issues that comes up is that some states have established requirements that an in person exam is required. Or some states require just a regular comprehensive exam every two or three years, meaning that perhaps in between those exams a vision test to renew a prescription might be okay, even though those would not be reimbursed under current vision plans.” 

After a meeting with the NAVCP provider counsel at the beginning of last year, Roberts said the association realized that some degree of guidelines were needed for telehealth and the move began to try to get to a policy position statement. “As we got into the COVID pandemic stage, we realized that this was a genie that was not going to go back into the bottle. And we really needed to work quickly toward finalizing our position. And we finally approved it in April 2020.” The NAVCP policy statement is supported by the organization's board and managed vision care members, although each managed care vision benefits company has their own specific policies and requirements for providers.

Axelrad observed that because of telemedicine’s rapid technology changes, it seems like the reimbursement is trying to keep up with the capabilities of telemedicine.

All registered attendees can rewatch all or or parts of the VirtualEYZE! session on demand until Dec. 31, 2021.
The second VM Summit virtual session, “ALL-CONSUMING: A Deep Dive into the New Consumer Mindset,” is set for Wednesday, Aug. 11, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. (ET).
Registration is still open to the Aug. 11 program, which includes on-demand access to the June 23 VirtualEYZE! event as well. Registration includes both virtual broadcasts, full access to the VM Summit virtual platform, networking, on-demand viewing, door prizes, and exclusive access to attendees-only content after the event. Optometrists, opticians, ophthalmologists and students can register for no charge. All other industry registration is $99. Details and registration information is posted here.
The multi-part Summit program, "CREATIVE DISRUPTION, THE NEW NOW: How to Survive It. Why You Need It." culminates in an in-person live + virtual event on Wednesday, Sept 22 in Las Vegas, called "Retail & Healthcare: UPENDED! Ripping Up The Rulebook." Registration and info about that event will be posted soon.
The Platinum Sponsors of the 2021 VM Leadership Summit are EssilorLuxottica and VSP Global Premier Program. The Gold Sponsor is The Vision Council's Vision Health Alliance and the Silver Sponsors are Alcon and Ocuco.