We all know the story – treating patients over the past couple of years has become much more of a challenge as we navigate our way through the Covid pandemic. Even still, while many of us have returned to a normal life without masks and restrictions, in a clinical environment the need to protect patients from disease and limit in-person interaction continues.
So what can we do when this limitation is affecting the health of some of the most vulnerable in society – our children? When childhood eyecare conditions are left untreated they not only can limit the potential of that child in later life, but also place a future burden on our healthcare system that should be avoidable.
That’s the background to a project we’ve undertaken with NHS Forth Valley, Optonet and the Small Business Research Initiative; what does this clinical evaluation of telemedicine mean for the healthcare system?
Childhood myopia is a growing epidemic and the need for access to optometrists and other eye care specialists is vital in allowing parents the information they need as well as the correct care for the child. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that one out of two people have myopia and studies show myopia is becoming more common among children.
This project has allowed us to explore our telemedicine platform in greater detail and allow clinicians across the Forth Valley health board to gain access to our technology and test it for themselves. From this it has been found that home vision testing can be just as accurate as in-person tests. In the above video you’ll have heard clinicians attest to this.
Our work also links with amendments to regulation in Scotland as more people take on the use of telemedicine products. On the 20th of May, the National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments and General Ophthalmic Services) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2022 were laid before the Scottish Parliament. These 2022 regulations amend for General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) legislation to provide flexibility for GOS to be undertaken using remote facilities.
In the updated 2022 regulations, the existing arrangements for providing GOS using remote facilities continues to apply which is that:
“Remote eye examinations can be claimed using supplementary eye examination reason codes and must involve all the elements of an eye examination undertaken in person with the patient, except tests and procedures which require the physical presence of the patient. A GOS claim cannot be submitted where remote facilities are only used to ask a patient a series of questions to explore their concerns more fully and make a decision regarding whether the patient requires an eye examination.”
These regulations are welcomed as a nod to the developments and adoption in telemedicine and also mean that IbisVision can be used to provide some examinations to the patient from their own home and our work on remote vision testing for children with NHS Forth Valley will comply with current regulations.
The next steps in this revolution in telemedicine in the healthcare system is to carry out further clinical evaluations that will allow for telehealth assessments to become part of the patient journey. This is vital for anyone involved in eye care but also in other medical disciplines as well where eye health can be used to determine other medical conditions. The uses for telemedicine are wide and the opportunities great, all that’s needed is a wider adoption and trust in the technology that will help to transform the clinician and patient journey for the better.
To find out more about the project mentioned above or our telemedicine platform, get in touch with us, here.