Ocular telemedicine is heading toward mainstream acceptance, but some barriers remain. VM asked some of the key players in OTM to assess the current state of the market, and offer their views about its growth prospects in the near term.

“We see two models emerging. One is the satellite model, where a doctor practices in an urban location but is able to serve patients in rural markets through telehealth. The other is the office productivity model, where a doctor adds a Telehealth lane to handle overflow patients and walk-ins. This also frees up the doctor to devote more time providing medical services.”—Greg Lechner, 2020Now

“ECP’s are conservative. They’re not early adopters of new technology. They’re concerned about limitations with respect to the quality of images that are transmitted by some telemedicine systems, and because of that they’re concerned about making the wrong diagnosis.”—Moshe Mendelson, Eyecare Live

“The only barrier for ECPs is their acceptance of new remote technology which delivers the quality of an in-person eye exam coupled with an enjoyable patient experience.”—Howard Fried, OD, DigitalOptometrics

“We’ve seen growing recognition and acceptance of the at-home vision testing concept from both consumers and eyecare professionals. What was once thought of as a crazy idea is gradually gaining widespread acceptance.

“But continued growth will require a paradigm shift. Consumers and ECPs have had virtually the same dynamic for decades. While the benefits of adopting and partaking in telehealth are plenty, the effort of shifting a paradigm is difficult. It requires consumers and ECPs to recognize that some procedures usually done in an office visit can be achieved from home; that there isn’t one set of magic numbers, for example to correcting vision with glasses or contacts; that screening vision more frequently than the recommended annual or bi-annual office visit can have significant advantages for the patient and the doctor. If you’ve built a career around the old paradigm, you’ll likely resist movement to the new one.”—John Serri, EyeQue

“Government payers and private insurers are moving towards more telehealth and will need to address reimbursement, licensing, and malpractice issues before we can have widespread acceptance.

“Eyecare providers have mixed feelings about ocular tele medicine. Some are worried about being replaced or losing patients while others see the potential for a large influx of new patients in need of their services. There is no doubt that those in the eyecare space will need to adapt to a changing practice model.

“Investors in the world of ocular telehealth are unsure of what market will emerge. This uncertainty stems from a lack of a comprehensive testing solution, an unproven reimbursement model, and lack of market studies demonstrating public acceptance and adoption. What we do know is that this emerging market is massive and those who choose wisely will be highly successful.”—William Mallon, MD, GlobeChek Enterprises

“The push back we’ve seen to date comes from optometrists.

Despite that, telehealth is the here and now, and is not going anywhere. We appreciate the early adopters—open minded health care providers and business folks who understand and embrace this trend, leveraging our technology to improve the services they offer.”—Yaopeng Zhou, Smart Vision Labs

“The ECP’s main challenge today is to decide where they want to go considering the over-abundance of options they have to add value to their services right now. The uncertainly of growth is the main barrier. That being said, the field is reacting really well. ECPs are always trying something new. There’s always an experiment happening in every small practice, from cost-reducing alternatives to brand new offerings. It’s a good time to be in the industry.”—Vitor Pamplona, EyeNetra