MyVisionPod positions equipment locally to connect patients with an off-site technician and ophthalmologist.
Unlike some companies that offer equipment to self-refract or others developing software for patients to use on their own computer, MyVisionPod places a refracting lane and testing equipment in a “pod” to conduct remote refractions.
“With the pod system, we can provide an eyeglass prescription using video conferencing and Internet-controlled equipment,” said company president Hal Wilson. “The patient visits the pod where the refractive equipment is located and interacts by video conference with an off-site technician and ophthalmologist.”
Wilson explained, “A vision pod takes up about 32 square feet (4 ft. x 8 ft.). The equipment is the same as you’d find in any optometric or ophthalmological office including an autorefractor, autophoropter and visual acuity charts. The only difference is that the equipment is being controlled by a technician using a computer, and the interaction is being conducted over video conferencing. The complete process takes about 15 minutes.”
A VISION FOR THE PODS
Locating pods in any synergistically related location such as a drugstore, health clinic, employee wellness center, a big box retailer or department store, is how Wilson envisions rolling out his remote refracting system. A pod could also be located in an optical retailer’s office for those not offering refractions at all or for days when there is no refractionist on-site.
While Wilson reports that a My-VisionPod refraction is identical to the ones obtained in any optometric office, he is quick to point out that it is only a refraction and not a comprehensive eye examination.
A technician conducts the refraction, and an ophthalmologist reviews the patient’s history, asks the patient questions and is the one who signs the prescription. “The doctor and several technicians are located in a refraction center and are linked by video to the remote sites. It’s the same supervision model used in ophthalmology offices all around the country,” said Wilson.
In addition to the remote technician and ophthalmologist, there is also a technician onsite with the pod who “is more of an optical expert to help the patient select lenses, frames and coatings after the refraction,” Wilson said. “They also give the patient an overview of what to expect, introduce the remote technician, help get them ready for the refraction, seat them properly and clean the equipment after each use.”
PARTNERING WITH THE POD
There are several ways for a business to have MyVisionPod services. An optical retailer that only needs the refractive equipment would sign a contract for the refracting services. For a drugstore, refraction services, eyewear sales and an optical technician would all be supplied by MyVisionPod, which would partner with the drugstore on a profit-sharing basis. Patients can also access the company’s website to purchase eyewear.
When asked about the potential negative reaction this kind of service may elicit from the eyecare community, Wilson said, “Anytime there is a fundamental shift in the way services are provided, the stakeholders impacted are going to have great levels of fear because of the uncertainty. We’re not providing any medical services, but we do want to be a driver of eye exams through our process. We want to bring in people who are not getting services, provide them with a refraction and refer them for a comprehensive eye health examination. In this way we would work toward increasing the number of medical eye exams.”
While MyVisionPod sites are not currently in production, a fully functional prototype is set up in the company’s Raleigh, NC, offices.
Ed De Gennaro, MEd, ABOM, is Director, Professional Content of First Vision Media Group.